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What’s that you hear in the distance? The cry of a small blonde blogger being crushed under the weight of her excess baggage? The clatter of non-travel sized toiletries hiding from the TSA? The crush of a bulging carry on being shoved into a tiny overhead bin? Must be time for another overpacking confessional slash exhaustive edition of Inside My Bag!

Packing for ten days in the Caribbean — an active week in Bonaire followed by three blissful days in Aruba — sounds fairly straight forward. A couple bikinis and some sunscreen and you’re good, right? Not so fast. Our itinerary included some specialized activities and dress codes, not to mention the fact that I knew I’d be out and about with two other bloggers — and thus, about a dozen collective cameras — the whole time. Hence, I put a fair amount of thought into what to pack for Bonaire and Aruba, and it paid off big time.

This trip, I ditched my backpacks for two roll ons — a big foldable suitcase borrowed from my mom that I checked (unfortunately I can’t remember the brand), and a small  suitcase that I carried on (I went with the 22″ in teal and love how easy it is to spot on the conveyer belt.) My personal item on the plane was a , a Christmas gift from last year that I initially sneered but am now completely obsessed with and take everywhere as my travel purse (thanks mom!)

Packing for BonaireCute snap courtesy of !

Clothes and Swimwear

I focused on packing bright colorful clothes and tropical fun accessories — it’s the Caribbean, after all! Because I was bringing a full set of dive gear, I had to be somewhat picky about what clothes I brought along. While the days were all about wetsuits and bikinis, we headed to some fairly sophisticated restaurants in the evening for which I was happy to have brought along some cute maxi dresses and nice accessories. Here’s what made the cut:

• 6 dresses (4 short, 2 maxi, wore them all!)

• 4 skirts (2 short, 2 maxi — could have left the short ones at home)

• 2 shorts

• 1 romper

• 8 tops (2 tube tops, 2 tanks, 2 crop tops, 1 t-shirt and 1 beach cover up)

• 2 sets of workout gear (one I wore on the plane — could have left the other at home, sadly)

• 1 of socks and underwear

• 1 of bikinis and 1 one-piece

What to Pack for Bonaire

What to Wear in Bonaire

Shoes and Accessories

Ha ha to how many shoes I packed. I wish I’d used the trainers or ditched them as the only time I wore them was on the plane, but my workout aspirations were quickly ditched when I remembered how tiring diving all day can be. I also could have gone with either the flats or the dress sandals if I really wanted to pack light, but in the end I was happy to have both. Here’s what I brought along:

• 1 pair of trainers (embarrassed to say I didn’t work out the entire trip, rendering these more or less useless!)

• 1 pair of athletic sandals (brought expressly for a cave snorkeling tour, for which they were perfect)

• 1 pairs of dress sandals

• 1 pair flip flops

• 1 pair of metallic gold  (a new acquisition I’m totally obsessed with — so comfortable for traveling!)

• 1  tote

• 1 wristlet

• 1 box of jewelry and 1 belt

• 2 pairs of sunglasses

• 1 scarf (perfect for chilly evenings eating on the water)

• 1  (not pictured)

• 2 beach sarongs (not pictured but totally essential)

What to Pack for Bonaire

What to Pack for Bonaire and Aruba

Toiletries

For a full (yet slightly outdated) list of the toiletries I generally pack when I travel, see this post. Here’s a few that deserve a special shoutout for this particular Caribbean getaway:

•  (I brought both SPF 15 and SPF 30)

•  and 

• Lots of lotion and baby powder (the lotion for slapping on my dried-out skin after a dive, the baby powder for slapping on my sweaty skin when it’s been too long between them — chafing is real, y’all)

Solid conditioner for my hotel room (while I can use any ‘ol shampoo, I need a good conditioner and the ones the hotels we stayed in — if they had it at all — left a lot to be desired!) and leave-in conditioner for my purse (keeps my hair from drying out after too much sun and sea)

(my secret for leaving a beach vacation a bright blonde — I haven’t colored my hair in years!)

• Several spare s and my glasses! (Absolutely essential if you have sensitive eyes like me. Lots of time in the ocean can be tough on the eyes — I dive with my s in as I don’t have a prescription mask, and so I like to switch to my glasses as soon as I’m out of the water to give my poor peepers a break. Ideally it would be great to have a pair of prescription sunglasses too as a back up. Order online at !)

