October 17, 2022 by Martín Lyon

How to Pack for a Sailing Vacation

Whether you’re an experienced sailor or joining us to learn the fundamentals of sailing, here are some tips on what to bring on your upcoming sailing vacation. Watch our Youtube episode where Layne goes through the essentials of packing for your trip!

  1. The Bag
  2. Packing Cubes
  3. Clothing and Swimwear
  4. Toiletries 
  5. Shoes
  6. Wet-weather Gear
  7. Sailing Specific Items

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1. The Bag 

Packing List Blog Post Photos 1

Ok so this needs to be said: You will not need a lot of clothing on your sailing vacation! It's going to be warm, sunny and we’ll be sailing and anchoring in different spots every day. Plus, sailboats are not famous for their storage capacity. Hard suitcases take up a lot of space and are difficult to stow away. A duffel bag can be squashed down so it takes up a lot less space. You can even avoid a holding luggage fee if you pack light and get one of our Sailing Virgins 20 liter drybags. Best of all, they look awesome!

If you tend to be a heavy packer we recommend this North Face duffel bag.


2. Packing Cubes 

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Your perfectly organized bag will become a mess once you start searching for that cool shirt you bought for the trip. Fitting your clothes into small packing cubes will help you save space and keep everything organized. These are our favorite ones, but any one will do the job.

3. Clothing and Swimwear

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Your sailing uniform will basically be your choice of swimwear and maybe a shirt once the sun starts hitting. You can get one of our long sleeve t-shirts for maximized extra UV protection. We’ll be in a different spot each day so don’t worry too much about bringing three dozen shirts and shorts. You don’t have to worry about impressing anyone with your fashion sense.

Other recommended clothing includes a hoodie for the odd chilly night and your regular undies and pyjamas. 

For some courses such as the Offshore & Performance Courses you may also require foul weather gear and sailing boots. Check out individual course pages for more information.  

Pro tip 💡: Denim is a big no-no. Once your jeans get wet they will never dry again.

4. Toiletries

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A basic toiletry kit is more than enough. Toothbrush, shampoo/conditioner and a bar of soap will do the job. Sailboats tend to be sunscreen magnets. Bottles and tubes appear in every cabinet you open. Nonetheless, bring some of your own. It’s harder to look cool if you look like a lobster. Mosquito repellant may come in handy when heading to shore. Also, pulling salty lines every day definitely takes a toll on your hands so we recommend bringing a good moisturizing cream or aloe vera. It will also help you soothe your sunburn. 

5. Shoes

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What’s the point of a sailing vacation if you don't get to be barefoot most of the time? You’ll only use shoes when heading to shore, and even then it’s optional. Stubbing your pinky toe on every cleat on the boat is a very good way of learning where they’re located.

We all know that if your feet are cold, your body is cold. You’ll regret bringing your leather Air Force 1s as soon as they get wet. Say no to bulky sneakers, boots or leather shoes, they are far too bulky. Instead pack some light mesh sneakers or flip-flops/thongs/jandals! Our go tos are Havaianas or Birkenstocks (the rubber ones).

6. Wet-weather Gear

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A waterproof jacket is the most essential garment that makes up a sailor's outfit. Sailing means being in a windy environment for hours on end. Add water sprays to the equation and you will be happy to have your jacket handy. Even on a warm sunny day when we’re out sailing it can get chilly. A good waterproof jacket is certainly a must. Helly Hansen makes some amazing multi-purpose options (mens version here & women’s version here). 

Another quintessential piece of gear is a dry bag. Rocking boats, salt water and dinghies are not a good combination for your brand new iPhone. We recommend bringing a small waterproof dry bag to keep all your valuables safe and dry. We’ve seen our fair share of cell phones fall overboard so we’ve made our own mini dry bag! A separate waterproof cellphone case is highly recommended too. These are super handy when coming and going to shore.


7. Sailing Specific Items

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These will come in handy when you need them the most and will make your life easier at sea. 

  • Head torch: A must for night passages. If buying a new one, choose one that has a red light mode so you don’t blind everyone around you. For night dinghy riding, a head torch is a very good way of making sure you are visible to other boats.
  • Portable speaker: Deck speakers are one of the first things that stop working on a sailboat. Don’t ask me why… So better be prepared. Bring your own!
  • Power bank: Although most modern boats have AC plugs, these are usually located in the cabins and main galley, so they are of no use if you’re on the deck using a sailing app and your phone battery is dying. 
  • Mini inverter: A lot of boats run with 12V power when not plugged into shore power, so you’ll need an inverter to be able to charge your electronics.
  • Headphones: To zone out and relax.
  • Sailing Virgins hat: if you wanna be the coolest one on board… just saying.
  • Sunglasses: Get a pair of your go-tos. Make sure they have UV protection.
  • Multi-tool: You’ll be amazed how many times per day you’ll be using your multi-tool. 
  • Snorkel / Mask: We practice freediving when we anchor. It’s an awesome sport and a very useful tool at sea. From removing a stuck anchor to getting dinner with a spear gun, you get the point… You can even start training ahead of time with apps like this one.
  • Water Bottle: gotta keep hydrated... plus they are spill-proof!
  • Kindle: The sea tends to inspire everyone. The relaxing/blissful sensation after a beautiful day at sea may have you questioning your future life choices. It has happened to all of us! A good book and a notepad can be the best companions for these moments.

Download Checklist


Whatever essentials you decide to bring, remember the most important part is already there waiting for you: a nice sailboat in one of our beautiful destinations, an awesome crew, good vibes and a great week ahead! We aim to give a comprehensive list of what you need for your next sailing vacation. Is there anything you can't sail without that we haven't included? Let us know in the comments.



Sailing Virgins is an adventure sailing academy with the belief that the younger crowd wants a sailing experience that is more athletic, more exhilarating and more social than your typical sailing course. We run beginner to advanced courses throughout the year in the world's most picturesque destinations. Whatever your level we have something for you. Check out our courses below or Email us to find out more. 

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