Trip Planning - 14 min read

What to Pack for a Florida Trip (Prepare Efficiently!)

Nancy Schaefer

Nancy Schaefer, Updated October 10, 2022

Almost every person on the planet loves a great vacation, and there is no better place to visit than Florida. With its endless beaches, beautiful views, and warm sunshine, it’s a perfect place to get away for a while!

The basics to pack for a Florida trip include clothing, cash, sunscreen, toiletries, first aid kit and health/medicine list. These bare minimum items will keep you comfortable and safe so you can gather the rest along your journey. Most people can forgo many things when traveling, purchasing items as they go. Doing so, saves space in your suitcase, while allowing you to travel light.

Florida is home to a vast number of activities that go beyond the beach and water, including Disney World and Sea World. Historic towns like St. Augustine and culturally diverse cities like Miami make this great state unforgettable!

No matter where your Florida adventure lands you, packing right can make all the difference in how great your trip turns out. There are essentials that no one forgets, like credit or debit cards and a phone charger, but there are numerous other things you shouldn’t leave behind.

Whether you pack light or heavy for an extended visit, some things should never be forgotten when traveling. The items that make life easier, save money, and add fun to any journey should always be considered travel essentials.

1. Vehicle Roadside Emergency Kit

Credit: Kim Siever / Flickr

One of the most essential items to have in your vehicle when traveling anywhere, a roadside emergency kit takes some of the stress out of life. Kits are easy to purchase online, but you can assemble one if you’re knowledgeable.

Essentials like jumper cables and extra oil or antifreeze are good items to pack. Even the newest car with all its technology can run into problems.

While roadside assistance is a great tool, not everyone can afford it. Not to mention that certain areas of the United States still lack adequate cell phone service.

2. SunPass

Credit: Monroe County BOCC / Flickr

This item is a game changer for traveling around Florida. This pass allows travelers to ride the toll roads in Florida more efficiently and can make getting to and from your destination easier. This causes less stress as everyone fumbles with their wallets or purses to locate the necessary money.

The pass also works at airports and other areas around Florida, making it a convenient item for quick parking. The pass also works in multiple states throughout the East, from Florida to Maine and further West.

Related Read: 30 BEST Restaurants Jacksonville, FL

3. Maps

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Paper maps may seem like a thing of the past but should something go wrong with modern technology, they are handling to have in the vehicle. Phones die, break, or get lost, and cell reception in certain areas can be spotty.

Having a paper map as a backup plan for those times minimizes stress and ensures your vacation isn’t delayed. It can also be fun to scope out other areas of Florida to explore and easily see the surrounding areas.

4. First Aid Kit

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This goes without saying, but injuries and illness happen. Just because it’s a vacation doesn’t mean little incidents won’t crop up. These things can delay an exciting vacation and turn it into misery.

Carrying a first aid kit in the car and even a small one in your purse or luggage prevents minor issues from becoming big problems.

First aid kits are easy to make, and many of us have a few at home, but they can also be purchased online. Kits range in pricing and size based on what’s inside. This essential item can also be a good place to store vital medication travelers need to carry.

Related Read: 15 BEST Florida Beach Resorts For Families

5. Backpack or Day Bag

Credit: Dennis Sylvester Hurd / Flickr

Whatever your style, packing a bag or packing for your daily use during your Florida trip is essential. This pack or bag provides a place for all the important stuff like your phone, water bottle, and wallet with a credit card.

It’s also a convenient way to carry a few snacks, a toy or two if you have kids, and anything else you might need from one day to the next. What’s inside might change daily, but it can keep you stress-free.

The pack or bag should be large enough to carry what you need in the day but not so bulky it’s annoyingly heavy. Pack smart, taking only the essentials and making sure it’s made of durable but comfortable material.

6. Bug Spray

Credit: Everglades National Park / Flickr

Bugs are everywhere, and Florida has an abundance of bugs that will appear in different regions based on season and climate. If you’re particularly troubled by the sight of a bug, doing some research before the trip can be helpful.

Carrying different kinds of bug spray will come in handy for different situations, for instance, on the beach, in the Everglades, or poolside. Keeping a bottle inside your bag or pocket is convenient.

7. Waterproof Phone Case

Credit: D-15 Photography / Flickr

Since our phones are practically a part of our physical anatomy these days, protecting them is important. Florida has beaches and other bodies of water like pools which means possible damage to your phone.

