You’ve booked your holiday and the countdown officially begins to hot weather, sand between your toes and pool-side margaritas.
Whether you’re headed to Mexico or somewhere else in Caribbean, you’re going to have an incredible week (or two).
While your resort will provide everything you need for some rest & relaxation, there are a few things you should bring from home to make your holiday perfect and a little cheaper, too (those resort shops are crazy expensive).
Here are my top tips about what to pack for an all inclusive resort vacation.
Headed on a cruise in the Caribbean?
A lot of these items would be applicable to bringing on a cruise as well.
Still undecided about where you’re headed?
Not sure if an all inclusive is a good deal?
Read my thoughts on whether they are worth it based on your travel style.
This tropical vacation packing list will help you:
- make sure you haven’t forgotten anything;
- potentially save you money by avoiding having to buy items at the resort shops;
- not over pack and haul around more than you need!
This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may make a commission at no extra cost to you. I only share products that I have used, love and trust.
Prefer to watch the video instead? Watch me use and demo these items!
A Beach Bag as Your Personal Item
This bag comes in 35 colors & patterns, and is water resistant - perfect for the beach & pool. It fits perfectly under the seat in the airplane and packs down flat when you don't need it.
Make your carry on luggage work double duty!
Instead of a large purse, pack a beach bag as your personal item you can fit under the seat on the plane.
This way you’ll have a beach bag to use at the resort to bring your items (sunscreen, book, camera) down to the pool or beach.
Plus, beach bags can hold quite a bit and can squish down easily to fit under the seat in the plane.
Recommended: this tote style beach bag. Comes in 30+ colors, is water proof and fits perfectly under the seat in the plane.
Or this brown tote that I used, featured in my YouTube video.
What to Pack in Your Carry On
When making my packing list for Mexico resort, I always start with items to bring in my carry-on.
In my carry on (link to the exact bag I use), I pack a swimsuit, at least one or 2 beach outfits and sandals (and more if I have the room).
This is way more important/necessary if you have a connecting flight, as your chances for luggage getting lost or delayed is much higher than a direct flight.
How much would it suck to not have your own swim suit and beach wear for a day or 2 before your luggage finally shows up.
I learned this the hard way!
But – even if your flight is direct, chances are you will be flying from a place much cooler than your beach destination.
Packing cubes make it so easy to pack an outfit in your carry-on, and keep it separate from everything else.
I use this set of 8 cubes (different sizes) to organize my suitcase, and leave out one of the smaller cubes to keep my airplane outfit organized.
If you’re like me, you pack a BUNCH of things in your bag – having your outfit packed neatly in a cube allows you to easily grab it without riffling through everything.
Pack Items to Change into on the Plane
Just before the plane starts its descent I like to change into shorts or a summer dress.
Because as soon as you get off the plane the heat and humidity hits you like a brick wall!
I love this casual dress (comes in tons of colors and patterns) that’s easy to pack and can be dressed up or down once you’re at the resort.
You don’t want to be stuck wearing jeans or leggings in the hot & humid customs line!
I use this carry on roller bag every time I fly.
But this tote bag is super cute if you want a smaller carry on.
This is my number one travel bag. It's small enough for your second carry-on item (fits under the seat) but large enough to fit enough for a weekend trip. It has an internal wet pocket if you need to travel with a wet swim suit!
If you have a strict weight limit for your carry-on luggage on your airline, here are my top 7 carry-on bags UNDER 6 pounds (3kgs) tested on multiple airlines.
>> Visiting Puerto Vallarta, Mexico? Here are 14 Day Trips to Take Off the Resort (+itineraries, hidden gems and secret spots)!
Clothing Checklist for an All Inclusive Resort
1. Beach Cover Up
Swimsuits are obvious, but I usually bring at least one beach cover up.
These are great for when you need to run back to your room to grab something.
Or, if you’re taking a break from the pool and going to grab some lunch buffet or a snack.
It’s one size fits all and so comfy! It also comes in 18 other colors!
P.S. – I loved my sandals in the photo above. They were comfy enough to wear by the pool and walking around the resort all day, but dressy enough to wear in the evening.
2. Evening Wear
Evening dinners at the all inclusive resorts are the best!
Depending which resort you’re staying at, there are always a few choices between casual dining and some options that are more upscale.
There are usually dress codes in place for evening wear at all inclusive resorts.
Plan to pack at least 2 or 3 outfits for this.
A couple of nice beach dresses or skirts will do, or some shorts that you can dress up with a nice top.
Need more outfit ideas? Check my Amazon Storefront for some inspo!
Men will usually need a shirt with a collar to get into the restaurants for dinner.
Definitely no tank tops or muscle shirts. And bring at least one pair of long pants.
