Introduction to Barbados
Barbados, the easternmost Caribbean island, is a paradise that combines colonial charm with modern flair. Its warm tropical climate and fine white-sand beaches make it the perfect destination for those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation.
The island’s culture is heavily influenced by its British colonial past but also draws from its African heritage. Visitors can expect to indulge in delicious food with a West African twist, enjoy the world-renowned rum, and experience the vibrant outfits worn to festivals and holiday events.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a fun-filled family vacation, Barbados has something for everyone.
So let’s get started with the Ultimate Barbados Packing List.
What to bring and how to dress in Barbados
1. Travel documents
If you’re planning a trip to Barbados, there are some essential travel documents you’ll need to have in order to enter and exit the country smoothly.
Firstly, all visitors to Barbados are required to have a valid passport that doesn’t expire within the next six months. US, Canadian, UK, and EU citizens do not need a visa for stays that are less than 6 months.
It’s a good idea to take photos of all your important travel documents, such as your passport, driver’s license, and travel insurance, and store them digitally (I usually just email them to myself so I can access them from anywhere).
I also bring copies of my passport so I don’t have to carry the original with me while exploring the island. Lastly, make sure to pack all necessary medicine and supplements and copies of all prescriptions.
2. Cash and Credit Cards
When traveling to Barbados, carrying both cash and credit cards is recommended for convenience. It is best to carry a combination of both, as not all establishments may accept credit cards.
It is recommended to bring around $500 to $1000 in cash, depending on your length of stay and spending habits.
Try to pay with one of your credit cards as much as possible (one that does not have international transaction fees) and keep a small amount of cash on hand.
Keep most of your cash, credit cards, and important documents in the hotel safe. It is also recommended to bring anti-theft bags or neck wallets to keep your items safe.
The official currency in Barbados is the Barbadian Dollar, but most vendors and establishments also accept US Dollars. The exchange rate for USD to BBD is about 1:2.
It is recommended to exchange currency at a local bank or authorized exchange bureau for a fair exchange rate. Avoid exchanging currency at the airport or in tourist areas, as they may offer unfavorable rates.
3. Drivers license
If you plan on renting a car in Barbados, having a valid driver’s license from your home country is important. Here are some key things to keep in mind:
- Drive on the left-hand side of the road.
- Speed limits are in kilometers per hour, with a maximum of 60 km/h in urban areas and 80 km/h on highways.
- Seat belts are required for both drivers and passengers.
- Drinking and driving are strictly prohibited and enforced, don’t do it!
- You may encounter roundabouts, which can take some getting used to if you’re not used to driving on the left.
When packing for a trip to Barbados, it’s important to include at least two flattering swimsuits, as you’ll be spending a lot of time soaking up the sun on the island’s many beautiful beaches.
Ladies bring lightweight cover-ups, like kaftans or midi dresses; they are essential for a casual yet stylish look when you’re not in the water. Keep in mind that heavy items will take longer to dry due to the humidity, so choose lightweight and quick-drying materials.
Lastly, remember that swimwear should only be worn on the beach, so be sure to cover up and bring appropriate attire for other activities or cultural experiences.
Flip-flops are a must-have for any trip to Barbados. They are easy to pack and perfect for the beach or boat. When choosing flip-flops, make sure they are comfortable and durable enough to last the entire vacation.
Flip-flops can be worn during the day and into the night, but remember that some restaurants and bars may have dress codes prohibiting them. When visiting cultural or religious sites, it’s important to dress modestly and remove your shoes before entering.
Overall, flip-flops are a versatile and practical choice for any traveler to Barbados.
Clip-On Baseball Cap Holder
6. Sunscreen and suntan lotion
When visiting Barbados, protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays is crucial. Applying sunscreen with a high SPF level is essential, especially when exploring the island, fishing, or swimming.
Look for products that protect against both UVA and UVB rays and have a triple +++ rating for the best protection. Reapply every 20-30 minutes, especially if you’ll be out in the sun for extended periods.
If you are looking for a nice, even tan without burning, suntan lotion is an absolute necessity.
