Hot Weather Packing Plans

Life is too short of having missed out on vacations for the last twenty years, so I am taking another one. The new destination is Amelia Island. The weather will be much warmer than the last time I visited Florida, so I am more carefully planning what to take in my carry-on for the week-long stay.

I bought this A-line cotton dress in a pale bluish-gray and also in navy. Nothing is cooler than a dress that falls from your shoulders without clinging to anything along the way down. The darts, button front, and V-neck detail also appealed to me.

Air conditioners are often set to Arctic Blast in the south, so I know I will get cold when I go into a building. I will be sure to take a cotton cardigan with me. That’s my trusty several years old BCBG bamboo handle bag above. The shoes are by Marc Fisher. I cannot wear the typical flat soft espadrilles due to supination, so this platform style is a more supportive option.

Creating a visual packing list on Polyvore helped me plan last time, so I have done that again. This trip will be a packing challenge. I moved from the New Orleans area back to East Tennessee in 2003, so I have forgotten how to dress in hot, humid weather.

  1. Living in the Midwest, I deal with a very hot, humid summer. I stay away from anything polyester and look for natural fabrics like cotton and linen. The natural fabrics breathe better. You are spot on about clothing that falls from the body rather than hugs it. Good for you for taking another vacation! Thanks for all you give to others. I truly enjoy your blog.

  2. Is this dress a woven or stretch cotton? If it is woven, does it wrinkle much when you wear it? If it is stretch, I’m Assuming it’s thick enough to to have some body to it. You look great!

      1. Hi Susan, Enjoy your trip!
        Will you ever carry this dress in an extra small? It says the small is equivalent to a size 8 which would be way too big on my frame. I am 61 and on the small side (2-4). Often dresses I find in stores in my size are designed for much younger bodies and age groups (tiny waists, lower necks or backs, etc). This one looks so perfect–I would buy in multiple colors!

  3. What do you mean by supination? Are you feet rolling outwards?

    You will adore Northern Florida especially Amelia Island!

  4. another piece of advice: light colors are cooler than darks. I don’t wear much black in the summer unless I know I am going to be inside for most of the time.

  5. You are wise to take a very light weight shoulder bag. While I love my handbags, having a bag that isn’t heavy and that you don’t have to carry in the crook of your arm, or in your hand makes life easier. First, those parts of your body eventually sweat when carrying a heavy purse, and second, having a shoulder or cross body bag leaves your hands free when shopping. Finally, you can hang the small bag on the back of your chair instead of sitting it on the floor where people have been walking (or maybe even spilling), so it is kept cleaner. Have a great time!

  6. Susan, It is not summer hot in FL yet. Amelia Island is a charming, historic island. It is very casual. Bring Good walking shoes. Try to get a boat over to the islands next door, that are in GA, all restaurants are casual dress. Have fun. Robin

  7. Susan… Depending on your planned activities… or lack of plans… sleeves maybe a good choice. I usually take a couple of three-quarter sleeve tops and a light sweater…. Very unpredictable even in summer. Your 70 temp at the highest during the day will follow cool mornings and then cooler evenings. Take the drive-by boat trip to Cumberland Island if time allows… its 3 hours or so and a wonderful experience. You will probably need a jacket for that open boat! Changes may be coming to Cumberland so it’s a must to see it in a virtually undisturbed state. Downtown is awesome… take your camera. The marina is lovely at sunset. Enjoy, enjoy… safe travels!

      1. I agree completely. The more that’s covered, the better! But I get so very
        hot. I also understand about the flat shoes. I cannot wear them either.
        You look wonderful as usual. Enjoy your trip.

  8. Susan, so happy to hear that you are taking another vacay and also that you will be in FL when it is a little warmer. I live in SW FL year round and it is a struggle to stay cool but stylish in the summer. Cotton blouses that hang loose and cotton tees are a staple, along with knee length bermuda shorts. Seersucker and linen are a must. Please consider hosting a seminar in Tampa or Ft Myers regarding dressing in hot, humid weather.

  9. You deserve another vacation! I noticed that you limited accessories with the dress and with heat and humidity that is a good idea. Love the dress…the style just looks cooler than wear shorts and a tee. The embroidered handbag is adorable.

  10. I lived in Houston and Galveston for 35 years. Now I live near Dallas. I agree about using a crossbody bag so your arms are free. And I never place my handbag on the floor so the strap is handy for hanging on your chair. But you should have an extra chair at your table that your can lay your purse so it will be safe and stay clean. I also wear layers in warm weather. Lots of tanks with a open draped cardigan or a light military jacket in a fatigue green. Goes with white or blue denim. I also wear a lot of white clothes. I wear a slip on shoe that won’t hurt when I walk all day. I do not wear shoes that I have to tie. And I don’t like ballet flats. They feel too frumpy for me. I have a open toe bootie with a 2 inch block heel that I wear out to dinner or when I am not planning on walking long distances and I have a blog heeled sandal that works with dresses or jeans. The heel is also about 2 inches. I wear cute sandals too. I have a shoe fetish problem. Lol. Have a great time!!

