Packing List: Winter Sun Essentials for your Suitcase

If you’re heading off for some winter sun this year, this is our list of winter packing essentials to add to your suitcase!

A woman piles holiday clothes and accessories into a suitcase ready for a winter sun holiday

At this time of year, the cold weather and long nights often turn our minds to booking a summer holiday. But if the idea of waiting until the summer for some sunshine doesn’t appeal, you might be tempted to book a winter trip in warmer climes.

The thought of spending a few days in a warmer climate can be very tempting, whether you prefer lying on a beach or exploring a new city for the first time.

So here are our top winter travel essentials to pop in your suitcase if you’re heading off for a great time in the winter sun.

The Key Takeaways

  • A great swimsuit and coverup are winter sun essentials
  • Travel insurance is a must – ensure you have enough cover for all eventualities
  • Take an extra layer for cooler evenings, and leave a warm jacket in your car
  • Travel toiletries and packing cubes make it easier to pack light for your holiday
  • Don’t forget your sun hat, sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen!

Swimming Costume or Bikini

If you’re planning a beach holiday, the first thing you’ll probably be throwing in your suitcase is your swimsuit or bikini, ready for days lazing by the pool or on the sands.

A navy swim suit with a ruched panel in the front in an abstract blue, orange and white pattern.

Unsurprisingly, there is little choice on the High Street in the winter months. But whether you prefer bikinis or one-piece swimsuits, you’ll have much more luck if you buy a swimsuit online for your winter holiday.

I love this fab swimsuit from John Lewis. The ruched front and curved side panels are very flattering, and it has a colourful abstract print that will look fab on the beach or by the pool. It’s available in sizes 6-24 and will be perfect for any winter sun destination. 

An outfit to travel in

You’re not visiting a cold climate, so you don’t need to pack a full winter wardrobe. But trust me on this – if your flight back home lands late at night and the temperature is sub-zero, it feels even more cold and miserable! 

I find that a good option is to travel out to your winter sun destination in jeans and a t-shirt with an extra outer layer for the journey home. Then make sure there’s a heavy jacket and some warm socks and footwear in your car, ready to throw on when you get back!

A great evening outfit

The cost of living crisis and other economic factors have made us all more money-conscious right now. So, when you’re planning your winter sun holiday wardrobe, you probably want to stretch your budget as far as possible. 

You don’t need to buy a whole new wardrobe, but if it fits into your budget, it’s worth buying one slightly more expensive investment piece that you can put away and wear on future winter holidays. Something like a great dress for evenings out or a fabulous pair of sandals that will stay in style for years. 

This allows you to build a great winter sun holiday wardrobe without breaking the bank, and you can also add them to your summer holiday packing list!

Front and back images of a white kaftan coverup with a diamond pattern running around the neckline, sleeves and down the middle of the front.

Kaftan or Cover-up

A kaftan or coverup is another essential item on your winter sun packing list.

They offer coverage when moving from beach to bar, and picking neutral colours means your coverup won’t clash with your swimwear. A kaftan can shade your shoulders from the afternoon sun, and they’re also handy for visiting public places like museums or art galleries. 

A good quality coverup is practical, flattering, and definitely a must-have for your winter sun holiday.

Shorter kaftans look more informal, like this white crinkle kaftan from John Lewis. The soft fabric and curved hem give it a lovely swing, and it has a diamond pattern lace edging around the neckline and sleeves.

The extra length at the back makes this coverup ideal for relaxing at the end of a day in the sun, so it’s definitely one of your winter sun essentials.

An extra layer

I hate to suggest this, but the weather conditions on your winter sun holiday might not always be perfect. 

Of course, you don’t need to pack for a cold destination with thermal base layers and a warm down jacket. But it’s worth having an extra layer handy for when there’s some light rain or the wind picks up. 

Even if you visit a popular winter sun destination like Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife, the evenings can be a little chilly, so you might welcome some extra warmth.

Adding a long sleeve tee, jersey top or light merino wool cardigan to your winter packing list will only take up a little room in your suitcase but it’ll help you feel more comfortable when the temperature drops.

A middle-aged man and woman planning a holiday together

Travel insurance

The next item on my winter holiday essentials list isn’t as fun as a new bikini or pair of sunglasses, but it might be the most important thing you pack.

Always make sure that you take out travel insurance for your trip. It will cover your medical bills in the event of illness, protect you if your holiday company runs into financial problems or even cover the cost of replacing a stolen mobile phone.

If you tend to travel a few times each year, it usually works out cheaper to take out an annual policy. 

It’s also worth checking that you have the right cover and enough to cover any out-of-the-ordinary expenses. Ever since I got stranded in Portugal when the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted in 2010, I’ve always booked enough cover to be sure we can extend our trip by a week or two if the unexpected happens.

By the way, keeping a copy of important travel documents like your passport and travel insurance securely stored on the cloud is also a good idea. That way, you can always access them from your phone or an internet cafe when they’re needed.