Travel Planning

Dive Gear

I get tons of questions about how I carry my dive gear when I travel. No secret travel tips here — I just shove it in. I put my regs and dive computer in my carry on as they are extremely expensive items that I would not like to have out of my eyesight, and the rest goes in my checked bag. For a full list of my dive gear and tips about how to start acquiring it, read this post. For the short version, carry on:

•  (not pictured) + snorkel

•  (not pictured)

•  wetsuit (get 10% off anything on the site using the code “Wanderland!”) + Billabong rash guard + Ripcurl surf suit

• BCD

• 

Packing List for Bonaire

What to Pack for Bonaire

Electronics

I had some pretty exciting gear upgrades before this trip — it was my first with my brand new underwater camera and housing system. I was blown away by what it could do! One thing I didn’t bring on this trip? My Kindle. I knew I’d be too busy gossiping with the girls, or flipping through a pile of old magazines I brought along to read and pitch to touch it. Here’s what I did bring along:

• + charger (not pictured) + headphones (not pictured)

•  + Charger + Spare Battery +  + 

•  + charger +  

• iPhone 5 + charging cord and cube +  + battery bank

• Time Machine

• + (requires an adaptor in order to secure to the GoPro, I grabbed one for $5 in NYC before I left)

Packing for Bonaire

The Canon G7X Underwater Housing

What’s on your Caribbean packing list? Find more In My Bag posts here!

This post was brought to you by , Australia’s #1 in eyewear. 

Please note I’m an affiliate of many of the products in this post and will earn a small percentage of your purchase if you buy them through these links, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting Meihoukai in Wanderland! Additionally, some of these products were provided to me by the manufacturers. Feel free to me with any questions.

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40 Comments...
  • Dominique
    December 14 2015

    I always pack way too many clothes… Most of what I bring remains unused. You seem to have done really well apart from a few skirts and training shoes (even though it’s always good to bring these because when you need them you don’t want to purchase them). Great packing list!
    Dominique recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 15 2015

      Yeah, this was one of my more successful packing attempts! Bringing dive gear really forces you to pare down elsewhere…

  • Leah
    December 14 2015

    It’s amazing how much your packing protocol changes when you’re going somewhere specific for a limited amount of time rather than on some extended backpacking trip to multiple destinations and for long stretches of time…your needs are completely different! I much prefer packing for one destination/climate, and even better, knowing I won’t have to schlep my luggage around besides to/from the airport 😉
    Leah recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 15 2015

      Seriously! Also, when you have an itinerary in front of you and basically know everything you’re going to do… it definitely helps you pack specific outfits rather than just throwing a bunch of shit in a bag.

  • Amanda
    December 14 2015

    Love these! I am headed to Roatan for a week come February and will be re-reading this then 🙂

    • Meihoukai
      December 15 2015

      Nice! I hope you’ve been all over Rika’s site 🙂 She’s amazing — take her out for a drink!

  • Britt
    December 14 2015

    Packing is seriously one of the hardest things.

    I thought I had it perfect for this trip but quickly realised within the first week that there were some items I just didn’t need or wasn’t going to use (like who needs a hair straightener when you are wearing a beanie everyday ?!?).

    Lucky for me I’m at my Aunt’s in the UK from the 18th and can dump some stuff with her and hopefully shed my shoulder bag that is just that one annoying extra addition of luggage. And as I’ll be returning in March I’ll be able to leave my summer wardrobe there. It’s going to be such a relief to shed a couple of kgs.

    So many pairs of shoes! I almost invested in the Tieks but was put off by lots of reviews about how easily they wear so couldn’t really justify the cost. I got the Butterfly Twists instead which I love as a dressy pair of shoes!
    Britt recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 15 2015

      Having a place or a person that allows you to swap out luggage is amazing when you’re traveling long term. A lifesaver! So far I looooove the comfort of the Tieks but have stressed about the way the big toe leaves a small mark on the leather. I’ve checked with other Tieks wearers and it just seems inevitable, sadly. But I still adore them, they are the most comfortable flats I’ve ever had.

  • tammyonthemove
    December 14 2015

    I love your flamingo dress. So cute. I’m always overpacking too, because I always have to take all my trekking gear with me and also some more dressy outfits for my office contracts.
    tammyonthemove recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 15 2015

      Thanks! I bought that from a little boutique in Athens, Greece, and it has been the best investment! I love it!

  • Thuc
    December 14 2015

    Australia’s #1 in eyewear?! Does that mean you are Oz-bound in the near future?? 🙂
    Thuc recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 15 2015

      Unfortunately not. It does mean this post was brought to you by an Australian company, though 🙂

  • Viv
    December 15 2015

    How do you manage wearing s while swimming? Do you always keep your eyes closed underwater or wear goggles? I’m always scared that my s will just float away if I open my eyes underwater!

    • Meihoukai
      December 23 2015

      If I’m swimming at the beach I just keep my eyes closed (I would even if I didn’t have s in — I think it hurts to open your eyes underwater!) When I’m diving or snorkeling or swimming laps for exercise I wear a mask or goggles. Hope that helps!

  • Maria del mar
    December 15 2015

    I made a post on taking long flights. Your post is somewhat in the same spirit and I love that you added pictures. I want to modify my post now!!!

