Monday, November 14, 2011

What to Pack for a Beach Resort Vacation - Part 1

Looking South from Lindo Mar, PV
The sun is coming up on the left
After two weeks in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, there were a few things I wished I'd packed, and a few I shouldn't have. Over all, I didn't do so badly, but I'm making note now so next time I'll remember. Maybe you will find it useful too.

Not to mention this is a blog NOT about writing! Let me know if you enjoy it and I'll try to do more.

Forgive me for stating the obvious: Packing light is important. Are we all agreed?

Someone has to carry/wheel all that junk into and out of the airports, not to mention the carry-ons that go in the overhead compartment. Unless you like shelling out tips every time you turn around, "someone" will be you. And if you're like me, the flight attendants are far away when that bag needs to be slung up into the overhead bin. Make sure you can heft it! I want one of those bags that turns sideways so you can wheel it down the center aisle of the plane.

Don't choose your largest suitcase unless you know for a fact you can pack so it weighs no more than fifty pounds. For the checked bag I used the mid-size case of my 3-piece Samsonite set and it hit the scales at 42 pounds. Some of that weight was paperback books I was taking to read and leave. I took eight books and brought home only one of them. Good thing because my ereader vanished between the hotel and the boarding gate and I had that one book to read on the way home. More about that later.

Lindo Mar Resort, PV
Think about your location. We were headed for a small timeshare resort. Only forty or so units, all with ocean views. Cute and clean. No long walks unless you wanted to walk, and few stairs. Since I was traveling with my eighty-one year old mother, this was perfect. I'm not all that big on stairs myself. Note, the lobby was on the 7th floor, at street level. The beach pool and restaurant are way down the hill on the first level. Our room was on the third floor, all the way to the left.

Think about your plans. Do you want to shop everyday? See all the sights? Dance the night away? Or do as we did, which was mostly sit by the pool and gab with the other transient resort residents.

Our plan was simple. A few mornings of shopping, one night "out" to dinner, meaning away from the restaurant at the resort. Many hours holding down a table beside the pool. Complete with shade providing umbrella. Hey, it might have blown away without us there to keep it in place.

I had three pairs of shoes. The ones I wore on the plane, slip on tennie-runners (the gray and aqua to the left). Very comfortable flip-flops. Sketchers with a thick sole and neoprene upper. Worked GREAT for the walking portions of our trip. They feel just like walking shoes but much cooler. Last, a pair of simple sandals that worked for the pool, and were dressy enough for dining. Especially with snazzy toenails after a fresh pedi. I had only one pair of socks with me -- the compression socks I wore for the long hours of traveling. Easy to hand wash for the return trip.

Hand washing takes us to another aspect of traveling. Laundry service is available but it is next day, and adds to the cost of the trip. So when packing clothing, consider what will dry reasonably fast. Much of what I had, double knit jersey, didn't dry fast. It's comfortable, yes, but not particularly hand wash friendly. Do take along a small amount of laundry detergent. I didn't. Hotel soap only goes so far. Woolite, sample packs of Tide, or whatever you can find at the grocery store at home, take something!  Or plan on stopping at a store locally. We didn't get to the local grocery until well into the trip, so buying laundry soap was a moot point then. Next time, I'm taking a ziploc baggie or a travel bottle of detergent. I had a sample sized bottle of Downy spray to take out wrinkles. Didn't use it.

I had with me two sundresses that worked very well for dining. One pair of shorts and one skort that I wore for shopping and sometimes for dinner. They worked with the tops I packed -- three t-shirts, two would have been just fine. Three camisoles with built in bras for more casual looks. Different colors to keep things interesting. Two cotton big shirts to wear over the camis. One I didn't take off the hanger until the trip home, but I was glad to have it.

The big shirt I did wear was white and I'm not sure I'd take white again, at least not without good hand-washing detergent. Something about the sunscreens and deodorant I wore tended to discolor the whites. The white cami has huge bright yellow spots on it that bleach won't take out. Not sure what that is about, but I suspect Mom's miracle spot remover might have contributed. Now I'm wondering if dyeing it black will save it.

