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Travel Tips: Packing for a Cruise Vacation

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You've booked an exciting cruise somewhere beautiful like the Caribbean and now you face he task of packing. Of course, we all wish we could snap our fingers and the trip essentials would magically appear in our suitcases, right?  But, unfortunately you can't skip to the fun part without getting organized first. Unlike a ground-based vacation, when you're on a cruise a lot of your time will be spent on the ship and if you forget anything, the shopping options might be limited.  So, let's make this easy shall we? Here's a checklist of what to do before it's time to board. First, get your luggage right. Keep in mind that you'll be toting your bag around to different port cities, so the heavier it is, the more frustrated you're going to be. A medium-sized suitcase or a zip-up weekend bag works best, especially if they have wheels and separate compartments to keep your goods organized. If you're bringing children, give them a small backpack they'll be able to carry to lighten the load. It's no secret that women pack double the amount of clothes than men do. For a tropical cruise, take a cue from the fellas and adopt the less is more attitude. Your excursion is about sightseeing, swimming and enjoying the sun. Lay your options out according to the day or location so you can make edits before you actually pack. One-garment get-ups like rompers and maxi dresses will help you scale back. Bring a few pairs of shorts, tops and comfortable flats that you can mix and match. You can always hand wash your swimwear so stick to your top three. Choose one or two roomy purses (no clutches allowed) that you can stash water bottles and souvenirs in while you explore. When it comes to beauty products, keep the regimen simple. The warm weather will give you a natural glow, so as long as you've stocked up on sunscreen, tinted lip balms and a little mascara, there's no need to bring a bulky makeup bag.  If you're going with a group of girlfriends, coordinate who's responsible for the body butter or the blow dryer so you don't duplicate. Pick a low-maintenance hairstyle that will keep you from fretting about your tresses in the humidity and water. Accessories   like a pretty headband, scarf or chic turban also make for quick hair fixes. Finally, although you might have a back-to-back itinerary, you shouldn't forget about some relaxing "me time."  Bring one book you've been dying to read and make sure your iPod is full of soothing songs. Pack only a few puzzles and gadgets to keep your kids entertained while you travel. And keep important items like insurance cards and money or identification in one envelope so they are easy to access. For added security, make an inventory list of expensive items like laptops or PDAs and store them in a small safe on the ship if possible. Don't forget to bring the addresses of your friends and family so you can surprise them with postcards and they can experience the adventure with you from afar.
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