  • Kathryn
    December 15 2015

    The soft suitcase you borrowed was an L.L. Bean. And here’s a travel tip I stumbled on: AAA members can buy tons of travel-related items at big discounts at AAA offices. I stopped by to get a paper map (remember those?) and it was like walking into a travel department store with great sales. Who knew? That’s where I bought the Baggallini purse.

    • Meihoukai
      December 23 2015

      I remember that! Good tip indeed as so many in the US are AAA members for their roadside services.

  • Nimh Verkerk
    December 15 2015

    Hi Meihoukai,

    Love your blog. I only miss our great Bonarian interchangeable sandals 🙂

    Hope you pack SunSmiles on your next trip, they are the best.

    You can find us in the center of Kralendijk. Hope to see you soon!

    Sunny regards,

    Nimh

    • Meihoukai
      December 23 2015

      I’ll have to stop by next time I’m in Bonaire 🙂 Thanks for the kind words!

  • becky hutner
    December 15 2015

    The Lipault is so cute! Esp in teal. Might have to be my next carry on.
    becky hutner recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 23 2015

      I just took it as my main bag for my most recent trip and it was awesome. Great for pulling around airports and small enough to fit on the front of a motorbike, should that factor in 🙂

  • Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate
    December 15 2015

    I’ve got an idea: How about you bequeath me the flamingo dress when you’re through with it. Cool? Cool.
    Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 23 2015

      Better idea: WE GET MATCHING ONES MADE.

  • Jael
    December 15 2015

    I love reading your packing lists! It helps me recenter and feel like a normal human being again after reading tons of blog posts by minimalist travelers who swear that if you can’t fit all that you need in a 30L backpack with oodles of space to spare while on a vacation to a tropical island, you’re doing it wrong. 30L? That’s the size of the bag I carry to uni ?

    • Meihoukai
      December 23 2015

      Ha, glad to hear it Jael! I will never be one of those people, I’m afraid 🙂

  • Leigh
    December 16 2015

    I always overpack because I need to be prepared for everything!

    Curious if you have any durable flip-flops you recommend? I’m traumatized from wearing them on vacation after one broke and I had to walk through Arlington Cemetery barefoot. D’oh!
    Leigh recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 23 2015

      I’m not really loyal to any. I bought a cheap pair from Target once that broke almost immediately, but I’ve usually had good luck with just grabbing any old pair. Sorry that’s not more helpful!

  • Cgrrl
    December 19 2015

    It all sounds lovely buuut the Sun Bum sunscreen you’re using contains oxybenzone (and other nasty toxins, carcinogens, and hormone disruptors) that kill the corals and has detrimental affects on sea life (nevermind humans). Hopefully Bonaire bans that chemical junk quick, before the last of their reefs are gone. Supposedly they’re working on it… At least there are some eco-reserves in Mexico who have already figured it out.

    • Meihoukai
      December 23 2015

      Hey Cgrrl, I try not to wear sunscreen when snorkeling or diving (I wear rash guards and wetsuits instead) and make sure I’ve had it on for half an hour before getting in the water at the beach (which my research has led me to believe lets off less chemicals into the water). Unfortunately, with a grandfather who died of skin cancer and two parents who have both had pre-cancerous cells removed from their skin, going sunscreen free is not an option for me. But I’m always open to hearing about alternatives, if there are any you want to share!

  • Lili
    January 7 2016

    Where did you get your athletic sandals? They’re gorgeous and all the ones I’ve seen are so ugly!

    • Meihoukai
      January 8 2016

      I’ve had them since high school (is it gross admitting you’ve had shoes for almost a decade?) and I’m pretty sure I bought them at DSW or somewhere similar! The brand, I’m pretty sure, is Sketchers 🙂

  • Charlotte
    May 23 2016

    Hey Meihoukai!

    Have Swishsuits discontinued your discount code? I was so close to ordering one but I think the wonderland code has expired?

    Thanks!

    Charlotte

    • Meihoukai
      May 24 2016

      Hey Charlotte! Actually, no — I just heard from someone else who used one, so it should totally be active! I’ll shoot them an email and see what’s up 🙂

      • Charlotte
        May 31 2016

        Thanks so much Meihoukai! Got my discount and my swish suit and I couldn’t be happier – you’re right, it really does suit anyone! 🙂

        • Meihoukai
          June 2 2016

          Yay! So happy to hear that Charlotte! Thrilled 🙂

  • Andy
    June 26 2016

    Hey Meihoukai,

    Thanks for this post. I’m off to Aruba next month and although some of the items are not relevant to me, I still found it useful. Cheers!

    • Meihoukai
      June 27 2016

      Lucky you, Andy! Enjoy Aruba — so much sunshine!

  • Eran
    August 28 2017

    What is actuall currency on Aruba? do they accept usd?

    • Meihoukai
      September 20 2017

      Hey Eran! The currency in Aruba is the florin but USD are widely accepted. Hope that helps!