  11. For me, the worst part about humidity is HAIR, which I am currently dealing with in HI, as it is raining off and on. I don’t even recognize myself when I look in a mirror because my fine, thin hair becomes an ugly frizzy, curly, mess and flat on top where it shouldn’t be. It makes me feel so unattractive. It’s presently not really long enough to put back in a ponytail but yesterday I pinned it up in a clip, before I left the house and just didn’t touch it. That seemed the best option–up and off the neck. Have fun.

  12. I forget what they’re called, but there are these nifty handkerchief covered gadgets, you dampen with cold water, they get cool and you wrap, so the cooling element sits on the back of your neck and ties in front like a short scarf. We use those when hiking, doing yard work when it’s hot out, etc. In hot humid areas of the country, I’d think it would be a must-have. Also, I’m sure you already know, clothing made of natural materials, like cotton, …they breathe with your skin, instead of holding heat in. Have fun on your trip!

  13. I would like for you to include in future postings various options for keeping upper arms covered. Personally I wouldn’t use a cardigan draped over my shoulders as a cover for a sleeveless dress (even though it looks nice on you). I regularly follow your blog and I hope you enjoy your upcoming getaway.

    1. I know exactly what you mean. I do not wear sleeveless or even short sleeves for that reason. A scarf, jacket, or cardigan will always be draped across my shoulders. I wanted to show you what the dress looked like is the only reason you are seeing so much of me.

  14. Great timing on this article!! We are driving to Clearwater Beach, next week for a month. Have done so last 5 years. Not completely “hot weather” yet. We have had days in 60’s and evenings in 50’s…so pack your “underneath layers” and jacket. Overall, days should be nice. Amelia Island is wonderful!! Make sure u stop in the Ritz Carlton for a drink!! Beautiful…and enjoy your week.
    (I pack “purses” as u suggest. Hate carrying heavy ones…everywhere!!)

  15. You are fortunate that you can wear sleeveless tops, I would include those, and shorts if you can wear them”. My varicose veins do not allow that, so I stick to crop pants and short- sleeved t-shirts. Jeans are too hot in the hot humid Florida weather. Hope you have a great time

  16. Whether dealing with humid or dry heat, I’ve found it helpful to carry a lightweight sweater, jacket or sheer kimono for windy weather, indoor air conditioning and nighttime coolness. I also keep a small spray bottle or a small mister both filled with cold water to spray on my hair and/or body when it gets uncomfortably hot.

  17. I visited Amelia Island around April 1 last year. It’s may not be as warm as you expect. It was perfect summer like weather during the day, but it wasn’t humid at all. I brought a similar sleeveless chambray dress and wore a light cream 3/4 sleeve open weave “sweater” over top part of the day. It was very breezy near the water. Many photos in the evening I see I had on my denim jacket or a cardigan and even a spring jacket over a cardigan one evening. You will probably choose to eat dinner outdoors so layers are needed. You will want a hat, too.

  18. I don’t think it will be that hot & humid this early in the year – more likely lovely, under 80 degrees and no doubt ocean breezes blowing most of the time.
    I see on the Polyvore photo that you have a black maxi dress which you have featured in some of your blogs. When I have been to the Caribbean, my black maxi dress has been so practical. I’ve worn it as a coverup over my bathing suit at the beach, with a straw hat and sandals; with a white shirt, a belt and casual flats for shopping; with sparkly jewelery and a scarf ‘shawl’ for dinner. One of my favourite things overall. I think you could even wear it with your silver Keds & that great hat you wore in Florida earlier.
    Susan – your arms look great. I know all of us ‘of a certain age’ hate to show our bare arms but, if mine looked as nice as yours, I wouldn’t worry about covering them all the time!
    Have a wonderful vacation!!!!

  19. I bought myself a white linen suit, not exactly a suit, pants and a sleeveless tunic, and I really thought I was going to be so chic and cool in this linen suit with which I wore a beautiful multicolor scarf. Well, what I looked like was a wrinkled up mess! The suit looked great for the first half hour, but after climbing in and out of the car, I was one hundred wrinkles. So my tip is, no matter how cool you might feel, you will never look good in linen. Stick to cotton. And a straw bag, and a cute sun hat!