If you’re staying at an adult only resort or a luxury property (like Secrets or Sandals), this will be a must.
Some other resorts will allow men to wear shorts but as long as a collared shirt and close toed shoes are worn.
3. Active Wear
If you’re planning to do an excursion or two on your trip, bring an outfit that you can comfortably move in.
Good walking shoes, active shorts and a comfortable tank top or t-shirt.
4. A Rash Guard
Every all inclusive resort packing list should include a rash guard with SPF.
This is something that I will never leave home without when heading out on a beach vacation.
I learned this the hard way after my first time visiting Huatulco.
What usually happens on any all inclusive vacation is you spend the first day in the pool soaking up the sun.
But then you get sunburned. Bad.
And then, the next 2 or 3 days suck because you’re spending all your time in the shade.
Wearing a rash guard allows you to still hang out in the pool even if you have gotten a little red.
This is why you will notice every all inclusive resort has these for sale in their shops.
But the price tags are usually somewhere between $50-100.
Plus, if you’re planning to do any boogie boarding or surfing, rash guards are a must have.
It also saves you from having to reapply sunscreen all day long!
Pack one with you or grab this rash guard from Amazon for much cheaper.
And it comes in over 20 different colors and patterns!
P.S. are you vegan? Read about the 14 Best Vegan All Inclusive Resorts in North America
5. The Right Hat
This is the best selling beach hat on Amazon! It's big enough to protect you from the sun, but small enough that it doesn't get in the way - you can also squish it down to pack away and it doesn't get flattened.
And the last piece of ‘clothing’ is always a hat.
I love my big floppy hat, and these are great for hanging out by the pool.
But if you’re going to be spending more time on the beach, it gets windy – and big floppy hats aren’t the best.
Same with when you’re on a cruise, it’s windy!
For something perfectly in between a big floppy hat and a fedora, try this wide brimmed hat that comes in a ton of colors.
Sun Hats for Men
Guys need a hat too!
My husband packs two hats for his all inclusive vacation.
He loves his bucket hat because it’s small and can fold down into nothing (they’re also so popular right now).
And he also brings a wide-brimmed hat when it’s extra hot out when he needs a little more sun protection.
6. Two Pairs of Sunglasses
I also brought 3 pairs of these sunglasses with me!
I like bringing these $20 sunglasses just in case anything happens to them.
They came in handy on this last trip because my husband actually lost his Ray Bans somewhere on the beach.
And these one are unisex and look great on any face shape.
I liked the black ones, brown ones and pink mirrored ones because they’re fun for the pool.
They’re also polarized which is a must-have if you’re by the water all day (whether it’s pool or ocean).
These are the perfect sunglasses for a beach vacation - I have 3 pairs! Lightweight, polarized and are such a great price.
7. A Travel Jewelry Case
Never deal with tangled necklaces again! This compact design is perfect for travel and has so many compartments to keep things organized. It can also double as a case for organizing your charging cords and cables!
Keep all your rings, necklaces and bracelets organized with a travel jewelry case. There’s a couple reasons for this.
Chances are, you’ll probably want to wear a couple of nice pieces out for your evening dinners.
But this will also come in handy for the jewelry you buy on vacation!
Between the beach vendors and the markets that set up at the larger all-inclusive resorts, I always come home from Mexico with at least a necklace and a new ring.
Pack them away safely in your new organizer (instead of jamming them in random zippers in your luggage)!
8. A Swimsuit Wet Bag
These are a must for a beach vacation or cruise when you use the pool on the last day before your flight home and your swimsuit is still wet.
I know what you’re thinking – you can just hang your swimsuits out to dry on your room’s balcony.
But a wet bag is a must have for your last day at the resort.
Comes in Handy at the End of Your Trip
On your day of departure you will have to check out from your room around noon even if your flight isn’t leaving until the evening.
The resort will store your bags away for the afternoon while you lounge by the pool and soak up every last bit of sunshine.
Most resorts will have a hospitality suite or a large change room where you can change out of your swimsuit, shower and freshen up before you leave.
Avoid Wet Items in Your Luggage for the Flight Home
This is where the wet bag comes in handy.
You can pack your suits in these waterproof bags and throw it into your luggage and not have to worry about anything else getting damp or smelly on the long flight.
Then, once you’re home you can reuse them for your gym clothes or cloth diapers.
Beach and Poolside Must Haves
As far as a list of things to take to the beach and pool, there are a few items that are a life-saver when it comes to
- finding loungers;
- hiding your valuables;
- keeping your drinks cool; and
- having fun in the water.
9. Towel Clips/Boca Clips
These are something I never would have thought of until actually staying at an all inclusive resort.