Don’t forget to pack a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes as well. Bringing after-sun cream to nourish your skin after a day in the sun is also a good idea. Remember to stay hydrated and bring plenty of water with you.
When packing for a trip to Barbados, it’s important to bring a hat that protects you from the sun’s rays and matches your style. Wide-brimmed hats made of breathable materials like straw or canvas are perfect for keeping you cool and protected all day long.
Don’t be afraid to choose a hat with patterns or colors that can spice up your outfit without going overboard. Pairing it with sunscreen and sunglasses will ensure maximum sun protection. Don’t forget to bring a light jacket or shawl to cover up in the evenings, and rainwear just in case.
8. Clothing for the weather
When packing for a trip to Barbados, it’s important to keep the tropical weather in mind. Lightweight, breathable fabrics like cotton and linen are ideal for staying cool in warm temperatures. For the beach, pack swimwear, a beach cover-up, and flip-flops.
Opt for casual daywear like shorts, t-shirts, and sneakers for outdoor activities. A light jacket or shawl is essential for cooler evenings, and rainwear is also necessary as showers can strike unexpectedly.
Smart casual pieces like linen trousers or skirts paired with breezy blouses and tailored jackets are a great choice for dinner.
Related Article: Top Barbados Travel Tips.
9. Nighttime and evening attire
When it comes to evenings and nightlife in Barbados, the dress code is generally smart casual.
Ladies can opt for short summer sundresses and pair them with a pashmina or wrap for cooler nights. A light jacket or cardigan is also a good idea to bring along.
For men, collared shirts and dress pants are appropriate for nicer venues.
Lastly, a few accessories or pieces of jewelry can transform any outfit.
When traveling to Barbados, it’s important to pack comfortable and stylish shoes that are appropriate for various activities.
For beach lounging, flip-flops or durable sandals are a must.
For hiking, pack a pair of comfortable trainers or walking shoes with cushioned soles and adjustable laces.
When dining out, heeled sandals can add glamour to an outfit. It’s important to pack multifunctional shoes to save space in your luggage.
Instead of packing multiple pairs, opt for one pair of flip-flops and one pair of flats that can be worn during the day and into the night.
Pack shoes that are easy to slip on and off for beach activities. Avoid packing fancy clothes and high heels as the island is casual.
11. Bag for beach essentials
When packing for a day at the beach in Barbados, it’s important to keep things light and functional. Here are some must-have items to consider:
- Sunscreen: protect your skin from the strong Caribbean sun.
- Towel: a lightweight beach towel is essential for lounging on the sand.
- Swimwear: pack a bathing suit so you can take a dip in the crystal clear waters.
- Hat and sunglasses: protect your face and eyes from the sun’s rays.
- Beach bag: choose a lightweight bag with multiple compartments to keep everything organized.
- Water bottle: stay hydrated with safe, filtered water.
- Phone bunjee: keep your phone safe from loss, theft, and damage.
Remember to keep things light and pack only what you need to enjoy a day in paradise!
Explore the Best Beach in Barbados.
Bring toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash, moisturizer, and your favorite makeup products.
Other important items include a toothbrush, toothpaste, disposable razor, hair brush, and comb. If needed, remember to pack feminine products and try menstrual cups for added convenience.
While many resorts provide basic toiletries, it’s always a good idea to bring your own preferred products. Consider buying travel-sized items to save space, and bring a hanging toiletry bag for easy access.
Lastly, don’t forget the small details like lip balm. They even make SPF lip balm for more sun protection.
13. Insect repellent
When visiting Barbados, it’s important to pack insect repellent due to the presence of mosquitoes and sandflies, which can cause itchy and uncomfortable bites.
Mosquito bites can also transmit diseases such as dengue fever, chikungunya, and Zika virus. To protect yourself, choose a repellent with natural ingredients that is safe for both you and the environment.
Additionally, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants in the evenings and using mosquito nets in your accommodations can also help prevent bites.
Remember to follow the size restrictions for carry-on luggage and leave bug spray in checked baggage.
14. Snorkel and fins
If you plan on snorkeling in Barbados, and you should, there are a few essential items you’ll want to bring along.
First and foremost, make sure to pack a good-quality mask and snorkel.
