Florida Packing List Made Simple
We find it amazing that many people think Florida is some third-world country and so far removed from the real world that you must have certain apparel, eyewear, hiking boots and expensive stylish jackets just to enter the state!
What to bring to Florida? Exactly what Floridians wear, pretty much wherever they go! Flipflops, an old shirt, and some kind of bathing suit or shorts. That is what we wear, 75% of the time.
No, we don’t work in that attire, but you aren’t going to be working either – even if you are supposed to be!
Many blogs will list 150 things you must pack for Florida travel. We look at those lists and think who would be so naive to think they needed all of those things – it’s Florida! We don’t take things too seriously and that includes clothes!
Most Florida travel blogs are written by people who live somewhere else. We live here, travel here and play here. Florida Travel Blog covers the whole state and we know travel requirements.
The Variables for What to Bring to Florida
If you are fishing in Islamorada for a week, you need to pack different things than the person staying in a luxury hotel on Marco Island. People traveling to historical sites throughout Florida may have different needs than someone spending a week on the island of Clearwater Beach.
The packing list may vary slightly but don’t overcomplicate the process. The point is to pack based on your plans, not what some website convinces you to bring to Florida.
Seasons Make a Difference
Florida experiences distinct seasons, and the climate can vary depending on the time of year. Understanding the seasons will help you simplify your packing list for Florida.
Here’s a general overview:
Winter (December to February):
- Weather: Winters are mild and relatively dry. Daytime temperatures typically range from the 60s to high 70s Fahrenheit (15-25°C).
- Packing Tips: Pack lightweight layers, including long sleeves and a light jacket for cooler evenings. If you plan to visit northern Florida, especially in January, it can get cooler, so bring a sweater or coat. North Florida (north of Orlando) is generally 6-7 degrees cooler than a couple hundred miles south like Ft. Myers and Naples.
Spring (March to May):
- Weather: Spring is warm and gradually becomes hotter. Daytime temperatures range from the 70s to 80s Fahrenheit (25-30°C). North Florida seems to stay cooler and comfortable longer.
- Packing Tips: Bring light and breathable clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen. The temperatures may seem moderate but the sun can still burn quickly. A light jacket or sweater may be useful for cooler evenings.
Summer (June to August):
- Weather: Summers are hot and humid, with daytime temperatures often reaching the 90s Fahrenheit (32°C and above). Jackets are rarely necessary in the summer even in the evenings.
- Packing Tips: Pack lightweight, breathable clothing, sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. Stay hydrated and be prepared for occasional afternoon thunderstorms.
Fall (September to November):
- Weather: Fall is still warm but begins to cool down gradually. Daytime temperatures range from the 70s to 80s Fahrenheit (25-30°C).
- Packing Tips: Bring lightweight clothing, but consider including a light jacket or sweater for cooler evenings. Be prepared for the occasional tropical storm or hurricane, especially in September and October.
General Packing Tips for Florida
These are the items that make a common-sense packing list for Florida.
- Swimwear: Florida’s beaches and pools make swimwear essential, regardless of the season.
- Sun Protection: Sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses are essential year-round due to the strong sunlight. We do recommend Polarized sunglasses if you are going to be around water. You can see clear into the water for several feet with Polarized lenses and the cost differences are insignificant (check the two sunglasses links for confirmation of price similarities).
- Rain Gear: A compact umbrella or a rain jacket or a pocket-size poncho for about $1 can be handy, especially during the summer months when afternoon showers are common.
- Comfortable Footwear: Comfortable sandals (we call them Flip Flops) or breathable shoes are suitable for the warm climate. Closed-toe shoes are recommended if you plan on exploring outdoor attractions or theme parks.
- Bug Repellent: In some areas, especially near bodies of water, mosquitoes can be present, so bug repellent may be useful. Keep an eye on young children since they can be vulnerable to mosquitoes without children’s repellent.
Big Note: If you intend on buying any of the recommended items above, buy them BEFORE you travel. Use the links we gave you or go to your local big box store and you will save money over the stores located in a travel destination.
Florida’s weather is the nicest overall in the entire country. However, we can have severe weather during hurricane season. They are rare and they don’t sneak up on you! That means you have plenty of time to change plans if severe weather is predicted.
Destinations Make A Difference of What to Bring to Florida
The half-dozen or so items above are all you need for a packing list for Florida that is any different from any other travel destination.
