Even when you make a complete packing list, it’s inevitable that there will be last-minute add-ons that will keep your suitcase from actually zipping shut. And even though vacation clothing tends to be small (shorts and bathing suits take up a lot less space than sweaters and pants), the need for options ends up undoing any mental editing and outfit-planning that happened while daydreaming in that last pre-vacation board meeting.
So, whether you’re planning ahead for an upcoming trip or scrambling to get things together before you jet off tomorrow, we’ve broken down the spring traveling must-haves you simply cannot leave home without. The (major) key to packing smart and packing light is focusing on versatility; it’s what makes packing a breeze. Click through to see exactly what we mean.
A sleek, one-piece swimsuit works in the water and beyond. Wear it solo on the beach, and let it double as a bodysuit come evening when paired with skirts, shorts, and flowy pants.
Aerie Super Scoop One-Piece Swimsuit, $40, available at American Eagle.
Whether you’re using it as a cover-up, dressing it up with a skirt, or wearing it on a daytime excursion, you’ll be glad you packed a soft white shirt that goes with any look
WILT Easy Crew Split Sleeve T, $108, available at WILT.
A “dad hat ” is a double-whammy: It protects your face from the sun
and solves any bad-beach-hair woes.
New York Yankees Adult Clean Up Adjustable Hat, $20, available at Modell’s Sporting Goods.
Sunscreen: check. Magazines: check. Towel and clean clothes: check. A bag that holds all your needs is a must, so might as well go for a version that’s bold and colorful.
Antonello Fronte Shoulder Bag, $495, available at Shopbop.
With walking tours, outdoor activities, and shopping-filled afternoons on your agenda, your feet will definitely thank you for opting for a comfortable pair of kicks over flip-flops.
Adidas Originals EQT Support Ultra PK, $180, available at KITH.
A sporty pair of color-blocked shorts makes for an unconventional cover-up.
ME x Reebok Mesh Short, $70 $20, available at Melody Eshani.
It’s tempting to want to bring a handful of different sunglasses with you, but you’re better off banking on one that’s sure to go with everything.
RFLKT Eyewear Shadow Striped Mint Sunglasses, $65, available at Eye Buy Direct.
A loose, breathable pair of jeans works for plane travel just as well as it does for a night on the town.
Sea NY Vintage Blue Cuff Jean, $395, available at Avenue32.
Since it’s not full-on spring just yet, chilly nights may be in store. An on-trend hoodie is ideal for hanging out.
FENTY Puma x Rihanna Oversize Graphic Hoodie, $190, available at Bloomingdale’s.
For those envy-inducing beach shots, you’ll need a towel that’s as Instagram-worthy as the scenery itself.
Drye Hunee Bath Towel, $68, available at Drye.
A throw-on-and-go muscle tank can double as your headrest on the beach.
achel Comey Argento Top, $196, available at Need Supply.
A low, thick-heeled sandal is the key to dressing up while still feeling casual.
Frances Valentine Dottie Bow Heels, $425, available at Frances Valentine.
A beachy dress you can also wear out on the town? Two-in-one situations are the key to making packing a breeze.
Reformation Flynn Dress, $128, available at Reformation.
Ditch your flip-flops completely (if you dare!) in exchange for a more put-together option, like slip-ons with a criss-cross detail
Brother Vellies Burkina Slide In Charcoal Rings, $285, available at Brother Vellies.
A flattering wrap skirt doubles as a sarong — throw it in your beach bag to wear for those middle-of-the-day errands.
Mango Midi Wrap Skirt, $59.99, available at Mango.
You probably don’t want to lug your massive beach bag when it’s not necessary. That’s where a crossbody comes in: It’s hands-free, but still a good enough size to fit all the essentials.
ban.do Amigo Circle Bag, $95, available at ban.do.
A scarf doubles as a cute and functional accessory that can be worn in so many ways: Wrap it around your neck to finish off your shorts-and-a tank outfit, wear it as a headband, or tie it on the strap of your bag for an additional pop of color.
Lou & Grey Plaid Square Scarf, $58 $34.99, available at Lou & Grey.
We love our over-ear headphones, but for travel, rad metallic earbuds just make so much more sense (it’s all about precious carry-on real estate).
Happy Plugs In-Ear Headphones, $42, available at Selfridges.
Keep your phone safe and sound in your bag with a water-resistant watch that matches the sea-and-sand color palette.
The Horse The Classic, $189, available at The Horse.
Leave your expensive jewelry at home and just pack a cool choker that you can keep on from day to night without worrying that it’ll get lost or ruined.
Claire’s Two Piece Choker Necklaces, $9.99, available at Claire’s.
Let vacation serve as an excuse to ditch the boxer shorts/college T-shirt pairing for some fancy, matching pajamas. And by fancy, we don’t necessarily mean super-silky and super-expensive — something that even so slightly coordinates will do the trick.
Lunya Pima Sleep Set, $136, available at Lunya.
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