Even when you make a complete packing list, it’s inevitable that there will be last-minute add-ons that will keep your suitcase from actually zipping shut. And even though vacation clothing tends to be small (shorts and bathing suits take up a lot less space than sweaters and pants), the need for options ends up undoing any mental editing and outfit-planning that happened while daydreaming in that last pre-vacation board meeting.
So, whether you’re planning ahead for an upcoming trip or scrambling to get things together before you jet off tomorrow, we’ve broken down the spring traveling must-haves you simply cannot leave home without. The (major) key to packing smart and packing light is focusing on versatility; it’s what makes packing a breeze. Click through to see exactly what we mean.
A sleek, one-piece swimsuit works in the water and beyond. Wear it solo on the beach, and let it double as a bodysuit come evening when paired with skirts, shorts, or baggy jeans.
Zara, $49.9, available at Zara
Whether you’re using it as a cover-up, dressing it up with a skirt, or wearing it on a daytime excursion, you’ll be glad you packed a cheeky, yet simple, graphic tee that goes with any look and occasion.
Virginie Morgand for J.Crew, $32.5, available at J.Crew
A boater hat is a double-whammy: It protects your face from the sun and solves any bad-beach-hair woes.
Miu Miu, $395, available at SSENSE
Sunscreen: check. Magazines: check. Towel and clean clothes: check. A bag that holds all your needs is a must,
The Frankie Shop, $109, available at The Frankie Shop
With walking tours, outdoor activities, and shopping-filled afternoons on your agenda, your feet will definitely thank you for opting for a comfortable pair of kicks over pool slides.
Adidas Originals EQT Support Ultra PK, $180, available at KITH.
adidas, $75, available at Need Supply Co
A beachy dress you can also wear out on the town? Two-in-one situations are the key to making packing a breeze.
Mango, $89.99, available at Mango
It’s tempting to want to bring a handful of trendy sunglasses with you, but you’re better off banking on one that’s sure to go with everything.
Raen, $160, available at Raen
A low, thick-heeled sandal is the key to dressing up while still feeling casual.
Loeffler Randall, $350, available at Loeffler Randall
Since it’s not full-on spring just yet, chilly nights may be in store. An on-trend hoodie is ideal for hanging out.
TNA, $65, available at Aritzia
For those envy-inducing beach shots, you’ll need a towel that’s as Instagram-worthy as the scenery itself.
ban.do, $68, available at Shopbop
A loose, breathable pair of jeans works for plane travel just as well as it does for your mid-day excursion jaunts.
Sea NY, $295, available at Sea NY
Ditch your flip-flops completely (if you dare!) in exchange for a more modern option, like these platform espadrilles.
Stella McCartney, $495, available at MatchesFashion.com
You probably don’t want to lug your massive beach bag when it’s not necessary. That’s where a crossbody comes in: It’s hands-free, but still a good enough size to fit all the essentials.
Faithfull the Brand, $119, available at Faithfull the Brand
A scarf doubles as a cute and functional accessory that can be worn in so many ways: Wrap it around your neck to finish off your shorts-and-a tank outfit, wear it as a headband, or tie it on the strap of your bag for an additional pop of color.
Donni, $149, available at Donni
A flattering wrap skirt doubles as a sarong — throw it in your beach bag to wear for those middle-of-the-day errands.
Miu Miu, $895, available at Net-A-Porter
Keep your phone safe and sound in your bag with a water-resistant watch that matches the sea-and-sand color palette.
The Horse, $189, available at The Horse
Leave your expensive jewelry at home and just pack a cute set of earrings that you can keep on from day to night without worrying if they got lost in the middle of the ocean.
BaubleBar, $36, available at BaubleBar
Let vacation serve as an excuse to ditch the boxer shorts/college T-shirt pairing for some fancy, matching pajamas. And by fancy, we don’t necessarily mean super-silky and super-expensive — something that even so slightly coordinates will do the trick.
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