What to Pack for a Sailing Holiday

The Ultimate Sailing Packing Guide

Packing for a Sailing Holiday

Avoiding that… Sinking Feeling

What to Pack for a Sailing Holiday. No one enjoys that sinking feeling of, where is my charging lead, or wouldn’t flipflops have been great for the beach, once you get to your destination. Or if only we had some pegs to prevented my best beach town from sinking to the bottom of the harbour. This article is designed to do an in-depth look at what you should pack and things to consider when you do.


Okay, you have booked a yacht, your flights and transfers – everything is ready. Then, a question crosses your mind; “What to pack for a sailing holiday?

What to Pack for a Sailing Charter. There are some additional considerations when considering what to pack, some things will be obvious some comfortable clothes, swimsuits, a light jacket in case you are cold during sailing or at night, sunblock and a pair of dark sunglasses and a hat with string! Quite simple, isn’t it? Well, we thought we would make it even easier with our comprehensive blog and a checklist you can download.


What, Where are When

The climate at your location for the time of year, your position in the crew, how far you plan to sail, are you planning eating on board, if so how often and what meals, are you going to be doing any night sailing, and so on.  For that reason, we can’t write a perfect packing list for all occasions, but we can give you a great guide, some top tips and a great checklist to download and run through.


Clothing is always the main issue. If you have not sailed before, your holidays wardrobe may will of consisted of your best bib and tucker to make you feel glamorous and smart at every turn.  Whilst it’s important to have something for every occasion, sailing is more suiting to light comfortable clothes and items that can tolerate a little sea water.  Some items of clothing and when they are worn might be down to: who you are sailing with and your modesty threshold – trying to get into a small boat to get ashore in that short skirt may be tricky if you want your modesty to remain completely intact!

1. What to Pack on a Sailing Holiiday

We aim to take a comprehesive look at what to pack, yet do consider your own personal preferences too.

The Basic Principle of knowing what to Pack for a Sailing Holiday.

First, even on bigger boats, stowage space will be limited. Get it badly wrong, you’ll forget essentials and your cabin explode with all your gear, but you will also end up sleeping with it. With some careful thought, we can get the balance right. Here’s my advice:

Pack. Remove half. remove half again. You’ll be about right.

First things to consider when thinking about what to Pack for a Sailing Holiday

When considering what to pack on a sailing holiday there are a number of initial factors that you need to consider:

  1. Climate. Will it be warm, and will it be warm at night? In general, we say that you need one more layer at sea than onshore. So if it’s bikini weather ashore, you’ll need a wrap or t-shirt whilst sailing.
  2. Type of Boat. When we say one layer cooler at sea, that will be multiplied if your doing 25 knots at the bridge of a motor yacht. The number of bare-chested and bikini topped ladies aim to prove my thoughts wrong, maybe I feel the cold more than most!
  3. You! As the last point makes, we are all different, and you will you your own tolerance to heat and cooler. Adjust what you pack to suit you, but don’t be afraid to sneak a hoody in, just in case. The kind of places you know you will eat might be very narrow, for others they might need an outfit for more upmarket restaurants.
  4. Type of Sailing. Even when we limit ourselves to what to pack on a sailing holiday, there will be a difference between what you need for long days at sea in the Greek Cyclades and the short line-of-site hops of a yacht charter in the British Virgin Islands.
  5. Destination. Some destinations are informal taverners where almost all attire is welcome. Yet if you want to visit the higher class resorts of the Bahamas, you are going to need to pack appropriately.

2. Washing and Shaving

Whilst they might be the first thing in your lugage, some things to think about.

We are not all the same. The author of this blog likes nothing more than waiting for everyone to head for their cabins before showering off the back of the boat. I take my saltwater soap and have, what is for me, a luxurious wash and brush up. I am drinking my first cocktail long before the first person heads back up.

I don’t have hair that needs straightening or drying, bear in mind, that unless your yacht has a powerful generator on board, none of these things will work. Of course, sailing is all about beach hair and looing and feeling fabulous with it, gain, take a second to think through your routine and what you need.