However, Florida’s diverse destinations offer varied landscapes and activities, influencing what you should bring to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable trip for specific activities and members of your traveling party. Your Florida packing list for a remote island beach may not include the same essentials as a Miami Beach vacation.
Here’s a general guide of what to bring to Florida based on different types of destinations in Florida:
Beach Destinations (e.g., Miami, Key West, Fort Lauderdale):
- What to Bring:
- Swimwear: Essential for enjoying the beaches and pools and much the same for all locations.
- Sun Protection: Sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses to protect against the strong sun.
- Light Clothing: Breathable fabrics to stay cool in the warm weather.
- Beach Accessories: Beach towels, flip-flops, and a beach bag. If you are going to a luxury hotel, beach towels may not be needed.
- Water Bottles: Stay hydrated, especially in the heat. Refillable water bottles will save you a lot of money.
- What to Bring:
Theme Park Destinations (e.g., Orlando, Tampa):
- What to Bring:
- Comfortable Shoes: Expect a lot of walking in theme parks. Disney World covers over 25,000 acres and 45 square miles. You won’t be getting to all of it, but your feet will think you did.
- Sun Protection: Sunscreen, hats, sunglasses for outdoor attractions.
- Portable Charger: Keep your devices charged for navigation and photos. Our favorite portable charger we have used in Florida and other parts of the world is here.
- Rain Gear: Ponchos or a small umbrella for unexpected rain showers.
- What to Bring:
Nature and Wildlife Destinations (e.g., Everglades, Sanibel Island):
- What to Bring:
- Binoculars: Enhance wildlife viewing experiences.
- Insect Repellent: Especially if exploring marshy or wooded areas such as the Everglades. Don’t skimp on repellent to ward off the “Swamp Angels” of the ‘glades.
- Comfortable Clothing: Long sleeves and pants for protection against mosquitoes. Deep in the Everglades, many people wear a screened hat.
- Camera: Capture the beauty of natural surroundings.
- What to Bring:
City Destinations (e.g., Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville):
- What to Bring:
- Urban Attire: Stylish clothing suitable for city environments.
- Comfortable Shoes: Especially if you plan to explore city streets.
- Travel Apps: Useful for navigation and discovering local attractions.
- Light Jacket or Sweater: For cooler evenings or air-conditioned indoor spaces.
- What to Bring:
Cultural and Historic Destinations (e.g., St. Augustine, Key West):
- What to Bring:
- Comfortable Walking Shoes: Explore historic sites on foot.
- Camera: Capture memories of historic architecture and landmarks.
- Appropriate Attire: Respectful clothing for religious or cultural sites.
- Guidebook or App: Learn about the history of the destination.
- What to Bring:
Gulf Coast vs. Atlantic Coast:
- What to Bring:
- Beach Towel or Blanket: Gulf Coast beaches often have softer sand and fewer wind swept dunes.
- Windbreakers: Atlantic Coast beaches may be windier.
- What to Bring:
If you plan to visit multiple destinations with different activities, your packing list for Florida should include versatile items to accommodate various experiences.
Florida Packing List for Specific Types of Florida Travel
While all the general tips create a basic packing list for Florida, specific activities may require more or fewer items on your packing requirements.
What to Pack for a Florida Family Vacation
Family vacations add another dimension to the issue of what to bring to Florida. Particularly if you have children involved that have different needs and requirements than adults. Of course, it’s the adults who are responsible for their children’s comfort and, hopefully, fun vacation.
Here is a packing list for a family vacation in addition to the general list above:
Sun Protection Essentials:
- High SPF sunscreen to protect against the strong Florida sun specifically designed for children.
- Sun hats and sunglasses for everyone in the family.
- Especially useful if you plan on exploring rocky beaches, wading in streams, or visiting water parks. Water shoes can protect against shells on the beaches that can be sharp.
- Depending on the season and location, insect repellent for children can be helpful, especially in areas with standing water.
Reusable Water Bottles:
- Staying hydrated is crucial, especially in Florida’s warm climate. Bring reusable water bottles for the whole family. Bottled water can get expensive.
Beach Towels and Blankets:
- Large, quick-drying beach towels and blankets for beach days or picnics in the park.
Travel Games and Activities:
- Pack age-appropriate travel games, toys, or books to keep children entertained during travel and downtime. The Sunshine State sees rain occasionally and the games keep the kids occupied.
First Aid Kit:
- Include basic travel size first aid supplies for minor injuries or discomfort during your trip. Kids will be kids and that means cuts and scrapes!
