Even the best-laid vacation plans can be easily dashed by something as simple as forgetting to pack the signature comforts and small necessities that you, well, need. Frustratingly, it always seems to be the obvious, everyday things that you use all the time that get left out of the suitcase, and consequently left behind. It’s especially frustrating when you’re traveling to a new destination like the Southwest and you’re not clear what the packing essentials should be. But don’t worry—we’ve come up with this handy list to ensure that exact scenario doesn’t happen. Whether you’re planning a visit to the Grand Canyon, the Red Rocks of Sedona or enjoying the glittering charm of the Arizona cities, here is a list of everything you need to pack for your Arizona vacation.
Sunscreen, Sun Hat and Sunglasses
First things first, you only need to have experienced the Arizona sun one time before you realize how strong it really is. Hiking, walking through trails and laying by the pool all require protection from the sun, especially the Arizona sun. Pack a wide-brimmed hat, which is preferable over a baseball cap, to cover your entire face. Make sure you pack sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher over any exposed skin, including the back of your neck. Lastly, don’t forget to protect your eyes from the Arizona sunshine with sunglasses. Polarized lens will help you see views more clearly. Purchase sunglass straps if you plan to be on the water – it can be frustrating watching your new sunglasses float downstream or from the edge of the Grand Canyon without you.
Layers of Clothing
The Arizona desert temperatures can fluctuate 30-40 degrees in one day, so be sure to pack light layers for daytime and others that will keep you warm in the evenings, including a winter hat, when the sun sets and cooler air moves in. At the top of the rim, average summer temps can be in the 80s F during the day and drop to the 50s at night. However, temperatures by the river at the bottom of the canyon can exceed 100F and even reaching 120F. Be prepared with the right equipment and by being extremely well-hydrated. In addition to the layers of clothes, we strongly recommend packing a light jacket or coat, especially if you’re visiting the Grand Canyon. On the flipside, if you’re visiting during the spring and summer months make sure you pack plenty of light clothing such as shorts, light shirts, and plenty of weightless summer dresses.
Water + Snacks
You’re in the desert, so the first thing you should make sure to purchase plenty of (once you land of course) is H2O. One of the biggest mistakes Arizona visitors make is not staying properly hydrated. The second thing to make sure you pack or purchase upon arrival are healthy snacks, preferably snacks that will fuel you with energy. Granola bars, mixed nuts, dried fruit or fresh fruit and nut butter are all great things to keep on hand. Day tours to the Grand Canyon, Apache Trail, Sedona or catching some rays by the pool will take the energy out of you faster than you can imagine. Keep yourself satiated and hydrated to keep powering through your Arizona trip!
Chapstick + Lip Balm
While your lips are busy talking about the gorgeous sights you’re taking in they are also getting plenty of attention from the Arizona sunshine. In addition to keeping your skin protected with sunscreen, make sure pack some quality chapstick or lip balm with SPF protection. This will save you from sunburnt lips or windburned lips depending on which tours and adventures you decided to embark upon.
Hiking Boots, Gym Shoes & Sandals
A good pair of flip fops or sandals are essential to your Arizona trip, especially if you plan on hitting the pool or taking some light walks through the shopping centers of the city. If you’re planning on hiking and taking plenty of tours, make sure to pack a pair of supportive, waterproof and breathable hiking boots. These will allow you to navigate wet and dry trails with ease and enable you to explore farther than you maybe would have. They also protect your feet from unwanted visitors such as cactus needles, rocks on trails and possibly even snake bites. Don’t forget to pack a few extra pair of socks as well!
Camera + Cellphone
While most of us rarely leave home without our cellphone (at least intentionally) make sure you pack your cellphone and charger before you head out on your trip to the Southwest. Make sure to also pack your favorite camera so you can capture all the sights and wonder of Arizona. Especially if you are visiting some of the Arizona gems such as Antelope Canyon, Sedona, The Grand Canyon, Tombstone or The Apache Trail.
Arizona residents consider bathing suits an essential staple to survive the heat and layer up/layer down as needed. Pack that favorite suit and plan to wear it to the pool or as an additional layer under your hiking clothes.
For hiking we recommend packing a lightweight backpack that will be comfortable when you’re carrying medium to heavy loads. Whether it’s a backpack or travel purse make sure it has enough room for all the essentials for your trip, especially water and sunscreen.
Water Mister or Bandana
Keep cool with a portable mister that can make climbing the red rocks of Sedona or The Apache Trail feel a lot more manageable. A bandana you can soak with water is also a great option to pack.
In addition to all of the physical items you need to pack for your Arizona adventure, don’t forget to bring your energy and excitement to the trails and streets of the Southwest!