If you’re having a pool day, most people head down to the pool early to grab the best spot.
You grab a couple of lounge chairs, lay your towels on them and leave a book and your sunscreen to tell others that these are your loungers.
Then you go grab a coffee or breakfast and come back to your seats later.
But if you bring these towel clips, not only do they secure your towels to your chairs (it does get windy by the ocean after all), you can also easily identify which chairs are yours from all the same hotel towels.
(They come in fun shapes like margaritas, flamingos, flip flips, parrots and more).
They’re also perfect for clipping your wet swim suits to your room balcony to dry out.
10. An Insulated Cup or Tumbler
The perfect Stanley dupe! It comes in 39 colors. Use it for poolside drinks but also to stay hydrated on vacation!
If there is a downside to all inclusive resorts, it’s how much plastic gets used and thrown away from all the free flowing drinks.
Also, ice melts super fast!
If you’re trying to be a responsible traveler, think about bringing your own reusable cup for all your poolside drinks.
Besides reducing the amount of plastic you would otherwise be using, there are couple other reasons why you should consider bringing one.
Depending on what resort you’re staying at, they do serve drinks in glass.
But when you watch them wash the glasses, sometimes you might question how clean they are.
I’ve definitely witnessed poolside bars at their peak busy times, and while they try their best to keep up with clean glasses, you just never know.
If you’re any type of germaphobe, your own glass will keep you happy.
And at the very least, an insulated cup is going to keep your drinks way colder!
Those piña coladas melt super fast in 30 degree sunshine.
Just have your bottled water beside you to rinse it out before you go for a refill, or ask the bartender to do a quick rinse with bottled water.
Recommended: this insulated tumbler (the best Stanley dupe) – it’s affordable (in case you lose it) and holds up to the Stanley and YETI brands.
An insulated tumbler with a reusable straw is the best type of cup to bring to an all inclusive resort.
Need some ideas about what drinks to order?
Check my 55 best drinks to order at an all inclusive resort (including frozen favorites, low calorie options, shots and after dinner/dessert drinks)
Visiting Huatulco Mexico?: Top Three All Inclusive Resorts in Huatulco Reviewed and Compared
11. Something to Hide Your Money and Valuables
Perfect for at the beach, pool, music festivals, clubs or concerts.
All inclusive resorts are generally very safe, but if you have any concerns at all, consider bring a decoy item to hide your stuff!
This is especially important when packing for the busy beaches of Cancun.
It’s not so much of a concern when you’re in the pool and close to your lounge chair, but it’s when you’re in the ocean and further away from your things.
Recommended: I love this scrunchie that has a hidden zipper where you can stash your stuff!
Wear it in your hair, on your wrist or leave it on your beach chair and no one would think twice (also perfect for music festivals and outdoor concerts)!
12. A Waterproof Passport Protector
Keep your passport dry and avoid humidity damage if you're traveling somewhere tropical. You can also use it for your wallet, phone & keys when you want to go swimming but don't have anywhere to leave your items.
This might seem odd, but I will never travel to a warm and humid destination without one of these.
A few years ago I was staying at an all inclusive resort in Mexico and kept my passport in the room safe the entire time.
Avoid Humidity Damage
I didn’t really notice or think about the humidity until I went to renew my passport a few months later.
The passport office almost didn’t accept my passport for renewal because some of the pages had curled from the high humidity from my recent trip to Mexico.
To them, it was considered borderline damage.
And, if your passport is damaged, you have to reapply for a new one (which is a huge pain in the you-know-what).
Thankfully they accepted it in the end, but I’ll never risk that again.
13. Your Own Snorkel Gear
If you plan to do any snorkeling on your trip, this 2-in-1 snorkel and mask system works SO much better than the traditional 2-piece snorkel set. Comes in 16 colors and adult & children's sizes.
Many resorts have water activity equipment free for guests to use.
But if you’re interested in snorkeling, I would recommend bringing your own gear.
You just never know how well this stuff gets cleaned.
Plus, Amazon has these game changer snorkel masks.
They’re one piece, have a full face mask that’s way more comfortable than those old school goggles, and there’s an attachment for your GoPro.
>> Visiting Cancun or Playa Del Carmen? 10 Must See Mayan Riviera Cenotes Near Playa Del Carmen and Tulum
14. GoPro Dome Attachment
Speaking of GoPro, if you want to take some next level images, you should get one of these.
You can get some epic half underwater photos with this dome attachment.
It works by moving the waterline away from the lens to allow you to capture both underwater and over water subjects in the same image.
It makes some of the best tropical vacation photo memories if you want to up your game!
15. A GoPro or GoPro Alternative
This is the #1 rated alternative GoPro camera at a fraction of the price.