  20. First of all, I love your blog! It is so full of good information. We travel a lot – about 3-4 months per year – so I always am looking for ideas & products to streamline my packing. I have learned to pack everything I need for a six-week stay in Mexico in one overhead carry-on & one smaller bag that can be stowed under the seat in front of me. My three most versatile items are: 1) Daily Correct CC Cream SPF 35+ from Supergoop, a 3-in-1, quality product packaged in e that fits perfectly in the required, quart-sized liquids bag; 2) a shawl that coordinates with all my outfits & 3) a water – rainproof, hooded jacket with adjustable closures at the wrists, as well as Velcro-closures flag covering the zipper that rolls & folds to a very small bundle. It’s so stress-free to be able to pack in such a manner.

  21. In hot humid weather I always dress in something that skims the body. Dresses are great. Also light weight blouses that skim the body. You DO NOT want anything that is close or snug. Make sure there is enough weight in the fabric so that you don’t have to wear a slip under the dress. Also plan on enough undergarments as you will need to change every day. Cotton or blends are good fabrics as is linen but it tends to wrinkle. Sandals are a must to keep the feet cool.

  22. I prefer skirts over shorts,,,,you can dress up or down depending on accesssories. I find them much cooler than shorts and much easier access in the restroom.

  23. Hi Susan, we have been going to Amelia island for over 20 years. We just love it there. Hope you enjoy your vacation.


  24. Hi, Susan:
    Am enjoying your blog, as always. I gave your name to a friend of mine and she’s become an avid fan! We really like your common-sense approach to dressing.

    I bought your crepe pants and a couple of tops and have enjoyed them very much. I’m considering the new dress but am not a person who wears sleeveless anything–at 80 years old.

    As far as dressing for the heat, linen is my number one choice of fabrics and I have lived in Florida all my 80 years. There’s a line called “Fridaze” out of California which features garments made with specially-treated linen so they don’t wrinkle so badly. The garments are washable and I’m wearing them for the 3rd consecutive year. They wear well and are beautifully made. You might want to consider checking them out.

    Have fun on your trip and come back to Florida soon!

    Chris Waters

  25. Cotton, flowing and light colors are the rule for hot, humid weather. Ditch the jeans unless you plan to wear them on a cool night.

  26. I don’t have helpful suggestions for you but would love to see a post about packing for cold weather. I am traveling to Colorado next month (March) and would love to see your suggestions for that.

  27. I live in Central Florida it’s already in mid 80’s. We bypassed spring this year. You need a wide brimmed hat, polarizing sunglasses, shorts (longer length) good sunscreen, bug spray. Lots of short sleeve tees. Try kayaking while you are here the rivers are so beautiful. You look wonderful don’t be afraid to wear a swimsuit we have all shapes and sizes here and everyone swims. Love your blog and advice.

  28. A happy moment when I see your new post in my inbox. Living in Texas, I am a big fan of shawls for inside venues. I like very thin merino wool. And lots of alcohol free witch hazel cucumber spray on my neck and before I go to bed. (Whole Foods)I used your beautiful embroidered bag for Valentine’s dinner out with a hot pink top. Such a gorgeous bag, goes with everything. Thanks for your encouragement to us all, and your honesty.

  29. I love Amelia Island. I attended a women’s leadership conference there at the Ritz Carleton in 2013 and stayed the weekend. A friend joined me and had a wonderful time. In Fernandina Beach, we shopped in the cute stores and shops and ate there. There is a wonderful Spanish/Portegues restaurant they call Espana – it is 22 S. 4th Street, Fernandina Beach. Here is the link – – I adore paella, and it was wonderful. We ate there twice!! On Amelia Island, you can book a horse ride on the beach from Kelly Seahorse Ranch – – you don’t get to go out on our own. A guide leads you and the horse so is it a slow pace, but still an experience to ride a horse on a beach. Enjoy your time there!

  30. From st Augustine, it’s not warm here yet, we’ve had a cold winter. It’s still cool days and cold nights. I wouldn’t be wearing sleeveless anything yet. Good luck maybe you’ll hit a warmer spell but another front in due to come in

  31. I lived in Amelia Island, off and on for ten years. I loved every minute of it. However, February can be tricky. Definitely not hot everyday but wonderful weather to walk on the beach wearing a sweat shirt. The wind can be quite chilly. Then the next day, wearing only a tee shirt! Love, love, love the Island and the people are very friendly. Have a fantastic time!!!

  32. I noticed you have 2 long pants. Maybe it won’t be so hot that you can get away with them, but I usually pack some capri’s for the really hot days. I know you don’t wear them, and I probably shouldn’t, as I’m a ‘big’ person, but sometimes comfort mandates it. Maybe your dresses will achieve that for you – it just depends on how hot it is and how long you stay outside. Soooooo glad to hear you’re traveling. It really is the best teacher ! Safe travels, Connie Briggs

  33. Great post! Please tell me how you like your destination. I’m looking for a vacation in Florida soon but not sure where I want to go. I just want sun, sand and water! Your packing tips are great too. I haven’t tried Polyvore but will check it out. Love that bag!

