Bathing Suits, Swimsuits, Sarongs to Pack for Travel
Bathing Suits are one of the most overlooked parts of a travel wardrobe, yet one of the most critical. It is SO MUCH EASIER to have a bathing suit in your carryon even if it turns out you DON'T need it than to have to go out and buy one if it turns out you DO need it.
Sometimes our checked luggage does not arrive with us at our destination. Sometimes it's our fault, sometimes it's the airlines' fault, so pack at least one swimsuit in your carryon bag.
One trip, my luggage finally arrived on the evening of Day 4 of a 5-day trip. But by packing my swimsuits in my carryon, I was able to take advantage of the hot tub and beach.
Bathing Suits: How Many To Pack
Bathing suits are small, lightweight, and take up little room in a suitcase or backpack, so you can pack more than one, especially if you are traveling to a resort or beach destination where you know you will be in and out of the water all day long.
And don't forget put at least one suit in your carry on bag. Pack it in a resealable plastic bag -- the plastic baggie is good for packing wet bathing suits when it's time to go.
- One : If you are on a business trip, or going to a non-resort sun destination, one suit will likely be enough to pack.
- Two or More: If you are staying at a resort where you may be in and out of the water several times a day, and at different times (morning dip, afternoon swim, evening cool-off), then pack two or three bathing suits. It's nice to get into a dry, clean swimsuit, and not nice to sit around in a damp one for hours.
- 'Good' Bathing Suit: If one of your bathing suits is new, expensive, etc. then bring along another not-so-special swimsuit for wearing in the chlorine pool or chemical hot tub. Why ruin a good suit? Keep your best swimsuit for ocean and lake swimming.
Think for a moment about when you last bought bathing suits:
- You had to be in the mood to try on a gazillion bathing suits once you finally sorted through dozens of 'possibles', all of them falling off hangers or with tags intertwined so you couldn't get it off the rack. I'm tired just thinking about it :-)
- Then you had to be in the right frame of mind in the first place -- prepared to have your self-esteem take a hit under terrible lighting with your underwear showing under the bathing suits as well as the usual fit issues.
- Never mind that sizing and fit vary wildly among swimsuit designers! You keep trying on swimsuits in various sizes, and hope they have the right one. You can spend an hour and still not be totally happy with your purchase.
Buying a Bathing Suit When on a Trip.
Now imagine you are on holiday, at a nice resort or at a hotel that has a pool or hot tub (Jacuzzi). Or your business contacts have invited you to a barbecue around their swimming pool.
If you've packed your swimsuit in your carryon luggage, you have options: to swim, soak or not. But if you don't have any bathing suits with you, you don't.
Yes, you can rush out and go through the entire 'Buy Bathing Suits' exercise in a strange city. In unfamiliar stores. Think of how much time this will take out of your holiday. Simply not worth it, IMHO.
And yes, this happened to me in Guadalajara Mexico. My bathing suits were somewhere in Mexico City in my 'lost' luggage and I had to go out and buy a new suit. I gave up, defeated, and waited a few days for my bags to show up.
Bathing Suits at the Spa
I love to try out spas when I travel, so when in Sri Lanka, a few appointments at an ayurvedic spa was a must-do. What I didn't know was that ayurvedic massages call for copious amounts of almond oil. Lovely to feel on your skin, lovely to smell, but still very oily. And the shower was back in my room.
On the second spa visit, we got smart: We wore our bathing suits to the spa and wrapped a hotel towel around our waists as a coverup. It was so much easier to rinse out our well-oiled bathing suits in the shower than to launder oily clothes.
TIP Rinse out bathing suits and dry each day with shampoo. It's great for removing body oils and sunscreen. Or pack a small package of powdered detergent.
One Piece or Two Piece bathing Suits
Depending on personal taste and style, you can pack either all one piece or two piece swimsuits (bikini or tankini), or some of each. But consider where you will be wearing it, and how easy it is to 'use the facilities' when you need to.
Here's what I mean: For a day trip to Dominican Republic waterfalls, we had the option of taking a dip in the waterfalls pools. We were told to wear our bathing suits as there are no change rooms at the Falls. Fine.
But at several points during an all-day bus tour, you'll need to use the restroom at some point, and if you are wearing a one-piece bathing suit, it's a lot more involved to use the restroom. A two piece bathing suit (tankini, bikini) makes it much easier.
I can't praise sarongs (also called pareos) highly enough as a travel wardrobe powerhouse starting with wearing one as a bathing suit cover up.
Sarongs, like those shown in the picture, hanging on a line in Costa Rica, are lightweight, roll up into a small sausage or can be folded into a small square and tucked into carry-on or checked luggage.
Some sarongs are large, and can be worn as a long skirt or robe. Smaller ones are great for coverups or shawls. The full size sarongs seem to be the most versatile.
Most sarongs are made from rayon, and are fast-drying, depending on the weight of the fabric. They last for a long time and make a great souvenir. I've never paid more than $10 US for a local market shop sarong.
Here's what sarongs add to a travel wardrobe:
- A sarong can be worn as a robe, bathing suit cover up and sleepwear.
- Take your sarong to the beach and use as a blanket or towel.
- On a chilly summer night, wear a sarong as a shawl or a long skirt.
- If it's long enough, tie around your neck and wear as a sundress!
- As a robe (coverup) if going through the hotel to swim in indoor pool, put on your swimsuit, wrap the sarong around your waist, and you're good to go in the elevator.
- And of course, a friend can hold up a sarong as a privacy curtain should you need to change on the beach, or use a semi-public restroom (squat toilets).
In my opinion, Sarongs worn as dresses suit full-figured women best, and alas, I am not one. A full-length sarong worn as a sundress (wrapped and tied around my neck) makes me look like a colorful sausage: no curves at all. But I use it a lot as a wrap skirt, cover-up and shawl, as well as a robe.
Make a bathing suit cover up from a sarong:
I've made several bathing suit cover ups from sarongs. Fold the sarong in half crosswise, matching finished edges, then stitch each side from bottom to about 8 inches below the fold to allow for arm hole openings. Cut a narrow slit out of the center of the fold for a boat-neck opening, and finish the raw edge with some bias tape. A great travel or beach top!
Sarongs are usually inexpensive, made of light, fast-drying rayon, and readily available in resort areas and hot climates like to the Dominican Republic.