And, if you don’t have a GoPro and don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars to get one, you can find this best rated GoPro alternative on Amazon for literally a fraction of the price.
You can grab one with a memory card for well under a hundred bucks.
16. Reef Safe Sunscreen
Not only is this sunscreen safe for reefs and marine life, it's the best choice for those with sensitive skin. The bottle change color when it's exposed to harmful UV rays - a good reminder to reapply.
If you plan on doing any excursions to swim in cenotes or other naturally delicate ecosystems, it is so important to ensure you’re wearing sunscreen that is reef safe.
Many tours even check your bottles before jumping in the water to ensure it complies.
If you’re only traveling with a carry-on, try a sunscreen stick so that it doesn’t count towards your liquids!
17. Pool Floaties
You will be the envy of all other resort guests when you bring out your pool floaties!
These water hammocks are the perfect size for your luggage as they pack away so flat.
They have two ‘pillows’ on each joined by mesh in the middle.
They’re less than $20 and are the easiest floaties to inflate and pack away again.
The most fun accessory you can pack for your vacation!
18. Pharmacy and Hangover Essentials to Bring When Staying at an All Inclusive Resort
Your all inclusive resort packing list needs to include a few pharmacy essentials from home.
You or someone on your trip will likely experience an upset or unsettled stomach at some point.
Whether it’s from getting used to the food (too much tropical fruit can upset your stomach), or just having too many sugary drinks.
And bring your own pain relievers from home as they’re just too expensive at the resort shops.
Depending on where you’re headed, mosquitoes can be a bother at night.
You won’t notice them in some busier areas like Cancun, but if you’re someone who always seems to get bit, bug repellent wipes are a great idea to pack with you (never have to worry about the bottle leaking).
And if this is your first all inclusive or tropical vacation, you never know how your skin might react to the heat.
Plan to bring a soothing cream to combat itchy red skin from the sun and heat.
Here’s my tropical vacation checklist:
- Pepto Bismol and Tums
- Tylenol or Advil
- Probiotics (start taking them a couple weeks before your trip)
- Aloe Vera or an After-Sun Stick
- SPF Chapstick
- Ear Plugs
- Heat rash cream/calamine lotion
19. Bring Cash for Tipping at the Resort
It’s a good idea to have a bunch of small bills handy for tipping at the resort.
If you go up to the pool bar or lobby bar, tipping one US dollar or 20 pesos (per drink) is a good idea.
That’s minimum and you can always tip more.
If you’re getting drinks brought to you by the pool servers, I usually tip the equivalent of 5 or 10 USD, either 100 or 200 pesos.
That should cover tips for a few drinks and ensure the servers come back to check on you often.
It’s also good practice to tip your housekeeping staff.
Depending on my bill sizes, I’ll either leave small bills each day, or a larger bill every 2 or 3 days.
The most underrated thing you can pack for your all inclusive vacation is a game or a deck of cards!
Most resorts have gorgeous lobbies and lounge areas with sweeping views and comfy seating.
Looking for something to do during happy hour?
Or after you’re done at the pool for the day, but aren’t quite ready for dinner?
Have a drink while you play a game!
I usually bring Mexican Trains – it’s a dominos game that can be played with 2 to 8 players.
It’s quick to learn, fast paced, competitive and keeps everyone engaged!
Important Reading: 26 Travel Tips for Mexico You Are Guaranteed to Use
How to Not Over Pack for Your All Inclusive Vacation
There are definitely things you don’t need to bring so that you can save space in your luggage.
You don’t need towels, as the resort provides these to all guests, and you can exchange them for clean dry ones at any time.
Too Many Shoes
You really only need a couple pairs of flip flops or sandals and maybe one pair of some evening sandals for your dinners.
There are usually a lot of stairs at all inclusive resorts, or if you head into any of the nearby towns or cities, most streets are cobblestone.
I never bring heels, but sometimes a pair of wedges.
A hair straightener. If you’re traveling anywhere tropical, it’s going to be super humid.
If you normally straighten your hair, embrace the curls and the salty ocean beach waves!
Bringing too many Clothes
Bring way less clothes than you think you need.
There are so many beach vendors and markets that sell adorable clothes, hats, sunglasses, jewelry and shoes.
And this is one of favorite things about a beach vacation is buy a cute Mexican sundress or something similar.
If you do forget anything, you can always buy it.
More Essential Travel Items That are a Complete Game Changer
As a full-time traveler, there’s a few things that I ALWAYS pack for every trip, not resort trips.
These are my unique items that every traveler should have that may not be obvious, but make travel so much easier.
- a scarf with a hidden pocket
- soothing tea bags for the plane
- an extra long charger cable
More All Inclusive Resort, Mexico & Packing Posts:
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