  • Shower Gel. Those, ahem, halve used ones from hotels are great.
  • Shampoo. (same tip)
  • Flannel. Even if you’re not a flannel person, they are extremely useful on boats where they can be easily washed and dried and be used for all sorts of things.
  • Toothpaste (and brush). Most chemists stock that little testers, my tip is to ask your dentist who gets sent loads of them.
  • Hairbrush/Comb.
  • Universal Basin Plug. Another Top Tip. You find yourself in some swanky marina, you’re using the beautiful individualised cabins, only to find someone has had a way with the plug.
  • Deodorant.
  • Contact lens cleaner.
  • Washing powder. Just a little. Your favourite smaller lighter thangs can be washed and used again to save you space.
  • Hair bobbles and Grips. If you have long hair, make you have a few spares of your favourite devices.

Think of anything I missed? Please leave a comment at the bottom of the blog and future sailors looking for what to pack on a sailing holiday will be eternally grateful, as will I.

3. Medical, Protective and Sleep

This might be one of the hardest things to solve if you don't get it right.


  • Prescription  Medicines.
  • First Aid. Basic pain relief anti-inflammatories, anti-histamines, etc.
  • A First Aid Kit. Although, in theory, your boat should have a Mini First Aid Kit, a few plasters and bandages can come in very handy.


  • Sunglasses. Good Quality.
  • Hat. Peaked, or a sunhat with a rim.
  • Anti-Seaksickness remedies. Read our blog on Sea Sickness Remedies (New Window).
  • Sunscreen. The sea reflects UV, so expect a good tan, but avoid any burning with plenty of waterproof sunblock.


Getting a good nights sleep is an essential part of enjoying any holiday

  • Bedding. Most European charter boats provide bedding. Some destinations like the UK, do not. These are just something to think about.
  • Sleeping Bag. Pack light freeze at night.
  • Pillow or Pillowcase. The pillowcase can be stuffed with fleece to save you some space if that matters.
  • Pyjamas
  • Hot water bottle. (not for most of our destinations!).

Food for thought:

  • Hammock. Trusted by many sailors in days gone by, and for good reason. If you don’t use it to sleep, you can always use it to relax.

  • Wind Scoop. This is a great top tip, especially when at anchor as the scoop will always be in the right position. It’s useful at other times too, so long as the direction if the wind does not change.

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4. What to Wear When Underway.

All the Gear... No idea!

Once You are underway, life can be different on a yacht charter, depending on whether you have any official responsibilities. If you have a permanent Skipper, he will do almost everything themselves leaving you plent to time to curl up somewhere with a book. If you are the skipper, then it might depend on who esle you can rely on as to how you prepare for a passage, and perhaps where you are. A line of site 20 minute run in the British Virgins Islands, is going to be different to a passage between islands in the Cyclades in Greece.

Here are some of the essentials to consider packing on a sailing holiday:

  • Socks.
  • Shorts.
  • Leggings or light trousers.
  • T-shirts/Tops.
  • Swimwear.
  • Synthetic T-Shirts.
  • A good book (or two)

5. Foul Weather Gear

Think Through Every Scenario

There are so many factors her. As already mentions What to Pack on a Sailing Holiday is highly dependasnt on the destination, tiomne of year and type of sailing. It also depends on you. Are you the skipper or the mate? Are you the person that would have top helm for hours in the rain on the last day to get the yacht back on time?

For some, being without their trusted Oilskins, no matter where they sail is the most prudent packing advice. Myself? I stuff my old breathable dingy smock at the bottom of my bag. It’s come in very useful indeed over the years and is not as an incumbrance as my offshore oilskins when sailing in holiday destinations.

6. Shore Gear

Lot's of Light Clothes are Perfect when Packing for a Sailing Holiday

I find myself with the dielama of comfortable cottons, that don’t feel so great when wet and are a struggle to wash and dry. Versus, modern man made fabrics which keep you somewhat warm when wet and are easy to recycle with a quick wash and dry.

7. Documents. Licences, Visas & Permits

Travel Needs Plenty of Documents - Don't Let a Small Slip a Big Effect

As well as the list below, try to be exhaustive here. Also, be sure to check all the expiry dates.

  • Passports.
  • Visas.
  • Sailing Licences.
  • Logbook.
  • Vaccination records.
  • Credit/Debit Cards.
  • Cash (if necessary)

8. Baggage

A Contriversial Subject with Non-Sailors

Trellers have got used to wheeling their bags convienently around airports, etc. I have even seen the latest sailing bags including wheels. Yet all experienced sailors know the benefits of a soft bag that has no wheels, it can be stowed away easily. A hard bag, or one that can’t be pushed into a small space, ends up being an incumberance. I have seen many guests sleeping alongside there big rigid suitcases, at best they take up all the space in the wardrobe.

