Okay ladies, the month of March is upon us, which only means one thing: Spring is on the way. Or, more importantly, Spring break is on the way.
We know, we know: Not everyone’s lucky enough to still be in college and receive a no-questions-asked blissful week off in March or early April that lends itself to the classic stereotype of beach, booze, and boys. However, we also know that you don’t have to be a college coed to plan a jaunt someplace warm—late winter is actually one of the most popular times of the year for folks to get out of dodge and on a beach.
That said, the whole point of taking a spring break is to enjoy a whole week free from the stresses of work or school, and planning what to bring on your upcoming getaway should be equally as stress-free. That’s why we’ve curated a definitive guide that takes the guesswork out of packing for a warm-weather week away.
Here, you’ll find the only 25 essentials you need. (Sound like a lot? We’ve included everything from a pair of shades to an everyday beach bag, so you’d be surprised how fast 25 items adds up.) To keep track of it all, we’ve included a handy checklist for you to print out as you’re starting to pack.
And—since we know that a week away doesn’t come cheap, even if you’re staying in a beachside shanty—every essential in our guide clocks in at $100 or less, just in case you’re looking to pick up a few new things!
So go ahead and start gathering what you have and shopping for what you need—we guarantee that when it comes time to pack, you’ll be done and ready to go in no time (and, likely, in one bag.) Bon voyage!
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Print out this handy packing list as you're shopping and planning for your spring getaway! And read on to see the only 25 items you need!
1. Cool Inexpensive Shades
Why: On beach vacations, we're fans of a throw-around pair of plastic or resin shades. Between the sand, the ocean, the sunscreen, and the potential for loss, why risk it with your super-pricey designer sunglasses?
Jeepers Peepers Winston Tortoise Shell Wayfarers, $30.52; at ASOS
2. Fun Printed Two-Piece
Why: When it comes to swimsuits, a classic string bikini is easy to wear and easy to pack. Choose a cool print to keep it modern.
DVF Loves Roxy Tiki Tri Bikini Top, $46, bottoms, $44; at Roxy
3. Black Bandeau Bikini
Why: A bandeau top is slightly retro and always chic, and the removable strap ensures you'll forego tan lines. Pair it up with an equally stylish high-waist bottom for a cohesive look, or mix and match the pieces with the printed bikini you already packed.
Solid Bandeau Bikini, $64; at Spiegel
4. Chic One-Piece Bathing Suit
Why: For the inevitable day you'd rather lounge under an umbrella with a big hat, a frozen mojito, and a magazine than bake in the sun.
Plunge Backless Suit, $59.35; at ASOS
5. A Classic White Panama Hat
Why: There's something that just screams "vacation!" about a classic white panama hat. Plus, it's stylish enough to wear beyond the beach—from lunch in town, to out at night.
Panama Hat, $58; at J. Crew
6. An Easy-To-Carry Beach Bag
Why: Everyone needs a bag to take to the beach or pool—but not one that's enormous and cumbersome. Unless you're headed to the beach with a family of four, all you really need is a sack roomy enough to tote the day's essentials.
Billabong Take Me There Beach Bag, $36; at 6pm
7. A Broken-In Denim Shirt
Why: For us, the perfect denim shirt is a vacation staple. Roll the sleeves up and wear it open over your bathing suit, tie it over a maxi dress, tuck it into shorts, tote it along at night at in case you get chilly ... the list goes on.
Classic Chambray Shirt, $68; at J. Crew Factory
8. Printed Maxi Skirt
Why: An easy-breezy long skirt is pretty much a no-brainer when it comes to vacation style. Pair it with basic flat sandals and a white tee, a pair of wedges and a black tank top, or your denim shirt tied at the waist.
BB Dakota Calista Skirt, $84; at Voguette
9. Flat Sandals
Why: We're partial to a delicate pair of flat sandals that can be worn day or night, with anything from denim cutoffs and skirts to white jeans (keep reading for those!). PS: These textured sandals also come sunny yellow, coral, neutral taupe, and stripes.
