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What to Pack for a Sailing Vacation

What to Pack for a Sailing Vacation

You’ve booked your dream vacation, a sailing trip across the vast blue expanses of the Grecian coast or the tropical paradise of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), and it’s steadily approaching. It’s time to think about what to bring on your sailing trip. 

Packing for a sailing trip can be overwhelming, even if sailing comes naturally to you. There are things you need for a sailing trip that you wouldn’t for a city break or a beachside vacation, but over-preparing could leave you without much cabin space. 

To save you stress, we have prepared a list of the essential things to pack for a sailing trip (as well as a few of our favorite extras). If you have the basics covered you can set off for anything from a power charter to a crewed charter with complete ease of mind. Let’s dive right in…

Your Sailing Vacation Packing List Essentials

Even if you forget everything else you wanted to bring for your trip, here’s a quick pack list of what to bring on a sailing trip to ensure it goes smoothly:

  1. A duffel bag. When packing for a sailing vacation, you need to ensure that you can pack light enough to fit your luggage in the cabin storage. A duffel bag is perfect for this – the softness and flexibility you can’t get in a suitcase will also make it easier to fit into small spaces.
  2. Credit cards and cash. Naturally, you’re going to bring money with you when you go on vacation, but make sure you have more than one option. While credit and debit cards are usually the most convenient option, cash can be invaluable for small purchases when you’re abroad.
  3. Toiletries (travel-sized). We recommend bringing all your essential toiletries – toothpaste, deodorant, shaving cream, etc – in travel-sized portions so they can fit comfortably in the overhead cabin storage. 
  4. Reef-safe sunscreen. There are lots of things you could bring to protect yourself from the sun (see below), but this is the most important. Make sure you bring a strong sunscreen you can apply multiple times a day, and if you’re going somewhere like the U.S. Virgin Islands, Thailand or Seychelles, you need to make sure that your sunscreen is reef-safe. Sunscreens containing harmful chemicals that bleach the coral reefs are banned in these areas. 
  5. A dry bag + waterproof phone case. A sailing vacation is a little less relaxing when you’re concerned about ruining your phone, so preventative measures like a dry bag or waterproof phone case are really helpful to keep things like your electronics and books splash-safe.
  6. Electronics Adapters. Check the specs of the yacht you’ve booked when you’re packing and prepare adapters you can use for all your charger cables accordingly.
  7. Relief Bands. If you can see yourself getting seasick while you adapt to life on the yacht, we recommend getting relief bands. These are a simple way to tackle nausea without any side effects. 
  8. Any necessary medication. You’ll have a first aid kit on board, but remember to bring any prescribed medications with you that you know won’t be provided.

Important documentation. At a minimum, you’ll need to ensure you have proof of identity and (if you’re chartering your own yacht) your sailing qualifications. We would recommend investing in lanyards or something similar to protect these documents and help keep them all in one place.

What to Wear on a Sailing Vacation

It can feel impossible to pack the right clothes for a sailing vacation – once you’ve figured out how to pack for the weather and bring enough clothes to cover every situation, you then need to ensure they can all fit in your luggage. 

So, what to do? Here are some of the most important clothing options – you can use this list to figure out how much you’ll need of each.

  1. Underwear. Bring enough for every day of your trip!
  2. T-shirts. This should be the base of your wardrobe – not only are t-shirts cool and convenient, but you can add layers on top if you’re cold. We would say to bring almost as many as there are days on your vacation.
  3. Long-sleeved shirts. These are convenient if the sun is really blazing – you can protect your arms and shoulders a little more while still wearing something loose and breathable (especially if made of cotton or linen). One or two of these may be enough depending on the climate of your charter.
  4. Shorts/pants/skirts. Again, the focus here is shorts or trousers that are loose and made of breathable fabric. Bottoms don’t get dirty as easily as tops, so you’ll probably be fine to save space in your bag by packing half as many. 

(Pro-tip: if you want to mostly wear sundresses and skirts, bring talcum powder or wear tights to stop your thighs from chafing on the days when you want to walk lots.)