Additionally, fins can greatly enhance your snorkeling experience by allowing you to swim more efficiently and comfortably. For protection from the sun and to enhance visibility underwater, bring reef-safe sunscreen and an anti-fog solution for your mask.
Remember to always respect the marine environment and its inhabitants by not touching or disturbing them. Happy snorkeling!
15. Underwater camera
If you’re going to swim, snorkel, or scuba dive, you might as well film it, so don’t forget to pack your underwater camera! With the island’s crystal-clear waters, colorful marine life, and stunning coral reefs, there are plenty of opportunities to capture some amazing underwater shots.
And don’t forget to pack additional memory cards and a waterproof case to keep your camera safe and secure.
So, get ready to explore the island’s vibrant marine life and create some unforgettable memories!
Clip-On Baseball Cap Holder
Packaging a raincoat when visiting Barbados is important, especially if you plan on traveling during the rainy season, which lasts from July to December.
A lightweight raincoat or travel umbrella can protect you from sudden downpours and keep you dry while exploring the city.
Opt for a windproof and waterproof raincoat that won’t take up too much space in your luggage, and consider layering it over a light jacket or sweater for added warmth.
Don’t let the rain ruin your trip – pack a raincoat and enjoy all Barbados offers!
17. Travel umbrella
Barbados is a tropical island that can experience heavy rainfall from July to December, so it’s always a good idea to pack a windproof travel umbrella. It will keep you dry during unexpected rain showers and provide shade during sunny days and protect you from strong winds on the beach.
When choosing a travel umbrella, look for one that is compact and lightweight for easy packing and carrying. With a travel umbrella, you’ll be prepared for any weather and can enjoy your trip to Barbados without any interruptions.
18. Quick-dry beach towel
A quick-dry beach towel is essential to pack when traveling to Barbados. Most hotels and resorts provide beach towels, but they are big and bulky, so if you plan a day trip, pack your quick dry towel.
When choosing a towel, look for lightweight and compact options that are easy to pack. Microfiber or polyester materials are ideal as they dry quickly and are easy to care for.
With a quick-dry beach towel, you can enjoy all the water activities Barbados has to offer without carrying a huge wet towel around.
19. Reusable water bottle
When traveling to Barbados, staying hydrated is crucial, especially in the tropical climate. Bringing a reusable water bottle can be a game-changer for your trip.
Not only does it save you from constantly buying plastic water bottles, but it also helps reduce the amount of single-use plastic that could potentially pollute the island.
The tap water in Barbados is safe to drink, but I recommend refining your water bottle at the hotel reception. They all provide clean, filtered water for everyone.
By bringing a reusable water bottle, you can keep yourself hydrated while being mindful of waste and the environment.
20. Books or eReader
Let’s be honest, there is nothing better than a good book on the beach. If you’re looking for some reading material to enhance your trip, consider packing books that delve into the island’s past and present:
- “To Hell with Paradise: A History of the Caribbean” by Gareth Jenkins is a great choice for those interested in the region’s history. It provides an in-depth look at the Caribbean’s origins, colonial past, and modern-day politics.
- “A Small Place” by Jamaica Kincaid is another must-read. The book is a powerful essay that explores the effects of colonialism on the Caribbean and its people.
- For a more lighthearted read, “Barbados Bound” by Linda Collison is a fun travelogue that takes you on a journey through the island.
- If you don’t have the luggage space, get an eReader. You can download “Fodor’s InFocus Barbados & St Lucia” for a comprehensive guide on the island’s culture, history, and geography.
Whatever you choose to read, make sure to take some time to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery Barbados has to offer.
21. Chargers and travel adapters
Barbados carries Type A and B power plugs (US standard) and sockets; the standard voltage is 115V. If you’re traveling from the US, no adapter is needed as the outlets are the same in Barbados.
However, a universal adapter is necessary if you’re traveling from the UK or Europe. If your devices are not compatible with our sockets or voltage, you may run the risk of damaging your battery.
And don’t forget the all-important charges to keep all your devices topped up: Phone charger and cable, eReader charger, GoPro Charger, wireless headphones, and more.
22. In-flight essentials
When traveling to Barbados, it’s important to pack some in-flight essentials to make your journey comfortable and convenient.