Consider your underthings carefully. Yes, they're small and pack easily. They also hand-wash well and usually dry reasonably fast. But do you need seven pairs? Pick the bras that go with your clothes. For instance, one sundress was blue and I happened to have a blue bra that didn't show much under the straps of the dress, but it did show some. That one made sense. My other dress was made of a thin tan with black print rayon. Flesh toned undies for sure! One night I only had black panties to wear and while no one said anything, well, I knew. Would have been a great night for a sarong around the waist. Didn't do that again. Three bras, five panties, and I was set.

One more item of intimate apparel I wish I'd had was a cotton bathrobe. Forget about dressing in the bathroom after your shower when visiting a place where the humidity is high. Do plan for a good half hour of sitting under a ceiling fan to complete the drying process. I have a  thin robe I stole from my husband that will be the first thing into the suitcase next time I go. About a week into the trip I did buy a sarong (the white spots are cut-outs - gorgeous!) from one of the beach vendors that worked well in place of a robe, but it's much less modest. If traveling alone or with your spouse, you might not need either. But if traveling involves sharing a room and bathroom with friends, do everyone a favor and bring a robe.

Now the most important clothing item. Your pool and/or beach wear. It's the main reason you're there, right? At least two swimsuits. Minimum. I saw women wear five different suits throughout a two week stay. But the minimum is two because you wash the one you wore and let it dry for a day while you wear the other. To go with those suits, a cover-up is highly recommended. I had two. One was very thin and matched one suit. I wore it most because it was lightweight, and frankly, it was cute. The other cover-up I bought specifically for the trip was jersey knit. It was far heavier, longer, and had a hood, which I'd thought would be beneficial to cover my hair. Wrong. It was too hot to wear. I wore it the day the other cover-up was drying from being washed. A day spent browsing in the flea market netted me a light cotton cover-up to replace it with. The heavy one will be great if we ever go swimming at an Alaskan lake. Until then it's staying in the closet.

Breakfast at the resort restaurant.
Why go anywhere else?
Head covering. I'm not a hat girl. They never really seem to fit me right. I have two straw hats with brims that I considered taking and in the end ditched them in favor of a bandanna, which was great, but lacked style. I could wear it in the pool, and while shopping downtown I needed it to pat the sweat away from my face. Mom had a great hat with a wide brim. it's 75% paper 25% polyester. It crushed in the luggage then popped right up. Next time I'm packing one, and only one, baseball cap. My hair is thinning on top and the protection is vital to keeping my scalp sunburn free. Not to mention the bill helps provide shade when trying to work on the laptop at pool side. I'll get to that in Part 2.

For nightwear, I took one very lightweight nightshirt. I could wash it in the morning and it would be dry by night, so one was all I needed. That worked perfectly! It was also lightweight enough I slept comfortably. Mom had long sleeved, long gowns and she still got a little cold with the AC and ceiling fan running. For me, without covers, it was heaven. Consider your roommates and their temperature needs.

Accessories and the other items I packed also require consideration, but I'll get to those in Part 2. If anyone is truly interested.

Everyone has travel stories. I'd love to hear what you consider necessary to pack, what never seemed to quite work out, and what you wish you'd packed, but didn't. What did you do to compensate for an oversight? What did you find yourself leaving behind? I'll always take travel tips.


Jane said...

Several years ago the Dear Hubby talked me into traveling with only carryon for 2 weeks in Europe. I was challenged, but since then have found it the only way to travel. Now I look forward to trips without big suitcases.

Shea McMaster said...

Not sure I could do that! Just the stuff I'll be discussing in Part 2 kills that whole idea.

Kudos to you for doing it!

bill tuss said...

Several years ago the Dear Hubby talked me into traveling with only carryon for 2 weeks in Europe. I was challenged, but since then have found it the only way to travel. Now I look forward to trips without big suitcases. lakeside resorts bc

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this post. I will use this post as my guide for our summer vacation. I'm looking forward to see and read more of your post.

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