  1. Deck shoes and/or water shoes. These footwear options both have a lot of grip, so they’re the perfect solution to prevent slipping on deck. They’re also both options that you can wear without socks, so you don’t have to worry about socks getting soaked through.
  2. Evening wear. If you want to go to dinner on shore, there are a lot of situations where your casual summer clothes won’t be appropriate. Bring at least one outfit you can dress up for a restaurant.
  3. Waterproof gear. A high-quality waterproof coat may come in handy, regardless of where your charter is. If you have one that’s lightweight and breathable, you’re prepared whatever the weather.
  4. Sailing gloves. If you choose a bareboat or skippered charter, you will have opportunities to sail the yacht. We truly believe that sailing gloves make this easier – they improve your grip on the wheel and protect your hands.
  5. Swimwear + goggles. We suggest bringing multiple swimwear options so you can let some dry in the sun while using the others. Goggles or a snorkel can be a good investment, too. 

If you also make sure to check the weather for your charter ahead of packing, you can’t go wrong.

What to Bring on a Sailing Trip to Stay Safe in the Sun

From the Mediterranean to the Exotics, a lot of our charters fall in very hot and sunny areas. With the water reflecting the rays all around you, you might be wondering how you’re going to protect yourself. Aside from a good sunscreen, there are several extra things you can bring, including: 

  1. Polarized sunglasses. These are an absolute must for a sailing trip. Sailing can be difficult on the eyes – with light reflecting off the water in every direction, polarized sunglasses help give you clearer vision and alleviate eye strain in bright weather.
  2. “Croakies” or sunglass straps. You wouldn’t want your sunglasses to slip off while you’re chartering your yacht and plunge into the sea! This is just a simple way to keep your sunglasses around your neck for when you need them.
  3. SPF lip balm. This is something a lot of people might not consider – having an SPF lip balm that you can top up often is no bad thing, and a simple way to keep your skin protected from UV rays.
  4. Insulated water bottles. Buying and carrying PET-treated plastic water bottles is not ideal in sunny weather – direct sunlight causes chemicals from the plastic to leach into the water, and can also affect the taste of the water. Investing in an insulated metal water bottle not only keeps your water cold but eliminates these problems. A glass bottle would also be preferable.
  5. Hat. A hat that you don’t mind wrinkling in your luggage is great for protecting your scalp and neck. 

Sun guards for arms. UV arm sleeves are designed to be protective and breathable – if you’re chartering a yacht yourself, these allow you to sail free from the concern that your arms will burn in direct sunlight.

Packing List Extras for Comfort and Leisure

If you download your favorite films or TV shows in advance, you’ll probably have more than enough entertainment for your sailing vacation – after all, a lot of the days will be preoccupied with exploring! But if you think your experience could be improved with a little personalization, here are some recommendations from people who have enjoyed our sailing charters in the past:

  1. Portable speaker. Let your favorite music or podcasts echo across the catamaran or monohull of your choice.
  2. Pack of cards. Whether that’s a classic deck of cards or a specific game, bringing something like this is a brilliant way to spend time with your family or friends on lazy evenings in the yacht.
  3. Books. Essential to any sailing vacation packing list is something you can enjoy alone, and bringing something to read is a great way to entertain yourself when your travel companions are away. If you find your everyday life too chaotic to let you get back to reading, take the time away as a chance to get lost in a book.
  4. Inflatable lanterns. This is by no means compulsory, but bringing inflatable lanterns (if you have the space in your bag) is a lovely way to add a little more ambience to your sailing vacation. If you want to spend your evenings sipping champagne under a canopy of stars, inflatable lanterns are a small thing you can do to create a cozy and more romantic atmosphere.
  5. Star finder. If you live in the city and don’t see the stars often, then make the most of this opportunity – pack a star finder to add a little wonder to your evenings out at sea.
  6. Hammock. People tend to love or hate hammocks. If you’re in the former category, you’ll be delighted to hear that there are plenty of spaces across a yacht where you can string one up. Feel your weight melt away as you sway in the breeze.

An inflatable raft. We don’t include a lot of water toys in our charters, so we like to recommend bringing things like inflatable rafts to get the most out of your time on the water.

What Else to Consider Packing for your Sailing Trip

The most important thing to remember when you pack for a sailing vacation is that you consider all the added factors – the destination of your trip, the duration, and the charter extras included to name a few. If you’re packing for tropical climates, for instance, you’ll need to pack for much hotter weather than you would for milder climates – see our packing guides for the Caribbean and Tahiti for more tailored advice. 

Whether you dream of a week spent off the coast of romantic Italy, serene Belize or sunny Grenada, start packing for your dream vacation today by booking with the Moorings.



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