Packing for 4 days in Miami

I spent 4 deliciously sunny days in Miami this past week and here’s what I brought with me…

Left to Right, Top to Bottom (more or less)

  1. Two paperback books for reading on the beach, my journal, and notebook.
  2. Two lightweight scarves (an old pashmina that’s been to 4 continents with me and a beautiful printed scarf from India purchased at Sutra Imports) and a lightweight hat.
  3. Make-up & case: Mascara, eyeliner, eyelash curler, nail clipper, nail emery board, tweezers, hair ties, Burt’s Bees lip balm.
  4. Toiletries: Earrings, bracelet, comb, deodorant, razor, medications, toothbrush, face wash, shampoo, conditioner, hair cream, face cream, sunblock, toothpaste, hand cream, hand sanitizer.
  5. Compact tote bag. (It folds into itself very compactly and weighs almost nothing. It doesn’t have a brand name but I have similar Chico bags that I love as well.)
  6. Electronics: Cell phone charger and wall port, headphones, Kindle Fire, book light, & cell phone (not pictured because it was in my hand taking the photo.)
  7. Cross body purse (eBags brand)
  8. Prescription sunglasses in case
  9. Wallet/wristlet (from Target)
  10. Water bottle (Camelbak eddy)
  11. Packing cubes (eBags medium size)
  12. Black knee-length, spaghetti-strap dress in a t-shirt material (from Target clearance rack ages ago)
  13. Long blue patterned sundress (from thrift store)
  14. Eye mask
  15. Bra
  16. Cardigan sweater
  17. Black cami with built in bra & black lightweight shorts
  18. 5 pairs of underwear
  19. Bikini top and bottoms, tankini top and bottoms (Venus swimwear bra fit top – excellent for busty ladies, Lolita Girl swimwear for the rest)
  20. Black flip flops (Old Navy)
  21. Black walking sandals (Chaco ZX2)
  22. Beach towel that was a gift from my friend Amanda

(I did a little live stream of my packing on Facebook here.) I wore the black dress, bra & underwear, yellow cardigan, printed scarf, walking sandals, and light straw hat on the plane. I popped my phone, wallet, sunglasses, and Kindle into my green crossbody purse. Everything else went into my Osprey Tempest 20 backpack.

And here’s my Hindsight 20-20 assessment of how I’d pack if I were to do it all again…

  • The clothes: I only brought 2 sundresses plus my cami & shorts for sleeping. My thought was one to wear, one to wash. In a less humid climate than Miami (or if I sweat less) that may have been sufficient. However, my dresses took longer to dry than I’d like. After a day of wandering around (and sweating) I’d throw on my swim suit and go to the beach. After the ocean I’d take a shower and want to put on clean clothes… that meant either my previous day’s dress (which may not be dry) or my cami and shorts that I hadn’t really intended to wear out (though I did). In hindsight, I think I’d bring 3 dresses/outfits – and I did end up buying a third dress – so I could have one to wear, one to wash, and one to dry. I’m really glad that I brought a cami and shorts that I could wear out in public. I only wore my cardigan on the plane but it was definitely worth having.
  • The accessories: I am really glad I brought my hat as the Miami sun was intense. It’s a little beaten up now so maybe I’d look for a collapsible hat in the future but it was an inexpensive hat that I think looked cute so I’d probably bring it again. My scarves were perfect, yet again. My trusty blue scarf was my blanket on the plane there and back and was a curtain to my hostel bunk in between. I will never travel without it! My lighter printed scarf was perfect to throw on over my cami & shorts so I didn’t look like I’d just rolled out of bed, was a great swimsuit wrap, and provided just enough warmth on windy evenings where my cardigan would have been too much.
  • The bathing suits: I really could have done with just one. But it was a beach vacation and it was fun to be able to mix it up a little since I did go to the ocean every day. I love my Lolita Girl suits in part because they’re a thick material but that thick material does take awhile to dry.
  • The towel: I love that my friend got me this towel (and I love the towel) and I’m glad I brought it because it will have memories of Miami with it but if I were to do it again I’d leave it home. For one thing, it’s a nice thick towel which is great for drying off but not great for drying quickly and I was a little afraid to ruin it. Secondly, traditional towels hang on to sand like crazy. I borrowed the hostels towels and returned probably a cup of sand along with each one. Some of my hostel roommates had microfiber towels and light cotton sarongs that were much better on the sand.
  • The shoes: I did a TON of walking so I’m really glad I had my good walking shoes with me. I’m also really glad I had my flip flops for the beach and to toss on after kicking off my other sandals at the end of the day. Our hostel shower was very clean but if it hadn’t been, I’d have worn the flip flops in there as well.
  • The toiletries: I needed about half of the shampoo & conditioner I’d brought, even with having to wash sand and ocean out of my hair at least once a day. I’ll be looking for some smaller containers for future short trips. I only brought a little bit of sunblock with me and bought a big bottle in Miami. That worked out really well. I did have some left over but I left it at the hostel for others. If I were to go again for the same length of time (4 days) or longer I’d stick with that plan. If I were going for only 2 or 3 days though, I might just fill 3 oz travel bottle.
  • The electronics: Everything was just peachy until the very last evening of my trip when my cell phone died and refused to charge. I’m really glad I had my Kindle so I could pop on Facebook and message people to let them know I was ok even though I couldn’t reply to their texts. I could also use it to check my flight information. However, the Kindle is limited to WiFi and it’s alarm clock is terrible. So I made a late night run to Walgreen’s for the cheapest alarm clock they had ($15) so that I could sleep with confidence that I’d actually get up at 4:30 am to catch my early flight home. It’s a slippery slope to try to pack for every potential hiccup but I think when I travel alone in the future (and am staying at hostels without alarm clocks) I’ll bring along a tiny battery-operated alarm clock.
  • The books: I brought my Kindle but I also brought 2 paperbacks and I’m glad I did. They were perfect to read on the beach without fear of losing or harming an electronic device and when I finished I just left them behind in the hostel’s little take-a-book, leave-a-book library. That freed up a little space for the few souvenirs I brought home.
  • The bags: I LOVE my lightweight tote bag. It was perfect to bring to the beach. My crossbody purse was also perfect – just the right size – for wandering around Miami. I love my packing cubes and plan to get the smaller size as well for future trips. I always find them useful to sort out my things during my stays as well, separating clean from dirty clothes, tossing souvenirs into, etc. My Osprey backpack was also great. It was light, the frame on the back kept me from getting sweaty from it, and 20 liters was just right for packing size. This was my first trip with the Osprey but I foresee it becoming my go-to.

Overall I really didn’t feel deprived by only having 20 liters of space. I did buy a third dress but even if I hadn’t, I could have made do with the two. It was SO nice to be able to walk on to the plane and stuff my bag under the seat without any concern about overhead bin space and to then walk off the plane and not have to worry about going to baggage claim. Taking the bus from the airport was easy with such a small load as well. When I left the hostel on my final day and was walking down the sidewalk I actually had a moment of panic that I’d left my suitcase behind. Then I realized I didn’t HAVE a suitcase – that all of my belongings were lightly bouncing along on my back. That felt pretty good!

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