The best part of a vacation is always in the middle. The worst parts are, namely, the packing before the trip and the unpacking that happens after. Packing is really important though, because the only thing that’s worse that having to pack is forgetting to pack something you need and ending up having to pay for something you otherwise already have back home. Worse, if you’re going on a cruise vacation, purchasing these items can prove to be more expensive, with common items costing as much as double at the port or on the ship.

More ideas: Best Weekend Getaways, Best Day Trips

Two Rules of Packing:

There are two basic rules to remember when packing, namely:

Bring everything you can’t live without for a couple of days. This includes the essentials as well as some items that are unique to you. You’ll be away for a couple of days and you won’t be able to easily go back for anything important.

Pack everything in separate bags. This is so that in the off chance that you lose one of your bags (or they get delayed in transit), you still have some of the stuff you need in the other bag.

Below are the different lists you’ll want to go through as you build your cruise vacation checklist. Remember, not everything on the list is expected to apply to you, but it’s worth a look.

Essential Items to Bring to a Cruise

These are your definite “must-brings” as they are important to your trip:

- Printed tickets of your flight or your confirmed booking (make sure to have multiple copies, as well as a soft copy on your mobile device for easy reference)

- Documents for the cruise

- Passports and visas

- Other documents proving citizenship

- Certificates for pets (i.e. vaccination)

- Driver’s license and auto insurance cards

- Medical documents like insurance cards

- Government issued ID

- ATM and Credit cards (make sure you inform your bank or credit card company you’re travelling outside; also have contact numbers in case you need to report lost or stolen cards)

- Cash, broken into different denominations

- Phone card and SIM for your phone (try to get one that works at your destination)

- List of contact numbers for emergencies

- Your purse or wallet

Personal Belongings You Might Forget

Do you have any of these? Don’t forget to bring them along!

- Watch

- Sunglasses and reading sunglasses

- Eyeglasses (bring spare glasses too!)

- Personal journal (and pens to write with)

- Business cards to give out to acquaintances and new friends

Some Helpful Stuff

These aren’t always necessary, but you’ll be glad you brought them

- Currency conversion chart

- Maps

- Guidebooks for different destinations

- Reading material (for those long layovers and waiting times)

- Foreign language dictionary and phrase books

Electronics and Gadgets Checklist

Admit it, you at least have one gadget you’re going to need to bring with you on your trip, so don’t forget them!

- Mobile phone

- Tablets

- Laptop computer or notebook

- Digital camera

- Underwater or waterproof cameras

- Extra memory cards

- iPods, MP3 players, etc.

- Portable hard drives

- Extra batteries

- Binoculars

- Adapters, converters, and extension cords

- Chargers for all of the above

- Clock or alarm clock

- Nightlights

- Flashlights

Medicine Packing List

You won’t always be able to run to a clinic when you need it. Make sure you have your meds prepared.

- Prescription drugs, vitamins, maintenance drugs, etc.

- First aid kits (containing antibiotic cream, bandages, band-aids, vaseline, q-tips, aspirin, anti-diarrhea meds, etc.)

- Hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol

- Sunscreen

- Bug repellant

Other Necessities Checklist

Go through this list quickly. You might need some of them.

- Cable lock ties (easier to lock stuff with than rope)

- Duct tape (for quick fixes)

- Ziploc bags (for laundry and other things that need to be kept dry)

- Corkscrew (make sure to put them inside checked luggage)

- Swiss Army knife (make sure to put in checked luggage)

- Umbrella (preferably a small, foldable one)

- Sewing kit with scissors (for quick fixes)

- Playing cards

- Extra cloth bags (for souvenirs)

- Neck pillow and blanket

- Tumblers or travel mugs

Tips for packing clothes

- Consider the number of days you’ll be travelling. Make sure you have enough for the trip, taking emergencies and contingencies into account, but at the same time you don’t end up over packing.

- Get as much information on the local fashion as possible. This means looking at the weather conditions as well as what the locals usually wear.

- If you’re taking part of cruise activities, ask if there are themes to certain events so you can bring something with you that suits the dress code.

For everything else, make sure you have the following:

- Underwear (absolute must-haves, no kidding!)

- Casual wear (for those days when you just want to lounge around and don’t have to wear anything specific)

- Swimwear

- Formal wear (bring at least one set in case you need to attend an impromptu formal event or something)

- Party clothes (so you won’t look like a tourist when you hit those clubs)

- Clothes for sleeping

- Warm clothes like jackets, sweaters, etc. (in case it gets cold)

As for your footwear, bring your casual sneakers and a pair of formal shoes. You can bring additional footwear in case you need to match certain outfits with the right footwear.

Finally, don’t forget to bring accessories! Those purses, jewelry, and other accents will make even the plainest outfits look new.

Tip: When traveling to a different place, try to dress conservatively at first. Once you see how people dress, you can adjust to their style accordingly. This will help you blend in and mingle with the locals better.

With a bit of research and preparation, packing for a cruise vacation doesn’t have to be as bad as people make it out to be. Just make sure that you think things through and spend a few days dedicated to packing. Don’t ever try to cram your packing! That’s definitely the best way to forget stuff. The earlier you get it done, the easier it is for you to realize if you’ve forgotten anything while it’s still early. That way, you’ll be able to make the most of your vacation.