Some people swear by mix and match, with others it’s all about outfits. You will find travelers who only use carryon bags and others that can’t do without a full size suitcase. Each traveler needs to assess their situation and pack accordingly. I’ve offered up my River Cruise Packing List to get you jump started on your packing.
My packing philosophy – each trip is different and requires a different type of packing. I prefer to use the biggest bag I can find, teeter on the maximum weight, and have lots of options. However, I have cruised with a small carryon because my pre and post cruise adventures required me to lug my bag through train stations, ride-shares, and down the street to my flat. So anything goes.
Keep in mind, most river cruise ships offer laundry services for a fee, but typically don’t have a self serve laundry room.
On a cruise, I like to dress in fresh clothes for dinner. After a long day of excursions, a shower and a clean outfit will perk you up. My daywear and dinnerware, for the most part, are the same. I wear a clean outfit for dinner – unless I spill, it doesn’t get dirty. Then a day or two later I’ll wear it for daywear. I bring one nice dress (hubby brings a jacket) for the Captain’s dinner, and if you have pre or post cruise land packages, you can recycle it and wear it again.
I also aim for lightweight – rayon, cotton, linen, silk. Part of my unpacking routine is to iron all the wrinkly pieces before I hang them up. The rooms are small, unpack asap and stow your suitcase, it will afford you so much more room.
Keep in mind the time of year and weather forecast. Plan for layers anytime of year, but extra warmth if you are cruising in the cold weather season.
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Packing cubes are the best. You can roll everything up in a packing cube and it stays put, is compact, and you can pack more.
My River Cruise Packing List
- Tops and bottoms or dresses. I don’t like wearing the same thing two full days so my rule is one outfit for each day plus two more just in case. Pack a variety – long sleeves, short sleeves, slacks, shorts, skirts, dresses. I avoid denim – it’s bulky to pack.
- One, two at the most evening wear dresses or slacks and shirt – jacket if that’s your style. Nothing too dressy, country club casual.
- All your underwear – ## of days away plus two, socks, slips, etc.
- A wrap or scarf. It serves two purposes. As an extra layer or wrap – the top deck gets chilly at night. Some churches require covered shoulders to enter so it does double duty.
- Outerwear is key. A warm, lightweight jacket will keep you cozy when it’s chilly. A lightweight raincoat or jacket is key to enjoying a rainy day. I opt for a hood in lieu of an umbrella.
- Footwear can make or break your vacation. Good walking shoes are a must. One pair of dress shoes – slightly dressy sandals work for women and do double duty for outings. Hikers and bikers, you know what you need. Lastly, a shoe to wear onboard that will give your feet a rest from sneakers – slip ons like Toms or Sperrys are great.
- Small and lightweight backpack, fanny pack, or crossbody bag for excursions. Something big enough to carry what you need, but not so heavy it’s exhausting to lug around. I like to make sure it also holds a water bottle.
- Water-proof bag for your phone and camera.
- Hat – crushable with UV protection.
- Bug wipes
- Local currency in small bills for tipping and small purchase
- Prescriptions and basic meds. Our eating habits change when we travel. I like to be prepared for any body backlash. I always pack Advil, Imodium, heartburn medication, dramamine, vitamin C packets, neosporin, and bandaids.
- Hydration packets to add electrolytes to your water.
- Electronics. This list can get extensive, but the basics include a charger for each electronic you bring – I like a 3-in-1 charger for my Iphone, earbuds, and Applewatch. I also pack two Fuel Rods with me – They give me a battery boost when I’m away from the ship, they are rechargeable, and they work with phones and androids.
- Universal Travel Adapter. If you are traveling to multiple countries, one that has different configurations can save you. Many hotels now offer USB plugs in the rooms and onboard ships, but there is no guarantee.
- Reading material. Books are heavy, try to download them to a tablet or e-reader and you will have an endless supply. I prefer to listen to books on Audible with my Beats Noise Canceling Headphones – perfect for blocking out noise on the plane and by the pool.
- Hand held luggage scale – particularly if you are a vacation shopper.
- Nylon Duffle Bag – I pack an inexpensive and lightweight, collapsible bag that can be used as a carryon or checked bag for your trip home for souvenirs.
- Extra gear for adventures like snorkel gear, walking sticks, etc.
- Cold weather gear if required.
- Travel documents and other necessary wallet items, i.e. Passport.
I hope my river cruise packing list will get you ready for a fabulous trip down an exciting river where you will visit wonderful ports of call. Read about AmaWaterways Rhine River Cruise here, it is one of the first river cruises generally embarked upon.
Don’t you just hate it when your phone battery is in the dreaded red zone? I always carry Fuel Rods with me. They give me a battery boost, they are rechargeable, and they work with iphones and androids.
Travel health insurance when you are heading out of the country is an important consideration. Many policies don’t fully cover you outside of the US. I use Safety Wing for my international travels. I use the one-time coverage option for individual trips – luckily I haven’t had to use it, but it’s comforting to know I have it in place.
If you know me, you know I love a glass of wine (or two). My favorite mail order wine company is Naked Wines. I order a case every month or so – no judgment please. I love that they work with small independent winemakers and I get to choose what wine I want and when I want it delivered.
Don’t forget to download my free packing list! It’s the perfect jumping off point to get your adventure started.