The Essential Island Vacation Checklist: 12 Things You Must Do Before You Go Slideshow

The Essential Island Vacation Checklist: 12 Things You Must Do Before You Go

We can't stress enough how important research is when it comes to planning an island vacation. Sure, you may have done research to find out what island would be the best to visit for your needs, but there's more to vacationing than simply booking your ticket.

It's easy to think you won't need much on an island, but once you're at your destination you might realize you weren't exactly prepared. To make sure your vacation goes without a hitch make sure you have your plans ready for your entire stay — from the car rental to any restaurant reservations you may need if you'd like to try out some of the island's best. Once you know where you're going, figure out what you'll need; perhaps the restaurant has a certain dress code, and other places you plan to visit might require a certain attire as well (for instance, covering shoulders, knees, and toes in a church). Here are a few other tips to follow before you leave on your vacation.

Confirm Rentals Before Arriving

If you're planning on renting a car while on vacation, be sure to call and confirm the arrangement prior to your arrival. You may also want to check what side of the road you'll be driving on, since islands such as the British Virgin Islands drive on the left side where others such as Belize drive on the right.

Pack Travel Documents

Make duplicates of any travel documents you may need before heading out — this goes for any and all trips. Don't pack the copies with the originals, either, since the idea is to have a backup in case you lose the originals. This includes passports, licenses, and reservations.

Pack Appropriate Attire

If you're going to an island you'll likely be packing for warm beach weather, but if you plan on doing any sightseeing, know what is considered appropriate attire at each location. For instance, you won't be able to wear a bathing suit and flip flops into any historic churches. If you've made dinner reservations at nice restaurants, double-check the attire as well in case shorts and a tee-shirt won't cut it. 

Pack Sunblock

You'll be able to buy sunblock on any island you visit, but assuming you'll want to hit the beach immediately upon arrival, you better have some handy. There's nothing worse than burning to a crisp on your first day of vacation only to have to avoid the sun like a vampire for the rest of your trip.

Pack Aloe

Even if you bring sunscreen, it's almost inevitable that you'll get burned at some point during your vacation. There seems to always be a patchwork of spots missed when applying the lotion, or even worse, you could fall asleep in the sun for hours on end. You'll be happy you brought along aloe when this happens. Shea butter or cocoa butter are great alternatives, but be sure there's no alcohol in your lotion — otherwise it'll dry your skin out more and probably sting as you apply it.

Know What You’ll be Doing and What to Bring

While doing your research on attire, check out what you can do around town and at the various beaches you'll be visiting. For instance, you might be staying next to one of the island's best snorkeling beaches and want to participate. If you can, bring your own snorkel with you so you won't have to rent one out (which is pretty gross considering the mouthpiece is used by everyone renting it), nor will you have to purchase your own gear there (which is often more expensive in popular tourist destinations).

Bring a Waterproof Case

You don't necessarily need a waterproof phone case — bringing along a few Ziploc bags should do the trick. Keep your phone and valuables in this bag when you're at the beach or doing any sort of activities near water.

Figure Out Cellphone Service

Before leaving on vacation, call your cellphone provider and find out if the island you're visiting is covered under your plan. You may need to purchase an international plan, but you definitely don't want to discover this while on your trip — or after.

Call Your Credit Card Companies

Call your credit card companies before your vacation and tell them where you'll be. This way when you try using your card at a restaurant (or anywhere for that matter) when you arrive you won't have that embarrassing moment when you're told the card was declined. By giving the credit card company a heads-up about your travels, they won't suspect fraudulent charges and will know not to stop charges from that location.

Bring Rain Gear

The weather on islands tends to change frequently and without much warning. Check the forecast before your vacation and be prepared to deal with light showers in addition to the sun. Pack a rainy day outfit (or two) just in case.

Appropriate Accessories

Be prepared for the heat. In addition to sunscreen, you'll absolutely need to bring a hat and sunglasses. If you forget these accessories you won't be happy, and you might even end up with a face burn outlining your squinting eyes.  

Pack Some Sort of Itch Relief Cream

Islands tend to be breeding grounds for pesky bugs like mosquitoes, so you'll want to have bug repellent and some sort of itch relief cream for when you get bitten (and you will get bitten).