Sometimes it’s hard to know what to bring on a trip, especially on a yacht sailing in different destinations. Here are some things that you should know!

  • First of all whatever you are thinking of packing is too much.
  • You can never have enough swim wear.
  • Ladies you may never wear those sexy stiletto sandals that you paid a fortune for.
  • And Men you will never wear shoes and socks or sandals and socks – just flip flops.
  • Leave most of your make-up at home as once you have that healthy glow of being in the sun you will need very little in the evening to enhance your looks.
  • Take plenty of moisturizing lotion and use it every night to replace what the sun has taken out.
  • For dinners ashore ladies only need a sundress and men you only need casual shirts, shorts and polo shirts – remember that in the BVI the locals are very formal and that eating dinner in your swim wear will not make them turn you away but they will be insulted. High end places will turn you away. More about that later.
  • Many small island restaurants still like to be paid in cash but most can accept Visa.

Weather permitting, and it will be very unusual for it not be, you will wear swim wear every day with a cover-up (or men a t-shirt) to go ashore. The local people of the islands are very conservative and they may smile at you in your string bikini as you walk towards that casual restaurant for a drink or lunch, but, they will be offended. Walk the beaches in your swim suits but please remember to cover up when going to local restaurants or walking through the streets.

So what should be in your bags?

  • Swim wear
  • Cover Ups for ladies
  • T-Shirts or loose casual shirts for men
  • A couple of pretty sun-dresses for going ashore for dinner
  • Men shorts are accepted dress except in the elegant resorts of Peter Island for example or any other “fancy” restaurant.
  • Thong sandals or dressy flat sandals or simple flip flops
  • Hats to protect from too much sun – men and women
  • A light jacket or sweater just in case and in places where the A/C may be too high
  • Reading material for relaxing on the beach or on the yacht – not a great selection of magazines or books once you leave the main towns like Road Town in the BVI

The tranquility of the pace of life in the Caribbean has a tendency to make people feel “lazy” in the sense that you really enjoy just relaxing in a hammock or on a sun pad on the front of the yacht; sipping a cool drink and swaying gently in the breeze.

After two days of being lulled by the motion of the yacht and the beauty of your surroundings you will not think of wearing anything but a swimsuit for the rest of your vacation. Clothes become an unwanted luxury. Many ladies throw on a sundress over their swim suits in the evening to go and dance on the beach or eat at a restaurant.

There are a few places where you may want to “dress” but again a nice sun-dress with a pair of flat sandals or pretty thong sandals will work. It is actually easier for women than men. There a few places in the islands, like Peter Island Resort, where men will be expected to wear long pants for dinner. But you can choose to avoid these places. The key to successful packing is to think about what you might like to do ashore before you go. Will you want to stop for dinner one night at a formal high end restaurant? Or do you want to simply go ashore in the dinghy in a sun-dress and eat at a beach restaurant?

The reason I suggest no high heels is easy really – have you ever tried getting into a dinghy in heels and had the Captain yelling at you or tried to put them on while standing in sand and then walking like a pregnant duck to the restaurant. Suddenly they lose that sexy image!

Even if you pull ashore onto a concrete landing stage you may probably still have to negotiate sand somewhere. And most landing stages are wooden. So you can imagine your heel sticking in the cracking while you continue forward.

Believe me I have seen this and I have done this before I saw the sense of leaving them behind. Barefoot is best in many places.

These are just my ideas based on the many packing mistakes I have made over the years.  Experience has taught me that on a yacht vacation in the Caribbean I only need swim wear and cover ups with maybe one nice dress for going ashore.

For my husband swim wear and casual shirts with a couple of nice short sleeve shirts. But like most women I can tend to forget all that I know and I still end up bringing home clothes that I had neatly ironed only to throw them straight back into the laundry without them ever seeing the light of day!

So I guess my motto is, in the infamous words of Coco Chanel “Less is more”! Bon Voyage!!!

Gail King for American Yacht Company

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