Planning a Mediterranean cruise packing list when you are traveling for an extended getaway can be daunting. My plus-one and I were cruising for 17 days in August across the sunkissed shores of Spain, France, Italy, and Greece. It was hot, hot, hot! As a seasoned traveler, I have honed my packing skills fairly well. I had all my must-haves, but I overpacked just a smidge and tossed in a few things I really didn’t need.
What To Bring On A Mediterranean Cruise
We were cruising on Oceania Cruises’ Riviera Ship. The dress code on-board during the day was casual but evening wear was listed as “country club casual.” In reality, guests ratched the evening wear up several notches to “country club chic with a healthy dash of fashionista.” Additionally, tourists along the Mediterranean dress in casually fashionable outfits which adds to the packing conundrum. Conceivably, you could need three or four outfits each day — workout wear, pool wear, a touring ensemble, and fashionable attire for dinner. I packed 30 outfits in one checked bag. And, I wore almost all of them.
Pro Tip: There is laundry service and self-serve machines on-board many ships that offer extended cruises. It was extremely hot, so I needed to do laundry twice to freshen up some of our outfits.
There are items I pack for every trip regardless of whether it is a weekend getaway or a month-long journey.
On the top of the list, a great pair of walking shoes is crucial to keeping your feet happy. I like to have two pairs that I know will be comfy. White sneakers are a fashion must, I love LifeStride’s Accelerate Sneaker. They are washable, always look bright white, super light weight and don’t add too much to your suitcase, comfy and fashionable.
I also pack sandals that I can walk in all day and also wear for dinner. You want something sturdy, comfortable, and fashionable.
Fanny Packs are back from the ‘90s; their small size and ease of use are hard to beat. The gender-neutral carry-all keeps your wallet, phone, etc. safe and easily accessible.
Small leather backpacks were everywhere and made totting heavier necessities like cameras, water bottles, and purchases manageable.
Of course, you don’t want to wear both of them at the same time!
When packing cubes came out, I was skeptical. How can adding more fabric to your suitcase help you pack better. Now, I don’t even start packing until I have my cubes lined up.
When you roll up your clothes and zip (or cram) them into the cubes, you can easily increase your packing capacity. The cube keeps the rolled items nestled tightly together. Once you have your cubes packed, you can organize them in your luggage in the most efficient arrangement.
I have three sets of packing cubes. You can find them at any big box store. I need a set and a half to pack a large suitcase efficiently.
When you don’t want to fuss with a shoulder bag or backpack, a money belt is a great alternative. I use StashBandz Unisex Travel Money Belt.
The best place for your valuables is in your stateroom safe, however, when you need to carry your passport, credit cards, and cash, this belt offers peace of mind. It is slim fitting and sits under a loose shirt easily. Just remember to keep a card or some cash in your pocket so you don’t have to fish through the money belt just to enjoy a gelato.
A hat is a must and Fedora’s are the popular option along the Med. White, airy woven hats with a brim just wide enough to shade your nose are worn by men and women alike. You will find them in shops from Provence to the tip of Italy’s boot.
Pack a baseball cap if that’s your style or treat yourself to a fashionable fedora in your first port of call.
I am a dedicated Yeti fan, but their insulated water bottles are too heavy to carry on a long trip and too big for the economy seat back pocket on most airlines. For travel, I prefer an inexpensive insulated water bottle; If I lose it, I don’t want to feel bad. Fill it up at the ship’s water station every day and you will have cool sips while touring.
I don’t want to miss out on my daily vitamin intake, and let’s face it, most of us have a med or two we need to take daily. I like this 7-day case because it has three compartments for each day. I only need one compartment per day, so my 7-day case is actually a 21-day case. I fill each compartment with 1 day’s worth of vitamins — it’s perfect.
When I’m going away for a long weekend, I only need to slide 1 “day” sleeve into my case instead of a myriad of bottles.
Pro Tip: Pack your prescription medicine in your carry-on luggage. You definitely don’t want them to go missing.
On long-haul flights to my destination, I prefer to only bring one carry-on item. I can stash it in the overhead bid leaving room under the seat to stretch out my feet.
I do, however, pack an additional nylon duffle bag — carry-on size — in my checked luggage. On the return trip, I know there will be extra coming home and repacking never seems to be as successful as the initial effort.
Even on airplane mode, traveling can take a chunk of juice from your phone and tablet. Long flights where the outlets don’t work, extended touring days, and filming tons of videos can leave your battery drained.
I always pack two Fuel Rod chargers in my carry-on. They are a must have on every adventure. Recharging them overnight has them ready to go when I’m packing for my day. Many airports have a drop station where you can exchange your uncharged rod for one that is fully charged. Although I have never used one, it is a nice benefit that many other portable chargers don’t offer.
A lightweight rain jacket that can roll up into a small pouch is always welcome when it’s needed. I typically pack a disposable rain poncho when the weather looks iffy. They take up so little space, they are inexpensive, and they keep you fairly dry. Look for one with a hood for extra protection.
In the evening, a decorative pashmina can dress up an outfit with a simple wrap around the shoulders. It is perfect for guarding against the dining room air conditioning chill. You will also be happy to have it when you stroll around the deck watching the sun go down as you set sail for your next port of call.
Things You Can Leave At Home
I love travel guide books. I read them like classic novels. But with all the electronics we carry with us, you don’t need to lug a heavy book around.
Walking around a city is one of the best ways to explore. The GPS My City app, and others like it, offer all the information you need to navigate a new-to-you destination. There is a free version, and the paid version is fairly inexpensive — perfect for intrepid wanderers.
Just like with the guidebooks, leave the novels at home. I love picking up a book, turning the pages, and contemplating the words; however, you can easily live without a paper book for a few weeks. Download Kindle or Audible from Amazon and read or listen to books on your favorite device.
This one was a surprise to me. Most of the outlets in my room were compatible with US 110 volt plugs. There was only one EU 220 outlet where I could use my converter. Also, there were several USB ports to plug devices in directly.
Pro Tip: Pack at least one converter for your cruise, but you won’t need one for each of your electronics.
My L.L. Bean backpack goes everywhere with me. It carries my electronics and necessities I like to keep close at hand. It fits under the seat on the plane or in the overhead bin. It is my one, go-to carry-on piece. However, for touring, it is not all that convenient. It’s too big, and many museums and attractions require you to check them in a locker — an unnecessary bother.
Use your oversize backpack as luggage, but opt for a fanny pack or small backpack for touring.
Packing For Cruise Ships
Small-ship cruising is one of my favorite ways to travel. Packing for an extended cruise can seem overwhelming, but if you plan carefully and pack strategically, you will have everything you need to sit back, relax, and watch the world float past your veranda.
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