Sun Protection

Sun Protection

One absolute must-have for any winter sun holiday is a good SPF. It’s vital for helping to prevent skin cancer and also helps to protect your skin against the ageing effects of the sun’s UV rays. 

I love this Nivea Sun Protect & Dry Touch Refreshing Sunscreen Mist, which comes in a range of SPFs to suit different skin types. It’s really quick-drying and simple to use – perfect for reaching those awkward spots or quickly topping up sun protection on kids who are eager to get back to playing.

Always remember that you can easily get sunburned on a cloudy day or when you’re sitting under a shade. You’ll need to reapply your sun protection regularly, especially if you’re taking a dip in the sea or pool. It’s also worth packing an SPF lip balm, as the delicate skin of your lips can also get sunburned. 

Soothing After Sun Lotion

These days, we all know how important it is to avoid sunburn. But even if you’re being really careful, spending time in the sun can still dry your skin, so a good after-sun is another winter sun essential for your suitcase.

This Nivea Sun After Sun Tan Prolonging lotion will instantly soothe and cool sun-kissed skin after you’ve enjoyed a day in the sun. It contains Aloe Vera and Hyaluron to keep your skin feeling soft and help you avoid peeling and flaking, so your tan will look better for longer. 

A woman lies on her front with her feet in the air, wearing a white sunhat and reading a book by the poolside

A Sun Hat

If you want to get ahead, get a hat.

Yeah, I know it’s a cliche, but in all seriousness, a sunhat is an essential part of your winter sun wardrobe. Not just because it makes you look fab but also because it can help protect you against sunburn and stop you from squinting in the sun!

Go for a hat with a wide band, which will shade your face and neck from the sun, as well as looking sophisticated!


Don’t forget it’s also essential to protect your eyes on your winter sun holiday!

A good pair of sunglasses doesn’t just make you look stylish on holiday. It’s also an important part of protecting your delicate eyes from UV rays.

Whether you go for outsized celebrity sunglasses, a maverick pair of aviators or a modern minimalist look is up to you. But always be sure to buy sunglasses that offer UV protection, even if that means you have to spend a little more on them.

And if you need to wear glasses to see clearly, don’t worry – these days, you’ll find plenty of great prescription sunglasses, including big brand names.

A Universal Travel adaptor plug

Travel Adaptor

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be taking a lot of electrical equipment on your winter sun holiday. Not just your phone, but maybe a tablet or laptop and your Kindle loaded with holiday reading. Then, of course, there’s your phone charger, your travel hairdryer (this Babyliss travel dryer is excellent) and maybe a set of straighteners.

So don’t forget to check what plug adaptors you need to pack for the destination you’re visiting.

A simple UK-to-Europe plug adaptor will cover your needs if you only holiday in Europe. You can pick them up at the airport as a last resort, but they’ll be much more affordable if you shop ahead of your winter sun holiday.

If you’re going further afield, or travel regularly, it might be worth buying an adaptor that covers countries worldwide. This Universal Travel Adaptor gets good reviews on Amazon and covers 150 countries.

A set of packing cubes in a deep teal colour

Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are a fabulous invention that makes it really easy to pack light for your holiday. These handy compression bags are the best way to keep your clothes organised and make a huge difference to how much you can fit in your suitcase, so it’s easy to find different outfits.

Larger cubes will be great for clothes and beach towels, while the smaller ones are a great way to store toiletries, underwear and electronics.

This 8-piece set of packing cubes also includes a shoe bag and a laundry bag that keeps your clean and worn clothes separate. They’re made from a lightweight nylon which won’t take up too much of your baggage allowance. 

Everything folds up into one of the smaller cubes, so they’re easy to store when you’re back home. The larger cubes have a breathable, see-through top, which makes it easy to take out the clothes for a particular day on a multi-stop holiday. 

And they come in a variety of colours, so you can pick your favourite!

Travel Toiletries

If you don’t want to take up room in your suitcase with full-sized toiletries, it’s worth investing in refillable travel toiletries bottles.

These allow you to only take what you need for your holiday, and really cut down on the weight of your carry-on bag if you’re travelling hand luggage only.

This 16-piece set of travel toiletries containers is made from soft, food-grade silicone, which is also BPA-free. There’s a variety of pots, bottles and tubes to suit all kinds of beauty and skincare products, and the set also includes scrapers, a funnel and a brush for easy cleaning. And it all comes in its own handy bag for easy packing.

A blue and white stripey beach bag with beach accessories in the pockets

Beach Bag

Of course, if you’re heading down to the beach for the day, you’ll need something to carry all your essentials. So, be sure to pack a gorgeous beach bag when heading off for some winter sun.

A straw tote looks fabulous, but it won’t easily fold into your suitcase, although you could carry it as your cabin bag on the plane. 

On the other hand, a cotton beach bag like this one is easy to pack in your suitcase. It will easily carry all your key items, including your book, phone, sunglasses and accessories. It comes in various patterns, but I think this stripey bag could also double as a day bag if you go shopping or sightseeing. 

So now you know all the winter sun packing essentials for your next trip. What else do you pack when you’re escaping the winter weather for some sun?

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