Caribbean Vacation!
 By Donna Wolfson 

A Caribbean vacation; there is no finer way to truly relax!

Deciding what islands to explore during your sailing vacation is the hard part.

Melody Delgado at ViSailing has plenty of suggestions to help you decide on the perfect Caribbean vacation.

Once your sail charter is booked, the next decision is what to take with you. Nothing can be easier than packing for a Caribbean vacation.

Unfortunately, most first time sailing vacationers pack too much! With plenty of sun and sea, life on the Islands is very casual, and you really need very little.

The following nine tips should help avoid over packing and ensure you have a great sailing vacation.

Nine Tips Packing for a Caribbean Vacation:

1.  The first thing to keep in mind is that storage space on a sailing vessel is usually limited and not conducive to hard-sided suitcases. Thus, strong duffel bags work best because they can be folded up when not in use. In addition, their size limits what you can bring. Most importantly, a duffel bag fits in the overhead bin of an airplane.

Too often, I have seen family and friends check luggage for a Caribbean vacation adventure only to have it not arrive. Islanders are laid back.

As one friendly airline agent on Beef Island, BVI replied to my sister's inquiry about her lost luggage "If it's not here, Mon, it's somewhere else." That somewhere else happened to be a round trip flight from Puerto Rico to Martinique and back before finally ending up back at her home in Wisconsin three weeks later.

Thus, the first tip is to use a duffel bag and carry it on the plane! This avoids the stress of dealing with lost luggage. Before thinking of what to wear, there is something more important than how you will look - your travel documents.

2.  The second tip is to put everything together you will need for your sailing vacation. These documents include your passport, as well as a copy of your passport to keep in a separate place in case your original is lost, and your charter package paperwork.

Everyone taking a Caribbean vacation is now required to have a passport. Once your sailing vacation is booked, Virgin Island Sailing will send you a confirmation packet.

If you are chartering a bareboat and intend to travel to different islands, it is wise to bring additional copies of the crew list to facilitate the customs check-in process.

3.  The third tip is that you do not need a lot of clothes for a Caribbean vacation. During the days aboard the boat, you only need swim suits and perhaps a cover-up.

On shore, there are some finer class resorts and restaurants, like the Peter Island Yacht Club in the BVI, that require dress trousers and jackets for men and dresses for women.

Most people on a Caribbean vacation prefer a more relaxed atmosphere. The majority of island restaurants are casual. Shorts and T-shirts are perfectly acceptable, even for dinner.

For a one week sailing vacation, you will need the following clothing items:

  • 3-4 swim suits;
  • 3-4 pairs of shorts;
  • 7 t-shirts (plus whatever you buy along the way);
  • Sandals and walking shoes (either tennis shoes or boat shoes) which can get wet;
  • Swim suit cover-up;
  • Enough underwear for the week;
  • Sleepwear if others other than your spouse or partner are on the cruise;
  • A light windbreaker for quick tropical downpours;
  • A beach towel; 
  • Your personal toiletries.

It is also a good idea to have some kind of day pack or fanny pack that lets you carry money, sunglasses, passport, guide books, a water bottle, sunscreen or anything else you might need ashore.

4.  The fourth tip on your Caribbean vacation is to make sure you have protection from the sun. The constant trade winds keep the temperature comfortable, but the combined effect of overhead tropical sun and reflection from both sails and water can cause severe sunburns on pale Northern bodies.

It is imperative to have suntan lotion with at least SPF 15. In addition, do not forget sunglasses, a baseball cap or sun visor, and sunburn soothers.

5.  The fifth tip is to not lose Caribbean vacation fun time because of small emergencies. Bring any prescription medicine in their clearly marked original containers to avoid any hassles at Customs.

Always have enough medicine on hand for a couple of extra days in case of travel delays when returning home.

Although most chartered sailing vessels will have a First Aid Kit aboard, make sure to bring a small pouch of band aids, antibacterial cream, aspirin or non-aspirin pain relievers, seasickness remedies, anti-diarrhoea medication, and a small can of bug spray.

It is also important to bring along a small flashlight. Flashlights are great to have in your cabin in an unfamiliar dark boat, and are useful as dingy "headlights" when returning to your boat after a night ashore sampling tropical drinks.

More Tips for a Caribbean Vacation:

6.  The sixth tip is regarding water gear. Almost all of the Caribbean Islands have some place to snorkel.

Most sailing charters either have snorkel equipment already on board, or it is available at the Charter office where you pick up your boat.

Frankly, using a second hand snorkel is somewhat like borrowing someone else's toothbrush. If that bugs you, bring along an inexpensive snorkel on your Caribbean vacation.

7.  The seventh tip is do not forget your memory maker. You will want to remember your Caribbean vacation and be able to share it with others. Bring along a digital camera as well as an extra memory card and set of batteries in case you are unable to recharge it.

Keep your camera in a good, strong, waterproof bag because it can get wet while sailing. I found the perfect size bag at the local dive shop. A disposable or waterproof camera is great for kids.

8.  The eighth tip is to include small items for free time either during an inter-island passage or in the anchorage. These items can include playing cards, paperback books, and CDs since most sailing charters have audio equipment aboard.

Although your sailing vessel will usually be equipped with a set of binoculars, most charterers like to bring along their own because it is always fun to check out your neighbours in the anchorage.

9.  Finally, the last tip is to bring along Zip Lock bags in several sizes on your Caribbean vacation. They are good for keeping important travel documents dry, for putting damp swim suits in before placing in your luggage, for separating clean from dirty laundry, and most importantly, wrapping up that bottle of rum you bring back stateside so it does not leak in your duffle bag.

Remember, however, that if you do have that bottle of rum, you will need to check your luggage. You can not carry bottles of liquor on board the airplane anymore.

No matter what your destination is on your Caribbean  vacation, there are three things in common- there will be lots of sun, lots of sea, and you will be living on a sailboat.

If you need more suggestions on how to pack, Follow the above tips, your life on board will be easy and safe, and most importantly, it will be one of the most relaxing and fun vacations you will ever experience!

Donna Wolfson also know as "Sailgirl" at Virgin Island Sailing, has been sailing in the Caribbean and writing about it for years. Learn more about a Caribbean Sailing Vacation.

Article Source: Ezine Articles by Donna Wolfson    

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