  34. Nice to see a hat in your plan. Big broad brim but maybe ? Need another suitable if the weather is windy. What about a pair of swimmers. Any nice white shorts …. always smart If the length is right. Good Aussie cotton a must no polyester. Enjoy

  35. As a Texas girl with very warm summers, I’ve learned to wear dresses instead of capris or even shorts. It’s so much better to have airflow down below when the heat is on.

  36. What is polyvore please? I’m amazed that you can pack for a week in a carry on. I look forward to your posts! Thank you!

  37. You want to avoid thick T-shirts. Be prepared for not repeating an item’s wear without washing. Loose thin cotton. Hats are needed but hot so take clips to clip hair up from the back of the neck. Use strong sunscreen.

    Oh yes, I’m from the UK, as if we have humid hot humid weather here, haha. I do holiday in places that do though.

  38. Dear Susan, I know you aren’t a fan of prints but nothing works better in our heat and humidity than Lilly Pulitzer shifts and dresses. I virtually live in them during the hot months. With a pair of metallic wedges, and a few cute handbags you are ready for anything. They pack beautifully. You can pack for two weeks in one carry-on. Add a pair of your most flattering white jeans and a couple of tunic tops and your packed. And best of all they can be hung up and any packing wrinkles disappear. I do still carry a tiny steamer with me but rarely need to use it.

  39. Fernandina Beach!!! Fun fun little town. We also ate at Espana and it was really good as was the little farm to table restaurant attached to the cooking school (not sure if it’s still there). Been going to Amelia for years and while there is usually really good eating, restaurants do come and go pretty quickly.

  40. I bought a cool bead filled bandana at REI before I went to Italy in July of last year. I’m from Houston and have since used it here. You place it in a bowl of cool water and the beads hydrate absorbing the water then, wrap around your neck to stay cool. It’s great addition for high heat days.

  41. Hi Susan,
    Amelia Island is lovely but the East coast of Florida is way more crowded and busy than the West coast. Just my experience. Also It is not hot here. Maybe June, July and August.
    You are in the AC in the car and house or at the beach, pool etc. I never think it is too hot in FL. Been living here a long time. Enjoy.

    1. That’s what I was thinking as well. I have been seeing weather reports showing 90 degrees in some parts of mid-Florida already. That’s the heat of summer for us here in East Tennessee.

  42. Susan, I think you have a great combination illustrated there. I live in Tampa and find that I sweat a lot! I also find that most people develop an sweaty odor just by walking across the street, so I carry a small bottle of spritzer in a fragrance I like, just to freshen up when I’ve been shopping or just walking outside for more than 5 minutes! I also change tops frequently, especially when I am in close proximity to people, in order to minimize the sweaty odor. Although I love scarves, they make me too warm if I’m outdoors at all, even for an outdoor evening meal. When traveling, I might also bring a small bottle of liquid laundry soap to launder any tops I plan to wear the rest of the week.

  43. I love the *idea* of those platform sandals. They look so comfie! But they seem so clunky to my eye… not unlike “nimaiba geta” (courtesan’s clogs) from Japan. I’d love to find some that look casual, but also elegant and light on the feet. (I want EVERYTHING!!! lol)


  44. Susan, I lived in New Orleans for nine years. Admittedly, I was younger then, and I could wear some things that I wouldn’t wear today.

    The spring was warm, but sometimes there was a chill in the air – especially later in the day. I had good success with knit short-sleeved tops and loose but form fitting knit pants. A longer, a-line knit skirt was sometimes substituted for the pants. A knit cardigan that had sleeves that I could push up came in handy. When the weather got warmer, I practically lived in tank dresses and sandals. I also got a lot of wear out of a two-piece cotton knit outfit – a short sleeved top with a matching pair of shorts that appeared to be a skirt.

    By summertime the humidity was in full-force, and it was intense. Cool, cotton knits, fabrics that fell away from the body, bared arms and legs as much as reasonable are all good choices. Comfortable sandals are a must. If you can pull the back of your hair up in some kind of a barrette, it will help you to feel cooler.

    Hope this helps!

  45. Having lived in South Florida for the past 35 years, dressing for the temperature is second nature. One word of advise is to try and wear all natural fibers. Cotton is your friend, linen is an awesome, breezy option but wrinkles so quickly.

    During a warm spring or summer, I avoid jeans and opt for light khakis or white Chico’s ankle pants. One thing I cannot live without is a white denim pencil skirt. Match with a boat neck, good quality T-shirt and sandals, it can look really pretty. Cardigans in a cotton knit are also a must for restaurants and cooler indoor areas.

    Last, I’m not into wearing shorts under dresses, just one too many layers. Rather, if I know I will be walking a lot in humidity, I will simply apply a little Glide, anti blister, anti chafing balm. It’s sold on Amazon or Target, in a “deodorant looking” stick. A must for runners and for South Florida summers 😉

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