Bring noise-canceling headphones to block out any unwanted noise, a neck pillow and eye mask to help you rest, and a good book to keep you entertained.
Dress comfortably in breathable clothing appropriate for the tropical climate, but remember that airports and airplanes are pretty cold, so have a hoodie on hand.
Keep your travel documents, medications, and snacks in your carry-on bag in case of any delays or lost luggage.
Related article: The Top Places to Visit in the Caribbean.
23. Optional Extras - if you have the space
If you have extra space in your luggage, consider bringing some optional extras to enhance your Barbados experience:
- Small first-aid kit
- Travel laundry bag
- Car charger
- SPF chapstick
- Disinfectant wipes
- Hand sanitizer
Tips for having the best experience in Barbados
1. Consider what activities you'll be doing
When packing for your trip to Barbados, it’s important to consider the activities you’ll be doing to ensure that you have all the necessary items.
- For snorkeling adventures, don’t forget to pack your snorkeling gear to explore the coral reefs.
- If you plan on hiking through the island’s lush interior, make sure to bring sturdy hiking shoes.
- For a day spent lounging on the beach, pack at least two unique bathing suits and a lightweight beach towel.
- For sightseeing, opt for comfortable and breathable clothing like jeans or casual slacks and lightweight t-shirts.
- Don’t forget to bring a lightweight, smart jacket and a pair of formal shoes for dressy/formal occasions.
- Rain gear if traveling in the rainy season.
Related Article: Things to do in Barbados.
2. Wear comfortable clothing
When visiting Barbados, it’s important to pack comfortable and breathable clothing for warm temperatures. Opt for cotton or linen fabrics in casual daywear like jeans or slacks paired with lightweight t-shirts.
Smart casual outfits with tailored jackets and breezy blouses are perfect for dinner, while formal events call for evening gowns. Don’t forget to bring a light jacket or shawl for cooler evenings and rainwear for unexpected showers.
A pair of comfortable sandals and a wide-brimmed hat are essential for daytime activities, and a flattering bathing suit with a cover-up is a must for the beach.
Finally, remember to pack a statement belt, cardigan, and small crossbody purse for added style and convenience. Keep in mind that Barbados is a casual island, so leave the high heels and fancy clothes at home to blend in with the locals.
3. Pack light
Packing light is crucial to ensure a stress-free and enjoyable experience. With temperatures in the 80’s and 90’s F (25-35 C), packing lightweight layers such as shorts and t-shirts is a must.
Additionally, bringing complete outfits that can be mixed and matched will streamline the packing process and save space in your luggage. Don’t forget to leave room for souvenirs on the way home!
4. Bring a day-trip backpack
A day-trip backpack is an essential item to bring when traveling to Barbados. It allows you to carry all your sightseeing essentials, such as sunscreen, water, and a towel, without having to lug around a heavy suitcase.
Additionally, it provides a safe place to store your valuables while exploring the island. Opt for a lightweight and spacious bag with plenty of pockets to keep your items organized.
With a day-trip backpack, you can enjoy your adventures in Barbados with ease and comfort.
5. Bring a water bottle and snacks
When traveling to Barbados, staying hydrated and nourished is important to enjoy the island’s activities fully.
Bringing a reusable water bottle is a great way to stay hydrated and reduce plastic waste.
Snacks are also essential for sustaining energy throughout the day. Pack non-perishable options like granola bars, trail mix, and dried fruits.
If you are on a trip and get frustrated and “hangry”, take a break, have some snacks, and drink some water; you will feel so much better.
6. Safety and security
Barbados is a beautiful holiday destination and is considered very safe for a Caribbean island. To have a safe trip, stick to the tourist areas and use your best judgment. Don’t walk alone in dimly lit areas at night and stay with your group or family.
Here are my top safety tips for a wonderful Caribbean vacation:
- Keep an eye on your belongings at all times to avoid theft and pickpocketing
- Keep your valuables in zipped pockets inside or on the back of your bag or backpack
- Don’t leave your belongings unattended on the beach
- Keep a picture and a copy of your travel documents, and also email them to yourself
- Keep some emergency cash separate from your main cash in the hotel safe
- Ask for prices and negotiate before starting any activity or taxi ride
- Inform your family and friends of your travel plans, hotel name, and flight, and send them updates every day
What clothing should I pack for Barbados?