Wet Wipes and Hand Sanitizer:
- Handy for quick clean-ups, especially when soap and water are not readily available.
- Bring a variety of snacks for the journey and for those times when hunger strikes between meals. We recommend nothing that will melt, leak or become gooey!
Travel Adapters and Chargers:
- Ensure you have the necessary adapters and chargers for your electronic devices. Keeping phones charged for communication is essential for safe travel.
Printed Itinerary and Important Documents:
- Keep a printed copy of your travel itinerary, accommodation details, and important contact information in a waterproof safe place.
Remember that the specific needs of your family may vary, so customize your Florida packing list based on your planned activities and the ages of your family members. A fun family vacation at a Florida resort will be memorable with a little planning.
What to Pack for a Florida Fishing Trip
Packing for a fishing trip in Florida requires careful consideration of the weather, the type of fishing you’ll be doing, and any specific regulations for the area. Below a comprehensive list of items to pack for a Florida fishing trip.
While we highlight fishing, many of the recommended Florida packing list items apply to kayaking, jet skiing, canoeing and parasailing.
Be prepared for all types of fishing experiences. Note in the picture – hats, sunglasses, hats and long sleeve shirts are a must. You may be chartering a boat, fishing from shore, or on a pier. They all require some basics and some types of fishing may require more than the key items.
The first list includes items you will need if you are chartering a licensed boat in Florida. The bottom part of the list are things you need if you are going out fishing without a charter captain.
- Sun Protection:
Snacks and Drinks:
- Pack snacks and hydration to keep you energized throughout the day. Water is a must.
- Keep important items like your phone, wallet, and keys in a waterproof bag to protect them from water exposure.
The items above are all you need on a chartered fishing boat. There is no need for a fishing license.
Everything else is typically provided. It is always a good idea to check with the Captain of the vessel one day before to see if anything has changed.
People do not need to hire a boat. Florida has shorelines, fishing piers, jetties and docks all great places to wet a line.
Here is a list of additional items you may need when fishing in Florida on your own:
Fishing License: Ensure you have a valid Florida fishing license, as it’s required for both residents and non-residents. You can buy one online at FWC Online.
Cooler: Bring a cooler to keep your catch fresh and store drinks and snacks. Water is essential to stay hydrated.
First Aid Kit: Include basic first aid supplies for cuts, scrapes, or insect bites.
Insect Repellent: Depending on the location and time of year, insect repellent can be essential.
Navigation Tools: GPS device or a map of the area, especially if you’re fishing in unfamiliar waters.
Personal Identification: Keep your driver’s license or ID in a waterproof holder.
Extra Clothing (optional): Pack an extra set of clothes in case you get wet or need to change (or just smell bad after fishing all day!).
Light Source: Headlamp or flashlight for early morning or evening fishing.
Knife or Fillet Tool: A sharp knife or fillet tool for cleaning and preparing your catch.
Fish Gripper or Lip Grips: Helpful for handling and releasing fish safely.
Towel: A small towel for wiping hands or cleaning equipment.
Trash Bags: Pack trash bags to dispose of any waste responsibly.
Portable Chair or Seat Cushion: If you’ll be sitting for an extended period, a portable chair or seat cushion can add comfort.
Remember to check the specific regulations for the area where you plan to fish and follow ethical and sustainable fishing practices. Additionally, be aware of the weather forecast and pack accordingly for a safe and enjoyable fishing trip in Florida.
What To Pack When Flying to Florida
Flying to Florida brings several new elements into the packing problem. Questions like:
- For how many days?
- Are you just taking a carry-on or checking suitcases?
- Are packing for the whole family or just for yourself?
- Are you traveling internationally or domestically?
- How long will you be in the air and what might you need?
Let’s simplify this whole issue about flying to Florida.
- Your packing list doesn’t change. Just the limitations on space in your suitcase or carry-on bag.
- If you are checking bags, the limitation is on weight. Check with your airline, but most are around 50 pounds maximum.
- Your packing list will not change but it may be modified according to the amount of space you have.
The real issue with flying to Florida or anywhere else is not what TO pack, it is an issue of what NOT TO pack to stay with the TSA guidelines along with airline rules.
The video below is much better at explaining your packing dilemma than any words we can write!
Comfort on the Airplane
While your packing issues may be solved, you still have to spend some serious time on the airplane. Now you must pack a carry-on bag with all the potential things you may need during your flight.
