puerto rico packing list

A Comprehensive Packing List for Puerto Rico

And Other Urban/Adventure Trips

Generic packing lists go a long way for many trips. And to be honest, I don’t often use a list at all. (Practice makes pretty good.) But I created a packing list for Puerto Rico because this trip would span both sightseeing in the city and fun in the sun. 

We had read that dressing nicely for dinner in Old San Juan is common, so I wanted to bring some sundresses plus shoes to match. We were going to be kayaking in a boggy preserve, so I needed gear for the outdoors. And we hope to do a lot of walking around and sightseeing, as well as some light hiking and hanging out on the beach. So many types of shoes!

I developed an initial packing list for Puerto Rico, and I’ve since updated it with the hits and misses along the way. (I don’t usually forget pajamas, but I think that making a list made me flustered!) If you have additions, hit us up at hello@journeyhere.travel.

Packing for Beach and Sun

The INKEY List Polyglutamic Acid Dewy Sunscreen. The internet was all abuzz about this, and it’s true — it didn’t leave me looking chalky. I used this when I wasn’t getting in the water. 

Reef Safe Sunscreen SPF 50 All Natural, Water Resistant, Biodegradable, Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB Ocean Friendly Mineral Sunblock. Any packing list for Puerto Rico should include reef-safe sunscreen. I used this when I was getting into the ocean.

Aquaphor Lip Repair + Protect Lip Balm Sunscreen UVA/UVB SPF30. I’ve had blistering sunburns on my lips, and several precancerous spots removed. (Be sure to check out my 8 Surprising Sun-Smart Tips for Outdoor Travel.)

It’s a 10 Leave-In Conditioner. Spray this on before you get in the water; it will help keep salt and chlorine from penetrating the hair shaft as fast.

Big Sexy Hair Weather Proof Finishing Spray. Spray this on when you’re heading out into humidity or damp conditions. It helps prevent moisture from penetrating the hair shaft as fast and lessens frizz.

Roxy Rash Guard. Even if you’re not surfing, it’s nice to have something that protects your shoulders from the sun but dries fast after getting in the water.

Athleta Swim Shorts. I didn’t want to walk around in my bathing suit bottoms during our bio bay tours, nor did I want to wear cotton or denim that would get soggy. These were perfect for sitting in a kayak that had some water sloshing around in the bottom. I just pulled them on over my bathing suit. I sometimes wear these swim shorts paddleboarding too.

One-Piece Bathing Suit. I was going to be scuba diving, so I needed a suit that would work under a wetsuit.


Beach Towel. I was glad to have this to sit on when we stopped at a random beach midday.


Water Shoes. These are great not only for rocky or slimy bottoms in the water, but also for hot sand on the beach. 

2 Baseball Caps. I can hide my frizzy hair and protect my skin.

Joto Waterproof Phone Pouch. I dropped my phone into the ocean in Hawaii. It was a disaster. So while I keep one of these in Michigan where I paddleboard and kayak a lot, I bought another for travel. I need to be more diligent about using it.

AiRunTech Waterproof Pouch with Waist Strap. This is basically a fanny pack for the beach. It was on my packing list for Puerto Rico, but I didn’t keep it handy when we were out and about, so I found myself without it when I wanted it.

My packing list for puerto rico included diving gear.
Hence the need for a full-sized suitcase

For Diving

My packing list for Puerto Rico included gear to snorkel as I had the opportunity, as well as to scuba dive. It was my first dive since getting certified in the cold, dark waters of a bay off of Lake Michigan.

Snorkel Fins


Diving Goggles

Baby Shampoo. I put this in a smaller liquids bottle. A few drops on each lens and a quick rinse in the water before you put on your goggles helps keep them from fogging.


Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Pure-Castile Liquid Soap Made with Organic Oils, 18-in-1 Uses: Face, Body, Hair, Laundry, Pets and Dishes, Concentrated, Vegan, Non-GMO. I had a sample of this and threw it in; I was glad, because several stays didn’t provide shampoo. I haven’t tried it for other purposes yet.


