Sailing Trip Essentials: What To Pack Sailing

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Post author SJ

Written by our local expert SJ

Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.

We help answer your question about what to put on your packing list for any sailing holiday; we made this sailing trip essentials list. We’ll help you create the ultimate packing list for your sailing holiday.

Sailing Holiday Packing List for Him and Her

A sailing holiday is one of the most relaxing vacation types, with no checking in and out of hotels and no need to pack your bags every few days as you move from location to location.


However, because you are aboard a yacht (or boat), you need to ensure that you have everything you need from the beginning of the journey, as purchasing items while sailing can be expensive and difficult.

Don’t worry, though! We’ve sailed a few times (even with kids!) and have the ultimate packing list for your week-long sailing vacation right here, whether around the Dalmatian Islands or in the Kvarner Region.

Besides the obvious suggestions like your passport and visa (if required), tickets, bank ATM cards, credit cards, phone, charger, and music, two items are by far the most important, in my opinion.

Sailing Packing List: Two Key Essentials

  • Soft-soled shoes. No need to buy fancy boat shoes, although there are so many super-cool ones in stores! You will need shoes with a rubber sole to avoid making scuff marks (which can be deducted from your rental deposit) and ensure you don’t slip and fall on deck. Breaking a leg is one sure way to ruin your vacation on the azure seas.
  • Soft bag. If possible, pack your cute bikinis, travel brasand tanning lotions in a soft bag; they always seem to stow much more quickly than big bulky hard suitcases that take up far too much room. I like this Herschel Supply Co. bag, which comes in a bunch of colors and is polyester. It’s easy to clean and won’t be easily damaged by saltwater. Duffle bags are a great option as they are big but can be stored under your bed.

Oh, and sailors believe it’s bad luck to bring a hard suitcase onboard – or, at least, that is what I have been told!

Sailing Packing List: What Else You Need

  • Lightweight clothes. Dresses, tank tops, shorts, that type of thing. Just remember that you’ll be in your swimwear most of the time:
    • Women. Two dresses, two pairs of shorts, and three T-shirts/tank tops.
    • Men. Five T-shirts/tank tops, three pairs of shorts.
  • Good quality sunglasses are a must. 
  • Wind protection. Easily forgotten off your packing list because you are thinking about the sun. However, you may get caught in some cool weather, so pack at least one pullover, cardigan, or windbreaker, just in case.
  • A pashmina or throw is also very handy if things get chilly.
  • In case of bad weather. If it gets crisp at night, or you encounter (gasp!) rain. Be sure to have a pair of leggings/tracksuit pants as a backup. If a pair of socks and a light jumper can fit into your bag, throw them in.
  • Underwear. Bras and underwear. One for each day. No one wants to wash and hang these up for the world to see.
  • Swimwear. These are small and light, so:
    • Women. Please bring at least two, but I usually end up packing four… okay, five.
    • Men. Boardshorts or speedos, you decide.
  • Cover-ups. I am not a fan of strutting about in my swimwear while sailing, so I always add a few kaftans, sarongs, and cover-up dresses to my sailing packing list. Although I’m guilty of color-coordinating them with my swimmers, there’s no need to go that far (or is there?). 
  • Shoes. Let’s face it; you will be barefoot most of the time (or in your rubber-soled shoes). Nevertheless, you will also need a pair of flip-flops and/or sandals to wear while out at a restaurant. If you plan to bike or hike, a pair of tennis shoes is also handy. The husband and I combine two pairs and add to our sailing packing list a pair of unisex Superga shoes perfect for walking and soft-soled for wearing on the yacht.
  • Skin protection. Girls, pack your most oversized, most-wide brim hat (or hats if you like to color coordinate). Boys, add to your sailing packing list a baseball cap. And everyone, pack lots and lots of 50+ sunscreen. Note: Sunscreen can be expensive on the islands, so be sure to bring it.
  • The usual water toys. But what about an underwater camera? This one is just $20! Of course, you’ll still need your everyday beach-side vacation essentials like a blow-up lounge chair, snorkeling gear, and camera,…
  • Towels. Microfiber towels are the best choice because they dry very fast. Often, the yacht rental company provides one. If they do not, pack two, so you have one to use while drying or rolling up and using it as a pillow on the deck.
  • Camera. There are so many photo ops while sailing you may even need two. Don’t forget your batteries and or charger. It also can’t hurt to add a spare memory card to your sailing holiday packing list.
  • Toiletries. This is one area you can save a lot of room. Purchase an inexpensive hanging toiletry bag, and pack in just the basics – in travel size. Your sailing packing list must-haves are soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, motion sickness meds (just in case), mosquito repellent, skin moisturizer, and antiperspirant deodorant. Plus:
    • Women. A hairbrush, elastics, a headband, a razor, and tampons if you think you’ll need them (let’s hope not).
    • Men. Nothing extra, aren’t you lucky!

