Packing for a Hot, Humid Destination

I’ve just returned from three weeks at the equator, and let me tell you, there were things I wish I’d packed differently! Packing for a hot, humid destination is a little different, and I didn’t do enough research, so I’m here to help you!

My trip was a mix of city activities in Quito, Ecuador, and two weeks in the Galapagos Islands. I walked up and down steep hills in Quito and spent multiple boat days snorkeling and hiking up volcanos in the Galapagos. No matter how active you are going to be, packing for a hot, humid destination is important to stay cool and keep the intense sun off of your skin. 

If you can pack for one week, you can pack for three months. By that, I mean I pack enough clothes for a week and plan doing laundry in the sink with detergent sheets or use a laundromat or laundry service. On this trip, I used a mix of both. 

The key to packing for a hot, humid destination is packing light and packing the right fabrics.

Whether you’re checking a bag or are a carry-on-only diehard, I guarantee that having a heavy bag in these destinations is pretty miserable. Pack your bag, then imagine lugging everything up and down multiple flights of stairs and, on this trip, boat ramps — there was not an elevator to be found in any of my accommodations — and boarding a dinghy in the Galapagos with a heavy backpack is an exercise in balance and grace!  I was cursing my overpacking tendencies. Let’s get into it!


Wool has many benefits when packing for a hot, humid destination. You might think “itchy” when you think about wool, specifically wool undies and bras, but the moisture-wicking, odor-repelling fabric is the perfect layer. It also dries quickly when doing sink laundry!

I love cotton tees, but they do not hold their shape and retain odors in humid weather. I ordered three Merino wool shirts when I got home from this trip. 

I ordered from The Woolly Clothing Co. and will report back. Smartwool has some good programs (advocacy partners, carbon capture plans, plant-based dyes and a recycling project), and Woolx has some really cute dresses! 


Wool is also the perfect fabric for your bras and undies. On this trip, I had a mix of cotton and wool underwear, and I far preferred the wool. I don’t own a wool bra, but one of the other women on my trip raved about hers, so I’ll keep an eye out for sales, as they can be pricy.

Whenever I shower, I wash my undies at the same time and then hang them to dry. I usually only pack four to six pairs, no matter how long my trip is, and rotate through them. On this trip, I was showering two to three times a day because of the heat, and even with only six pairs of panties packed, I always had a clean, dry pair. 


Linen: I like a nice linen pant for dinner with a nicer top after I have spent the day hiking or in the water. It feels good to get cleaned up and wear something with a little polish. While linen does wrinkle, in a hot and humid destination, those wrinkles settle down pretty quickly, and you get a nice, comfortable look. You can also take a small bottle of Wrinkle Release with you! 

Polyester/Nylon Blend: Most of the tactical “quick-dry” hiking pants and shorts come in a blend of these two materials. I wore shorts on my hiking adventures that also worked for my water activities. I would recommend one to two pairs of shorts that you can wear for different activities. A basic pair of “bike” shorts with pockets is very handy and great for various activities. I also love the Baleaf brand and wear them all the time at home.

I also packed a pair of jean shorts, which I was glad to have as I like the structure and look of denim. 


Rayon dresses are the perfect item to pack! Two to three rayon dresses or jumpsuits pack up quite small, giving you something nicer to wear to lunch or dinner when you aren’t adventuring. They are lightweight, and I was envious of all the cute dresses my tour friends had packed on my Galapagos tour!

Long sleeves

I wore long sleeves on several hikes to help protect my arms from the intense sun at the equator. When sweating that much, sunscreen alone just doesn’t cut it. I took a zip-up rash guard that I wore in the water while snorkeling and on several of my hikes. I also have a long-sleeved, lightweight denim button-up that is so soft and cozy.  I wear it as a sun cover-up and also as a light layer for breezy dinners. It features predominantly in most of my Puerto Rico photos!


Trekking sandals, slip-on sandals and a pair of closed-toe water shoes will cover all your bases. I really loved these Birkenstock knock-offs. I took an older pair of Merrell sandals, and while they were great for hiking, they weren’t the most comfortable, and they held odors terribly. I’ll be looking for a new trekking sandal before my next trip. The Chaco Z-Cloud has great reviews! I bought these water shoes before my trip to Puerto Rico with Julianne, and they were great for navigating the lava rocks in the Galapagos. I even ended up wearing them home with socks since I was going from the hot, humid equator to frozen Chicago winter.


I threw in this hat at the last minute; it’s the hat my son wears as a public gardener. I had a cute hat packed and swapped them out, and I’m so glad I did. This hat kept me from getting fried every single day. Is it fashionable? Well, that’s up to you, but I didn’t care! The chin strap was especially appreciated as we zipped from island to island on speedboats through the Galapagos! While not an accessory, sunblock should be, and practicing good sun habits is important for your long-term health. Don’t forget to pack a reef-safe sunblock if you are going to be playing in the ocean!


I packed four, but I only wore two. I should have packed a few that were more practical for snorkeling and boating. Historically, most of my water activities have been lying around reading a book or floating in a pool. I have started looking into bathing suites designed for actual water activities. As mentioned above, I wore athletic-style swim shorts, but I didn’t love any that I took. Check out this packing list from our trip to Puerto Rico for more warm-weather clothing ideas and looks.


I packed too many, thinking I’d wear my gym shoes more. I did not. I like having a few pairs of socks to wear around my hotel room, but I could have packed two pairs and been fine.


A pair of polarized sunglasses will reduce eye strain in bright environments, especially when out on the water (or skiing in the winter!). I bought a buff on this trip, and it was so versatile. It protected my ears and neck when out in the sun and kept my hair out of my face when it was windy.

In addition to clothes, here are a few other helpful items to pack for a hot, humid destination:

Fan: I loved this fan! It’s the size of my Kindle Paperwhite. I charged it during the day and could run it on high all night without losing charge. This was so handy when the outlets were nowhere near my bed and it was stuffy, even in rooms where the AC worked well.

Body Glide: Just trust me on this. I ended up taking an accidental 4.5-hour, six-mile hike up and down a volcano, and it got a bit chafey. 

Antiperspirant: I love my LUME deodorant and used it liberally on this trip, especially on my feet because of my stinky sandals! However, I ended up buying a 48-hour antiperspirant at a small store on San Cristobal Island. I just wanted one part of my body to stop sweating!

At the end of the day, when you are packing for a hot, humid destination, comfort and sun protection are your two key priorities, and packing the right fabrics will make a huge difference in your comfort. 

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