Safety Razor Clip-On Cover Anti-Rust Blade Razor Protector Travel Size. These protect your razor blade from bacteria in hotel/Airbnb/shared showers.

Sephora Hemp Oil. I’ve used this on my hair to smooth flyaways, and on my skin when the place where I’m staying doesn’t provide lotion. 

Secret Outlast Travel Size. I can’t use plain deodorant. I can’t even use regular antiperspirant. I sweat when it’s cold, when the temperature changes…thank you, hyperhidrosis. (My nervous system just doesn’t respond correctly. Raynaud’s, chilblains, fibromyalgia — I enjoy them all!) It was a relief to ditch the burning prescription antiperspirant when Secret released its clinical formula. So my packing list for Puerto Rico, where it would be plenty warm, included this.

BioTrue Contact Solution Travel Size

A Spare Contact. I only wear one for distance in one eye. If you wear two, bring two. 

Contact Case

A Roller Ball of Scented Oil. It’s easier to travel with than perfume. 

Spinster Sisters Facial Cleanser Bar and Serum Bar. Depending on the length of my trip, I bring an assortment of Spinster Sisters bar products.

Rael Organic Panty Liners

A Toothbrush

Toothbrush Tablets



Clinique Pore Refining Solutions. This spot treatment transforms the appearance of the skin on my nose. 

It Bye-Bye Under Eye Full Coverage Anti-Aging Waterproof Concealer. And this spot treatment transforms the appearance of the skin under my eyes.


Lash Primer

Waterproof Mascara

Eyelash Curler

Pressed Powder

I usually pack eye shadow, but I forgot it this time. I used blush instead.


Hair Ties. I brought the kind to tie up my hair at night or when I’m washing my face, and the kind to tie up my hair during the day.

Round Brush

Flat Brush

CHI Rocket Hair Dryer. Hotel hair dryers often have a short nozzle, which means my long-ish hair gets sucked up into the dryer, breaks and burns. 

Spinster Sisters Conditioner Bar. I can use many things for shampoo (soap, for example), and hotel mini-bottles are usually adequate. But I always need a better, heavier conditioner for my fragile gray hair. 

Shower Cap

My packing list for puerto rico included hair care for humid days.
So helpful in humid conditions

Staying Clean and Healthy

Lysol To Go Disinfectant Spray. Great for shower curtains and other surfaces that are hard to disinfect with wipes.

Lysol Disinfecting Wipes. Typically I use these all over a room right after entering and kicking off my shoes. I hit the doorknobs, light switches, handles, flat surfaces, lamp chains, curtain pulls and everything in the bathroom. I didn’t do that as often on this trip because we moved around every day or two, but I prefer to do so to avoid getting sick on a trip.

Extra Hand Sanitizer. I go through it pretty fast when I travel. I use soap and water at a sink whenever possible, since that’s so much more effective at killing germs. But when I’m out and about, I keep a bottle handy at all times. 

AccuMed BNX N95 Black Masks. I still wear one on the plane and in the airport. People are stressed from travel, off of their routines and encountering a worldly swirling mix of viruses.

Modenna Disposable Face Mask Black. I wear these lighter face masks as the situation demands. 

Antiseptic Wipes. I had them in my suitcase, but I should have had them in my walking-around bag, because I scraped my knee on some rocks while snorkeling.

Repel 15 percent DEET Mosquito Repellant. Fortunately, I didn’t need this when we were out walking about. You have to be careful with DEET: You can’t use it and get into the water or you might contaminate a sensitive natural area, and you have to limit its use for your own health. But in some places, the diseases that mosquitos carry are riskier than DEET. Heather brought some Badger Organic Deet Free Mosquito Repellent Spray to use on our bio tours and the guides had spray as well. 

Emergen-C. I add this to my water most days at home, too — it makes taking my vitamins and supplements a little better. But I’m diligent when I travel; getting sick is no bueno, especially during a trip. 