Airlines allow a personal carry-on item that must include everything you need on your flight. Here are some examples of carry-on bags:
- Passport, ID, boarding pass, and any necessary visas. We don’t recommend packing any important documents in luggage.
Wallet and Essentials:
- Cash, credit cards, and essential personal items like keys and lip balm.
- Smartphone, tablet, or laptop and their chargers.
- Headphones or earplugs to block out noise.
- Portable charger or power bank. Newer models of backup power will even keep that laptop computer charged up on a long flight.
- Books, e-reader, or Kindle.
- Magazines or puzzle books.
- Downloaded movies, TV shows, or music for entertainment. Don’t rely on in-flight movies – they don’t always work or may not be good.
- Healthy snacks like nuts, dried fruit, or granola bars.
- Gum or mints to freshen your breath.
- Travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste. You will want this after a trans-continental all-nighter!
- Facial wipes or wet wipes.
- Moisturizer and lip balm to combat dry air.
- Layers, especially if the plane temperature varies. Our experience is the places get chilly on long flights.
- Socks and comfortable shoes, especially for long flights. Most people bring a pair of socks because feet get cold quickly and shoes are the first thing to go on a long flight.
- Any important travel insurance documents or emergency contacts.
Gadgets and Accessories:
- Luggage Security
- Air Tags are helpful when luggage gets lost, stolen or misplaced. For less than $20 each, they can give you peace of mind and they can be used over and over.
- To alleviate dry or irritated eyes.
Notebook and Pen:
- Useful for jotting down notes, addresses, or any important information.
Travel Guides or Maps:
- If you prefer physical guides, bring them along for reference.
Remember to pack according to your specific needs and the duration of the flight. Adjust your carry-on bag contents based on the airline’s regulations and any travel restrictions in place.
Final Travel Tips for Florida
Few places in the world get more tourists than Florida. In fact, over 58 million people visit the Orlando area each year. Miami, Key West, Tampa and the panhandle all get their share of visitors who come here for the sand, sun and beauty of the state.
Like most other destinations, there are ways to make your visit more memorable by following some common sense tips.
- Choose the right time to visit. Florida has a subtropical climate with warm temperatures year-round. The best time to visit is during the spring (March-May) or fall (September-November) when the weather is mild and sunny, but not too hot or humid.
- Consider your interests. Florida has something for everyone, from theme parks and beaches to museums and historical sites. Decide what you want to see and do before you book your trip.
- Book your accommodations in advance. Florida is a popular tourist destination, so it’s important to book your accommodations in advance, especially if you’re traveling during peak season.
Staying Safe in Florida
- Be aware of your surroundings. Florida is a generally safe state, but it’s important to be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas.
- Don’t leave your valuables unattended. Keep your valuables with you at all times, or store them in a secure location.
- Be careful of the sun. Florida’s sun is very strong, so be sure to wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and reapply it often. You should also wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes. Don’t forget the SPF lip balm!
- Watch out for wildlife. Like many other states, Florida is home to a variety of wildlife, including alligators, snakes, and spiders. Be sure to stay aware of your surroundings and avoid areas where wildlife is known to be present.
- Don’t swim alone. It’s always a good idea to swim with a buddy, even if you’re a strong swimmer.
Florida Has Hundreds of Beaches
Having Fun in Florida
- Explore the beaches. Florida has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Relax on the sand, swim in the ocean, or go for a walk.
- Visit the theme parks. Florida is home to some of the world’s most popular theme parks, including Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld. Don’t forget Tampa and Busch Gardens.
- Go on a road trip. Florida is a great state to explore by car. Take a Florida road trip along the coast or through the Everglades.
- Experience the culture. Florida has a rich and diverse culture. Visit a museum, attend a festival, or try some local cuisine.
Learn About Florida History
- Florida has a long and fascinating history. Visit a historical site, take a guided tour or read more about the Sunshine State.
- Find out some fun facts about Florida including:
- Florida has the oldest city in America.
- Florida has almost 1200 miles of coastline. That includes a lot of beaches!
- Florida has over 11,000 miles of rivers and streams.
- Almost 1000 natural springs are in Florida.
As you can see we have a lot to see and do. Perfect reasons to come back often!
Finally, worry less about what to bring to Florida. It is really pretty simple. Download the packing list for Florida and use it to pack as little as possible.
We hope to see you soon. In Florida!