Tommy Hilfiger Laila Flat Sandals, $65; at Macy's
10. The Perfect White T-Shirt
Why: It sounds cliché, but a well-fitting white T-shirt is a definitive wardrobe staple, even on vacation. Wear it out at night with white jeans or your maxi skirt, tuck it into your denim cutoffs and add a colorful necklace and wedges, or wear it with a pair of silky loose pants for effortless island style.
Zoe Karssen Jersey T-Shirt, $45; at The Outnet
11. Black Cotton Tank
Why: Probably the most versatile piece in your suitcase, you can easily work this tank into a number of day or night looks. Much like your white T-shirt, this can be paired with any bottoms your bring, but the cut and color will add a slightly dressier feel.
Tank Tunic With Scooped Out Back, $13.56; at ASOS
12. A Beach Cover-Up
Why: Everyone needs a grab-and-go piece to throw over a bathing suit, and were partial to this romper style that looks put together if you head into town or have a casual night out.
Marc by Marc Jacobs Black Flocked Star Dust Romper, $99; at Bluefly
13. Wedge sandals
Why: There's something too high-maintenance about toting along a pair of heels on a beach vacation, but sometimes a gal needs an extra few inches. These woven wedges are a perfect compromise, and they'll look fabulous with everything from your denim cutoffs to your maxi skirt.
MIA Frida Wedge Sandals, $79.95; at Amazon
14. Basic Sundress
Why: A loose, thin sundress isn't only comfortable and cool, but it barely takes up any space in your suitcase. Pair it with flat sandals, your denim shirt, and a panama hat for day or night.
Brandy Melville Melinda Dress, $28; at Brandy Melville
15. Semi-Dressy Dress
Why: Odds are, you'll want to get a little dressed at least one night—whether it's for dinner, drinks, or exploring the town. We'd advise keeping things simple with a swingy neutral dress—we love this summery white version—that'll look chic with flat sandals or wedges, your cross-body bag, and a swipe of orange-y lipstick.
Crochet Floral Flippy Tunic, $68; at Topshop
16. Closed-toe slip-ins
Why: Sandals are great, but sometimes a vacation calls for something a little more comfy. We're partial to a pair of easy-to-pack espadrille-style slip-ins that you can easily wear both day and night (and on the plane).
Soludos Classic Stripe Espadrilles, $36; at Soludos
17. Long-Sleeve T-Shirt
Why: In case things get chilly, pick up a lightweight cotton boatneck T-shirt. We're all about classic breton stripes, which look chic with a pair of denim cutoffs, a neutral mini skirt, or a pair of white jeans.
Boat Neck Tee, $19.90; at Uniqlo
19. Silky loose Pants
Why: Cool, comfortable, and chic, a pair of loose pants can work during the day or at night. Pair this tribal-printed style with a black tank or a white tee.
Tribal Satin Joggers, $19.80; at Forever 21
21. Rubber Flip Flops
Why: These need no explanation.
Printed Flip Flops, $6.95; at Old Navy
22. Denim Cutoffs
Why: Nothing says summer (or at least warm weather) like the perfect pair of denim shorts. We're all about a super-distressed pair to wear to the beach, into town, or out at night. Plus, they go with every single other thing you've packed.
Free People Dolphin Hem Cutoffs, $68; at Free People
23. Skinny White Jeans
Why: Blue jeans feel way too heavy for a warm-weather getaway, so opt for pair of lightweight white jeans that'll look summery and chic with all your tops and shoes.
Levi's Mid-Rise Skinny Jeans, $45; at Levi's
24. Neutral Mini Skirt
Why: Another no-brainer, this basic skirt can be worn anytime of day or night, with anything from a tucked-in white tee and flat sandals to your black tank and wedges.
Tuss Florida Skirt, $42.50; at La Garconne
25. Interesting Necklace
Why: Jazz up any outfit with a striking necklace that won't take up a ton of space. We're loving this restrained minimalist style that's chic decidedly un-cliché for a tropical getaway.
Colorblocked Linked Necklace, $12.80; at Forever 21
Bonus item: Chic suitcase
Why: If you're in the market for a new carry-on, we're loving this patterned style from Duro Olowu's collection for JC Penney.
Duro Olowu's collection for JC Penney Suitcase, $90; at JC Penney