Brands We Use And Trust

If You Have Any Room Left, Some Other Items You May Want To Add To Your Packing List Are…

  • Earplugs. Things can get noisy if you are docked at a busy marina overnight.
  • Denim jacket. While you can bring a cardigan or wrap, throw on a Levi’s Women’s Authentic Trucker Jacket to add a slight edge to your look. This jacket works great with a tank dress or over casual shorts.
  • Eyemask. It may be overkill, but some of you may need it, especially for a daytime siesta.
  • Activities to pass the time. Those books you’ve meant to read (leave them behind when you are done), E-Reader, magazines, playing cards, and music. Additionally, if many of you sail for a week, what about packing a board game?
  • Waterproof bag to protect your phone and other valuables. You can get ones like this or use zip-lock bags, which are a little cheaper.
  • Clothes pegs. Things need to dry on deck, and when you pick up speed or the winds are a-blowing, you need pegs to tie your gear down. You don’t want your towels and swimmers flying off into the Adriatic, do you?
  • Lip balm. Wind-chapped lips are a real drag.

Things You Should Leave Off Your Sailing Packing List

Diving underwater camera | Sailing Croatia

  • Hair Straightener. Girlfriend, with the salt in your hair, let it all be all-natural!
  • Expensive watches and jewelry. Once it falls overboard, it’s gone forever.
  • High heels. There isn’t any need. Period.

Now, there is probably just one more thing missing from your packing list – me! Can I come with you on your sailing adventure? Fair winds and following seas.


Comments (21)

  1. I’ve known people to go island hoping/sailing in Croatia. It looks beautiful! Might need to add that to the bucket list.

  2. A book SJ,
    when you go sailing, you must at least take one book with you.
    I did lots of sailing, Dutch waters, Dutch, Belgian, French and English coast,
    and always there were moments you want to have a bit of rest, isolated from the rest.
    Trust me, a bóóóók !!!’
    Ahoy, Pim.

  3. Great list! Thank you. I love the high-heels comment. We once went on a boat to Bedarra Island with a women wearing high heels. She carried it off because she had poise and confidence but on anyone else it would have been just plain silly.

  4. Ah I wish I had sailing plans in the near future…**sigh** but when I do, I’ll have to check this post again! Thanks for hosting the link up!

  5. I’ve been on short boat trips, but never a real sailing vacation – though I’ve always been fascinated by boats and sailing adventure stories. Maybe one day I’ll fulfill my childhood dream of living on a boat . . .

  6. Waw, cool list! I never thought about sailing holidays but the ‘no checking in and out of hotels’ would be such a good thing!

  7. Haha! I love all the sass in this post! Sailing around the islands in Croatia sounds like a lovely way to pass the summer. Sign me up!

  8. What a great list. I would have never thought to bring earplugs. One of the malls that I liked to hang out at in Malaysia had a marina as part of it, and there was always loud music blasting from all the surrounding bars and restaurants at night. I’d look out at the yachts while I sipped my Starbucks and dreamed of a sailing vacation. Unfortunately, I get horribly, horribly seasick unless it’s the calmest of waters. While I might be willing to put up with it, the constant threat of being vomited upon by me seems to freak out the rest of my family.

    1. Oh yes, I have been one of those non-sleeping people thanks to the loud music. It’s all fun until YOU wanna sleep. That’s a big sucky-poo-poo for being so so sick, so, not even tablets help you?

  9. Thanks for the wonderful tips about the sailing holiday , it is best way to passed time by the sailing tips. i love also sailing post. thanks keep it up

  10. Hi Chasingthedonkey,
    Thank you fro posting your article, I found it interesting !
    Keep posting !

  11. My husband and I are going sailing for the first time ever, it’s something that we’ve wanted to do for a while. I really appreciate such a detailed list of what to pack, I’m sure it would be a good idea to pack leggings in case it gets cold. Thank you for such a helpful article!

  12. Great list. I had no idea that it was considered bad luck to bring a hard suitcase on board… thanks for the tip.

  13. Hi!

    Thanks a lot for this informative article! Is there a possibility to get in touch either via e-mail or (link) to feature some of your tips on our web?

  14. GREAT post and on point! I’ve done 2 one week trips, getting for the 3rd and 4th and this list is a great one. Thanks for sharing.

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