A waterproof case or other waterproof protection for your phone ensures it isn’t accidentally damaged. The last thing anyone wants to deal with while on vacation other than a trip to the ER is a waterlogged phone. Pack right by having something that ensures it’s waterproofed.

Related Read: 20 BEST Airboat Tours in the Everglades

8. Portable Charger

Credit: Dennis Sylvester Hurd / Flickr

These days our phones are a part of who we are as individuals. While we might have a charger in a vehicle and a few at home, having a portable charger is handy. Portable chargers allow for uninterrupted vacation bliss if used properly.

When charged before heading out anywhere, they can allow a traveler to charge whatever device they need. If they are hanging at the beach all day, scoping out the sights in the Everglades, or on a boat, technology is always ready when they are ready to connect.

9. Raingear

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Whether your preference is a raincoat versus an umbrella, having raingear packed for Florida is important. Let’s face it, storms happen, and in Florida, tropical storms can be common depending on the season you travel.

Having rain gear for everyone in your travel party is essential for their comfort. It also saves time, money, and energy when a sudden storm or other situation arises.

Related Read: Best Time To Visit Orlando

10. Reusable Water Bottle

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With the hot sunshine beating down on you, water will always be a must. Sporting a reusable bottle is good for the earth and more economical for you during your Florida trip. Packing the bottle is easy; if empty, you can store it with your clothing.

It’s probably best to have it handy during your trip unless you’re on an airplane, in which case they’ve got that covered. In the vehicle, having it beside you keeps you hydrated as you travel across the sunshine state under all that sunshine.

11. Sandals/Sneakers/Water Shoes

Credit: Mike Linksvayer / Flickr

You should always pack a few pairs of shoes when going on vacation. Florida is all about warm weather, water fun, and outdoor adventures. Having a few options isn’t about fashion; it’s about comfort. Water shoes come in handy for different water adventures, such as taking a dip in the ocean.

Sandals are a nice option for an evening out to dinner, while sneakers have more durability for all that walking you’ll be doing at a theme park. If you’re traveling light, skip the sandals and pack the sneakers and water shoes.

12. Sunglasses

Credit: Mike Linksvayer / Flickr

Everyone has at least one pair of sunglasses in their vehicle or on their person but making sure you pack a pair when traveling to the Sunshine State is essential.

When visiting Florida, you’ll spend a good amount of time outdoors in the sunshine, and good quality sunglasses protect the eyes. Make sure your sunglasses offer all the UV protection.

Whatever you choose, the focus should be on functionality first and fashion second. If there’s room in your travel gear for more than one pair, all the better.

13. Cash on Hand

Credit: Jonathan Cutrer / Flickr

Packing for a Florida trip should always include packing some cash to have on hand for emergencies. While paper money might seem virtually obsolete in our modern world, carrying some is still a good idea.

Cash ensure that everything goes smooth if your card or phone stops working. It can prevent delays in the fun and ensure your trip is stress-free and easy. It can also be a good idea to store folding money in a few places like your purse and the case behind your phone.

14. Head Gear

Credit: Coach 0001 / Flickr

Whatever your adventure when visiting Florida, having a hat, visor or durag, if that’s your thing, will add protection. Packing the right headgear can shield your eyes, head, and face from the hot sun if you spend a lot of time outdoors.

When you spend lots of time outdoors in the sunshine, it’s imperative to have the proper gear to protect your body. Whatever you choose should be durable, lightweight, and easily packable in your luggage. Fashion is great, but functionality should be the focus.

15. Clothing

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Well, this one’s a no-brainer, but packing diverse clothing choices for Florida is a good idea. Packing a sweatshirt, some shorts and tops, a pair of pants, and maybe a nice dressier outfit is a good idea. Having multiple options available ensures you can dress for every occasion.

The focus should be on lightweight items that are versatile and easy care. The Florida sun can be hot and brutal during the day, and at night can be equally hot, but weather patterns change. Having comfortable clothing that breaths is also necessary for hot Florida.

Don’t forget the beach attire, as it’s almost guaranteed you’ll spend at least one day at the beach. It’s always best to pack light for convenience and comfort. A laundromat or cleaner is always close by to get the job done.