Barbados is a tropical paradise, and packing for a trip there requires some thought. Lightweight fabrics like linen or cotton are good choices, as they will keep you comfortable all day long.
For women, breathable clothing and a swimsuit cover-up or no-iron shirt for beach restaurants are ideal. Comfy walking shoes are essential because you will do lots of walking. Don’t forget to pack a sweater or jacket for when the sun goes down.
Men should pack a comfy pair of shorts, t-shirts for walking around town, and a polo shirt for visiting historical landmarks or eating in a nice sit-down restaurant. A cardigan, jacket, and pair of long pants are also necessary for chilly evenings.
For a week-long trip, pack two to three swimsuits or bikinis, some day and night clothes. Light formal wear may be required for some restaurants. Stick to casual and comfortable clothing, and you will be ready for some fun in the sun!
What type of shoes should I wear in Barbados?
Barbados has a tropical climate with year-round temperatures, making comfortable and breathable clothing essential. Good walking shoes, sunglasses, and a hat are also important.
For beach activities, sandals or flip-flops are ideal, while a pair of trainers or walking shoes with cushioned soles and adjustable laces are recommended for hiking or walking around the downtown tourist areas.
For evenings out, women can wear heeled sandals while men can opt for a pair of Toms. Overall, multifunctional shoes that balance comfort and style are the best option for a Barbados vacation.
What to bring back from Barbados?
Barbados offers a treasure trove of unique items that make perfect souvenirs and gifts. Here are some top picks to bring back from your island getaway:
Rum: Barbados is known for its exceptional rum. Bringing back a bottle of local rum like Mount Gay or Cockspur is a must for a taste of the island’s rich history.
Bajan Hot Sauce: For a spicy memento, pick up some Bajan hot sauce. It’s a flavorful reminder of the island’s cuisine.
Local Art and Craft: Support local artisans by purchasing handcrafted items such as pottery, jewelry, or paintings that reflect the island’s culture and beauty.
Spices and Seasonings: Bajan seasonings and spices are perfect for recreating the flavors of Barbados at home.
Conch Shell Decor: Beautifully crafted conch shell souvenirs make for a decorative reminder of the beautiful Barbadian beaches.
Mahogany Carvings: The island’s skilled craftsmen create stunning mahogany carvings, which make elegant home decorations or gifts.
Each of these items captures the essence of Barbados, offering a tangible and memorable piece of your Caribbean experience to take home.
What type of luggage should I bring to Barbados?
Small hand luggage or a small suitcase is sufficient for a trip to Barbados, along with a day bag as carry-on luggage. Packing cubes are a great way to organize your luggage and make packing and unpacking a breeze.
Packaging at least one change of clothes, PJs, and basic toiletries in your carry-on is recommended in case your checked bag gets lost.
Airlines typically allow one free checked bag for international travel, so it is best to pack light. It is important to check size and weight restrictions for both carry-on and checked luggage and any prohibited items.
What type of sunscreen should I bring to Barbados?
When traveling to Barbados, it’s important to bring broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher to protect your skin from the strong tropical sun.
The sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours and more often if swimming or sweating. Water resistance is also important, especially if planning to spend time in the ocean.
Having sunscreen that is safe for coral reefs is recommended if you plan on snorkeling, as Barbados is known for its beautiful coral reefs.
Additionally, it’s important to bring lip balm with SPF and to wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses for extra sun protection.
What type of insect repellent should I bring to Barbados?
When traveling to Barbados, it is important to bring insect repellent to protect yourself from mosquitoes and sandflies.
However, bug spray may not be allowed in checked or carry-on baggage, so keep it in your checked bag or buy it locally.
It is recommended to pack or purchase Repel Insect Repellent, which uses natural ingredients to keep you and the environment safe. This repellent is also effective against bugs and has a pleasant scent.
Can you take food in your suitcase to Barbados?