9. The Little Things

Get your thinking caps on!

So you get halfway across the world to discover you forgot to load a battery into your camera, or you don’t have the charging lead for your camera.

What you actually need, is going to vary. For instance, if your boat has a generator, then my top tip of buying a 12V inverter, is largely unnecessary if you have plenty of 110V/220V on tap.

  • Pegs! Stop those towels throwing themselves into the sea in a fit of rage the moment you don’t give them your attention.
  • Camera. Phones are great these days, yet if you want that genuine depth of field.
  • Inverter. Turns 12V magically into 110/22oV be sure to check what your boat runs on. It won’t run heavy ampage devices like blenders, hairdryers, straighteners, but it will run laptops, chargers, etc.
  • Music Jack. Older boast especially, you’ll be able to link up your phones and play your own music.
  • 12V USB. The ones with 2 or 3 slots are best to get all those devices charged!
  • Multi-Adapter. There are some great ones that will always ensure you can pair up your devices with what you find on the boat.
  • Charging Leads. Take a spare or two!
  • 220/110V USB Charging Bank. If you have an inverter, a bank of USB charging points can be really useful.
  • A Chart App. Navionics are the leading App, keep track of your charter and make plans in advance.
  • GoPro. There are other versions avialbe, but these little waterproof cameras are so great,
  • Extra T-Towels. You can simply NEVER have enough.
  • Small Torch. Occasionally the electrics will go, and they are great for getting back at night in the dimgh.
  • Power Banks.

10. Sailing Shoes

A Confiedenct Mix of Appropriate Footware

So footwear got its own segment! It is also a much-debated topic. For some, barefoot is the ONLY way to move around a boat. For others, you must have closed-toe footwear to prevent the inevitable snubbed toe. There are footwear types that are considered completely forbidden, like stiletto heels, that will damage almost any deck.

Here are some ideas to think about

  • Deck Shoes. The deck shoe is specially designed for their purpose and come highly recommended. Don’t mistake them for a boat shoe with a more “clunky Shoe”, look for the smooth razor cut sole designed grip on wet decks.
  • Ladies’ Deck Shoe
  • Men’s Deck Shoes 2-Eye in Nubuck, blue navy.
  • Sliders/Flip Flops.
  • Deck Boots. Probably overkill for most holiday charters. Some sailors have great breathable boots they wear everywhere!

What type of Bag Should I Use?

Stowage space is a premium on all but the largest boats and catamarans where things are a bit more spacious.  The ideal bags to pack are soft and without any kind of frame.  You can easily stow your belongings in your cabin, your bags can pack away safely somewhere deeper. Anything bigger of stiffer, then you will have to ‘live’ with it.  This means moving it around at sleep time, and when trying to access equipment that might be stowed under your bunk.

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A Thought About Safty

Lifejackets are provided by law on every charter boat in every jurisdiction. It’s a really good idea to try them out of day 1, the chances of you needing them are rare, but should the moment arise, it’s nice to have that confidence.

The life jackets are likely to the cheap, but very effective foam type. This makes them very difficult to wear as a precautionary measure. If you are a weak or non-swimmer, likely to sail far from the land or in windy conditions, you should consider your own PFD.

The horseshoe style ones are much easier to wear as a precaution. We recommend the Baltic Winner 150N Manual Lifejacket with Harness.

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Leads & Electronics

If you start sailing, and suddenly realise that you have no way of charging your phone, life can get a bit tricky. One of top tips (you will find the rest on the checklist) is to ensure you have a 12V USB Charger, the type that goes into the cigarette lighter.  Nearly all boats have these fittings, and if you get one with a  couple of ports, it will ensure you can charge one or two devices.  Most yachts have some kind of sound system.  The best way to get your own tunes is to have a lead that runs from your iPod or smartphone to the radio; ask for a 3.5mm – 3.5mm jack lead.

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How much gear to bring?

When I brief my crews it’s some pretty straight forward advice.  Pack, remove half, remove half again, and you should be about right!  Okay, that’s a bit tongue in cheek, but you are more likely to make too much, than not enough. For those serious about sailing, he’s a great bag that will never let you down.

Download Your Free Checklist

Our comprehensive 7-page checklist and guide of what to pack on a sailing holiday.:


Click here to view or download



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