16. Toiletries Bag

Credit: Pascal / Flickr

Packing a separate bag that holds your hygiene essentials is a smart idea. Containers open, bottles break, and whatever you need to carry in the form of personal care products should be in a separate bag from your other luggage.

Should anything happen, keeping these items separated ensures that your other items like clothing and iPad don’t accidentally get damaged. If your travel party is large, a suitcase can be used for everyone’s items, each packed in individual bags.

17. Health/Medications List

Credit: Lia / Flickr

For those with medical conditions of any severity, it’s always a good idea to have a list in the day bag or backpack in case of emergencies. If you have a small first aid kit in that bag or pack, you can keep it there for convenience.

Health problems creep up when we least expect them, and a Florida trip probably won’t be the exception to that rule. Keeping a list of all traveler’s health issues, medications and allergies is a good idea.

The list should include doctor names and phone numbers, copies of insurance cards, and pharmacy information. A printed document with all vital information goes a long way to resolving minor issues and saving lives.

In an emergency situation, it’s a great go-to reference for stress-free care. This is especially helpful if cell phones are down or you’re in an area without cell phone service during the situation.

18. Sunscreen and Lip Balm

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If you’re packing for a beach trip or not, sunscreen and protective lip balm will still be necessary during your Florida trip. The sun is hot, and skin or lips can easily get burned or damaged from its rays. While many people visit the Sunshine State for the sun, letting it damage your body is not a good idea.

It’s a good idea to carry various sunscreen with different protection levels for the travelers in the party. Babies will need more sun protection than adults, and there’s even sunscreen for your furry one if he/she will be traveling too.

19. Hand Sanitizer and Cleaning Wipes

Credit: Chiara Coetzee / Flickr

Post-pandemic, these items might be the first thing everyone wants to ditch, but it’s still a good idea to pack them for your Florida trip. Dirt, germs, and filth are everywhere, and rather than spoil a perfectly good trip with sickness, it’s best to continue using them.

Sanitizers and wipes have many uses on planes, in vehicles, at the beach, and after a trip inside a museum. They offer the convenience of cleanup when needed without having to locate a sink or stop the fun. Trial size packs are a good choice for packing in suitcases, back packs and purses during travel.

20. Beach Towels or Blankets

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No trip to Florida is complete without a trip to the beach. Almost everyone that spends any time in Florida will sit on a sandy beach at some point unless they only visit Disney and Sea World Only. A few beach towels and a large beach blanket are recommended if you’re not using chairs.

All that sand gets everywhere, and having a comfortable spot to sit or lay during your visit to the beach is important for relaxation. Having a cozy towel to wrap around yourself after a refreshing dip in the water that’s not sandy is even better.

When choosing a towel or blanket, should focus on size and fabric. The bigger, the better in this case, and when it comes to fabric, it should be good quality and durable. Carrying these items in your luggage saves money and time in locating them in Florida when you arrive.

21. A Cooler

Credit: U.S. Army Cadet Command / Flickr

A trip to the beach has to include snacks and drinks for hydration. The beach and ocean play can be exhausting and dehydrating, so having something to refuel nearby is a good idea. Of course, there are places to grab a quick drink or snack, but they’re often not as handy and tend to be more expensive.

Make sure to bring plastic bags to carry out your trash or use provided receptacles. Follow individual beach rules about what is allowed on the beach and not, and be responsible for the enjoyment of others. A good choice would be a collapsible cooler to save space during packing.

22. Entertainment Items

Credit: Laura Stoinski / Flickr

Packing a few fun things for a Florida beach trip makes it more exciting. Depending on if space allows or another piece of luggage is needed, carrying a few balls, a frisbee, sand toys, or whatever works is a good idea.

Purchasing these items in Florida is possible but also more expensive and time-consuming. Things like books or a tablet for reading are easily packed between clothing for protection and convenience. All the better if these items are in a separate piece of luggage. It can be left in the vehicle when not needed.

Conclusion

It will be time to return home from Florida when the trip is over. However you traveled, it is always a good idea to carry a separate suitcase, and hopefully, you started the journey traveling light.

The extra suitcase is great for all those souvenirs and new items you collected on your trip. Having a separate suitcase or bag for them makes it easy to pack everything up for the return trip. Plus, you know where they are located, all in one place.

Packing for a trip to Florida or anywhere doesn’t have to be time-consuming or difficult. Focusing on the essentials and packing things smartly will make it an effortless way to prepare for your trip!

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