If you’re considering bringing food in your suitcase to Barbados, it’s important to be aware of the local customs regulations to ensure a smooth entry.
Here’s what you need to know:
Permitted Items: Packaged, non-perishable food items like snacks, chocolates, and canned goods are generally allowed. These items should be in their original, unopened packaging.
Restrictions: Fresh produce, meat, and dairy products are typically subject to strict regulations due to health and environmental concerns. These items may be prohibited or require special permits.
Declare All Food Items: Upon arrival, you must declare any food items in your possession. Failing to do so can result in fines or confiscation of the items.
Packaging and Quantity: Ensure that all food items are securely packed and in reasonable quantities for personal use. Excessive amounts might raise concerns about the intent of import.
Check Latest Guidelines: Regulations can change, so it’s wise to check the latest guidelines from the Barbados customs authority or consult with your airline before traveling.
By following these guidelines, you can avoid potential issues at customs and enjoy your trip to Barbados with your preferred snacks and food items.
What to wear in Barbados at night?
Dressing for nights in Barbados combines comfort with a touch of island style. Here’s your guide to fitting in perfectly with the nighttime vibe:
Smart Casual for Dining Out: Most restaurants in Barbados prefer a smart casual dress code. For women, a summer dress or a blouse with a skirt or trousers works well. Men can opt for collared shirts and chinos or stylish shorts.
Light Fabrics: The Caribbean climate is warm even at night, so choose breathable fabrics like cotton or linen to stay comfortable.
Footwear: While flip-flops are common during the day, evenings call for a slightly dressier approach. Sandals for women and loafers for men are appropriate for most settings.
A Light Sweater or Shawl: Occasionally, the evenings can get breezy, especially by the beach, so it’s a good idea to carry something light to cover up.
Accessories: Embrace island flair with colorful accessories. However, keep it simple and avoid anything too flashy for comfort and security.
Beach Parties and Clubs: For more casual or beachfront nightspots, feel free to dress more relaxed. Trendy tops, shorts, and summer dresses are all suitable.
This wardrobe guide will ensure you enjoy Barbados’ vibrant nightlife in style and comfort, blending in seamlessly with the island’s laid-back yet stylish ambiance.
Also read: My Favorite Places to Travel.
What can't you wear in Barbados to respect the local culture?
While Barbados is known for its relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, being mindful of local customs regarding dress is important for respectful travel. Here are clothing items and styles to avoid:
Camouflage Clothing: Wearing camouflage or military-style clothing is illegal in Barbados for anyone, including children. This law is strictly enforced, as these patterns are reserved for the Barbados Defence Force.
Overly Revealing Clothing in Public Spaces: While beachwear is perfectly acceptable on the beaches, wearing bikinis, swim trunks, or overly revealing clothes in streets, shops, or restaurants is frowned upon. Opt for a cover-up or more conservative attire when away from the beach.
Excessively Casual or Ragged Clothing in Formal Settings: For dining in upscale restaurants, attending church, or visiting government buildings, avoid too casual or unkempt clothing. Smart casual or formal wear is more appropriate in these settings.
Heavy Jewelry and Flashy Items: For safety and to respect the modesty in local customs, it’s advisable to wear minimal jewelry and avoid ostentatious accessories.
By avoiding these clothing items, visitors can show respect for Barbadian culture and norms, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable visit for everyone.
What type of weather should I expect in Barbados?
Barbados has a tropical climate with consistent temperatures ranging from the high 70’s to 80’s F (25-35 C) all year round.
The best time to visit is during the dry season from December to May, which has lower humidity and less rain.
The hottest months are May to August, with an average temperature of 82 F.
The rainy season lasts from June to November, with heavy rains expected daily and high humidity levels. Visitors should pack an umbrella, good water shoes, and cooling towels.
Dress comfortably for the laid-back beach vibe, and wear breathable clothing for tours.
Despite the rain, the wet season is still a good time to visit, with ample sun and beautiful beaches to enjoy.
Made by travelers, for travelers, check out the Barefoot Caribou Products below!
Your 2023 Barbados Packing List
Now that you know what to bring on your trip to Barbados start packing! And don’t forget to leave a comment below to let us know what you’re most excited about for your trip.