Planning a trip to the Philippines but not sure what you should pack? Based on my trip to Boracay, here’s a guide on what you’ll need to take with you to have a great time on your holiday to this beautiful part of the world.
What should I pack?
Clothes – The key is to pack light and, as it’s going to be warm, pack clothing that is light and breathable. Think things like:
Cotton shorts // singlet tops // cotton, breathable t-shirts // long-sleeve shirts to pull over your swimmers when you’re on a boat to protect you from the sun
Cotton dresses // sarong // wrap skirt // long or billowy cotton skirts // denim shorts // hats
Pack more than one set of swimwear, so you have a dry set to wear while your wet ones from yesterday are drying. I made sure I packed lots of basics, like white and grey t-shirts and singlet tops, but packed brightly coloured or patterned skirts and shorts to help me mix things up. I don’t really buy a lot of brand new clothes, so if you’re like me you might want to do what I do and visit your local Op-Shop or thrift store. It’s a great place to pick up some vintage, pre-loved cotton skirts.
Watch: our video “What it’s really like in Boracay…”
Shoes – You’ll do most of your walking on uneven paved streets, sand or in the shallows of the water (getting on and off boats). So I packed only sandals and other flat shoes. I packed my tan sandals from Wittner, because they go with everything. I also packed my glitzy sandals from Holster because I wanted to wear shoes that were a bit nicer to dinner, but still needed them to be comfortable and beach appropriate.
Make-up – It was really hot when I was there (November) and I found putting on a full face of make-up was a losing battle, cos as soon as I got outside the heat hit me and I began to sweat and it all ran off my face. Gross. If you can, go without make-up altogether and let that salty sea water cleanse your skin. If you do need make-up, use light make-up with sunscreen in it. I use Nude by Nature‘s 5 in 1 BB Cream and love it. Light, quick to put on and has natural sunscreen in it (I still wear a 50+ face sunscreen underneath).
Sun-smart gear – You’ll definitely need a hat and sunscreen with high SPF to protect you from sunburn. I always recommend the Cancer Council’s sunscreen as you know it’s good quality. Remember, sunscreen is only as good as its user and it’s up to you to reapply during the day to ensure you don’t get burned. Similarly, a rash-shirt or sun-shirt is a good idea too. Remember, cloudy days mean U.V rays! Don’t be deceived if there’s no sun, you can still burn.
Umbrella – Pack a small umbrella to help you avoid getting saturated, and having your phone and camera get saturated too, during an afternoon downpour. A very small umbrella you can tuck in your day bag and carry around with you all day would be ideal.
Day pack – You’re going to need a bag to put all your essentials in for a day of sightseeing. Guys might like to take a backpack, women might like to take something else. Just make sure whatever you take has a sturdy zip on it and is a bag you can feel comfortably safe with as there may be pickpockets around in heavily touristy areas. If you’re visiting Manila or similar areas, consider a very sturdy day bag as there does tend to be more pickpocket related crimes. You can read more of my top safety tips for travellers here.
Camera gear – Pack your camera gear, the good stuff, because honestly you’re going to want to take a million photos. I also recommend packing your tripod as there are some truly beautiful places you’ll want to capture to the very best of your ability. Consider packing a spare memory card and spare camera battery as well.
Medicine – Bring a small bag packed full of essential medicines with you, bring things like cold and flu tablets, hay fever/allergy medicine, ibuprofen, paracetamol, tumms and Imodium. You should also definitely pack your prescription medicines and anything special you may require, like a ventolin inhaler for asthmatics. It’s important to be prepared, just in case you’re struck down with a tummy bug or sudden cold get and stuck in your room.
Tissues – Pocket packs of tissues should be carried with you at all times as you may find yourself visiting a toilet stall then realising the toilet paper is kept out near the hand basins… uh oh! In some places you have to pay for toilet paper too, so best to have your own supply on you in case you don’t have enough change.
Deodorant – The Philippines can be very humid and no matter what time of year you visit, it’s still going to be lovely and warm. Pack a good, heavy-duty deodorant to help control that stank.
Your essentials – Pack your beloved brand-name essentials like cosmetics, electric toothbrush heads and feminine hygiene products. Also, pack your environmentally friendly products and products for sensitive skin, as it may be difficult to get your hands on these while you travel. Don’t waste money on travel minis, use refillable bottles instead.
Waterproof case or bag – Pack a waterproof case or bag for your phone, camera and other valuables to save them getting wet on the beach or if you get caught in an afternoon downpour. I went kayaking with a group once and we had to abandon our kayaks and swim through a cave, I felt a lot better knowing my valuables were safe from water in a plastic container.
Skin-care products – With all the sunscreen, sun and salt water, I found my skin was a bit dry at the end of the day. A while ago I got sent a whole bunch of beauty products from all-natural New Zealand brand, Antipodes Skincare. Honestly, I love them and my skin loves them! For the Philippines, the Hallelujah Lime & Patchouli Cleanser, Apostle Skin Brightening Serum and Divine Face Oil are absolutely perfect. They replenish your skin after a big day out in the elements.
Hand sanitiser – Uh oh, I hate to be that tourist, but hand sanitizer is essential no matter where you are, even if you’re in your home town. You never know when you’ll unexpectedly touch something sticky, hairy, wriggly or gross, so be prepared and have some hand sanitiser with you.
Wet wipes – A small pocket-pack of wet wipes can be a blessing, especially when you’ve just slathered sunscreen and mosquito repellent all over your body and you can’t find a sink to wash your hands. Not just that, but it’s humid in the Philippines so you may want to freshen up a little and get all that sticky-ickyness off you.
My packing tips and travel hacks
Power board – As freelancers, we travel with a lot of electronics so we can work on the road. This can mean two laptops, an iPad, two phones, a camera and a GoPro! If this sounds like you too, then you’re going to need more than one power point. Buy one power-point converter and take a power-board with multiple plug-ins on it. It makes life so much easier!
Plastic bags – Stash some large plastic grocery bags and small sandwich bags in your luggage, they come in so very handy for storing dirty shoes and clothes as well as bars of soap, wet swimwear or leaky toothpaste tubes!
Tupperware – I use Tupperware or similar clear, hard plastic containers to organise my luggage. I use a separate small container for toiletries, jewellery and electronics like adaptors, cords and chargers. It keeps me organised and stops me from losing things! This also ensure no leaks will destroy my clean clothes and makes it really easy for me to grab it in one easy swoop, keep thing together in the hotel and makes re-packing easier too.
Dryer sheets – Put dryer sheets in your suitcase to keep your clothes smelling good throughout the whole trip, easy! No more musty smelling clothes for you, my friend.
Trackstick II – The Trackstick II is so very cool and will appeal to the nerdy data types out there (i.e. my husband). It’s a GPS receiver the size of a memory stick, it can be used to track your every step for weeks! Take it with you in your pocket and you’ll have a satellite album of your travels. You can see where you’ve been, shown via a red line that is traced on satellite photos and 3D terrain. Told you it was cool. It continuously records its exact route, stop times, speed, direction and other valuable information, all of which is easily downloaded to your computer.
Watch: our “Bali for first-timers” video
Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.