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptide To-Go. Not entirely necessary, but I had them. 

Dish Soap. I wash out my water bottle every day, inside and out, to cut down on the germ load. 

For Extra Comfort

Holmes Mini High-Velocity Personal Fan (HNF0410A-BM). It creates a bit of white noise and a nice breeze yet packs really small. 

Women’s dluxe by dearfoams Kaila Scuff Slippers (from Target). The floors in hotels and Airbnbs can be pretty disgusting. 

Duerer Fingerless Compression Arthritis Gloves. I have fibromyalgia, so I take a spare pair to wear when I have trouble sleeping.

OLLY Sleep Gummy, Occasional Sleep Support, 3 mg Melatonin, L-Theanine, Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Sleep Aid, Blackberry. I have so much trouble sleeping, even at home!

Purity Calm Decaf Coffee Sachets. It’s often hard to get decaf coffee, especially when you travel. These are like oversized tea bags; if you can microwave or boil some water, you’re set.


Journey Here Packable Hooded Rain Jacket. It came in handy on the very first morning when we were caught in a short-lived downpour.

Two Sundresses

4 Casual Tank Tops 

3 Dressy Tanks 

2 Pairs of Jeans 

5 Bralettes 

2 Sports Bras 

8 Pairs of Underwear 

5 Pairs of Socks

3 Yoga Pants 

4 Pairs of Shorts 

1 Pair of Black Leggings 

I wore almost everything. It was a full week, with multiple activities on the same days, and we got pretty grubby most days. I usually pack pajamas. Somehow I carried 48 pounds’ worth of stuff in my suitcase and forgot pajamas. There was a Marshall’s in Old San Juan where I bought two pairs. 

Going-Home Outfit

I like to pack this in a separate cube; it’s nice to have something clean and fresh to wear.

Black Tee


Sports Bra


Stretch Cargo Pants


Downy Travel-Sized Wrinkle Release Spray. Helps smooth clothes that get smooshed in your bag.

Dirty Laundry Bag. I have a cloth bag for dirty clothes. It’s a large, horrifying lump by the end of the trip. (See my tips for dealing with the ick when you get home.)

Grove Laundry Sheets. We also bought some laundry pods in Old San Juan to use in the washing machine in our Airbnb.


An Apple AirTag. The Points Guy has a few extra pointers for using AirTags to track your checked bags.


Paper stuff

Magazines. I can recycle them when I finish reading them versus bringing home a book. (Don’t ask me about the years-old collection of magazines that I swear I’m going to read entirely someday.)

The brochure listing the travel benefits of my credit card. It feels easier to look up things there than find them via an online search or a call.

A manila folder with printouts of my Allianz travel insurance policy, all accommodations, tours, tickets and other reservations. These are also scanned into the cloud via the Notes app on my iPhone.

Extra Outfit

I always carry an extra set of clothes to tide me over just in case my suitcase goes missing. My credit card offers lost-baggage coverage, but I also like to have a fresh outfit so that it’s not urgent to find a store.




I added some travel snacks to my packing list for puerto rico i

Travel Snacks

Pearls Olives to Go

Woodstock Organic Raw Almonds


Clif Builders Protein Bar

Turkey Sandwich

Organic Mini Carrots


My MacBook Air and Charger

Apple Watch Charger. Haptics for directions on my phone are so helpful.

Apple AirPods (and Regular Earbuds)

iPhone and Charger

Battery Pack and Charger

PortaPow USB Data Blocker


Driver’s License. No passport needed in my packing list for Puerto Rico!

Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card and Chase Mileage Plus Credit Card


Health Insurance Card

AAA Card

National Parks Pass. The castillos in Old San Juan are part of the National Parks System, so that was a helpful and unique addition to my packing list for Puerto Rico.


Wet Wipes. For my hands when they’re just sticky, not germy. 

Hand Sanitizer

An N95 Mask

Two Days’ Worth of Medications

Pack-Flat Water-Resistant Satchel (to use as a purse)

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