Hawaii Aug-Sept 2019 packing list

Islands and Duration: Oahu (4 nights, 4.5 days), Kauai (5 nights, 5 days)


pack as little as possible without sacrificing comfort

Since I’m still dabbling in minimalism, a few of my recent subreddit obsessions are r/onebag, r/HerOneBag, and r/ultralight. As a result, compared to previous trips, I’ve decided to

  • downsize my camera from a mirrorless* one to a still-good point-and-shoot one
  • invest in quick-drying clothing
    • merino socks, performance shirts/bras/underwear
    • the undergarments can then double-function as swimwear
  • downsize my toiletry bag
  • leave out shampoo and soap
    • I more intentionally checked whether my accommodations already provided these (they do)
    • I don’t trust hotel conditioner, though, so I’ll still bring that
  • downsize my umbrella
  • bring a small bag of disinfectant wipes
    • some Redditors suggested this for wiping down your plane seat area

Unfortunately, I am recovering from a sprained ankle. I can walk without crutches or a brace, but it’s probably not a good idea to run. That said, I can additionally leave out running shoes, running shorts, and a pair of socks.

But there are some additions I’m a bit ashamed to note. I’m still considering whether I should forego them:

  • noise-cancelling over-ear headphones vs. simple earphones
    • Sony WH-1000MX3 vs. some Minisos bought in emergency in Viet Nam
    • I’ve always used cheap-o earphones everywhere I go, but recently a coworker convinced me to splurge on those Sonys–thankfully I bought used for a discount and they are still good. I’ve heard they are amazing on planes for drowning out machine noise and people. Buuuut they’re so bulky!
  • trekking poles

Update 08/26: decided to bring both.

Still have room for SOUVENIRS

But resist as much as possible buying any. 😀 #minimalism

Tailor your packing style to your destination(s)

Despite the subreddits, for this trip (and my previous one to Seattle and Vancouver), I’ve decided to move away from one large 40L backpack to a small (~17in) roller bag and regular (26-28L) backpack combination. I have struggled with the one large backpack in terms of my back, even though I’m supposed to be a spry young adult still.

The mobility of one large backpack is amazing for sure, and it was especially useful when traveling in Mexico, Viet Nam, and Spain, where there aren’t as many smooth roads for rolling something around. Plus, in Spain and Viet Nam, I was changing lodging every few days, and typically not with a car readily outside my building–in which there were typically many stairs and no elevator. I may still go back to one bag if I go to a destination like these again.

But I have read that, Hawaii, like much of the continental U.S. and Vancouver, is very roller-bag friendly.

Still, I’m sure there will be times I will have to carry my roller bag, and this (along with wanting to pack light) is why I’m sticking to an almost-underseater roller bag.

Brace for mosquitoes

Kauai is kinda infested with them, I’ve heard, and I’m prone to getting bitten–unlike my blessed husband. I have plenty of DEET-filled towelettes I still haven’t used (remnants from a 2017 Peru trip), and I also will be trying out these funky-looking mosquito-repelling bracelets. Finally, for when I do get an inevitable bite or two, I’ve found it soothing to rub some aloe vera gel on my skin, so I’ll bring a little bit of that as well.

Brace for rain in a hot climate

Interestingly, in terms of humidity and temperature, Hawaii looks to be similar to the DC area right now. From my experience here, it’s definitely more comfortable having an umbrella vs. a rain jacket or poncho if you plan to be walking a lot. And unfortunately, it looks like most days in Kauai are forecast to have rain. Of course, these days with climate change getting worse, it’s hard to predict the weather, but even before this time, I’ve read that Hawaii weather is notoriously unpredictable in terms of rain.

Though, to be honest, I’m considering doubling up on a rain jacket and umbrella combo. Thankfully both items don’t take up much room.

Update 08/27: decided on just the umbrella.

Scan for activity-specific stuff

We plan to visit Pearl Harbor, which bans bags of any kind unless they’re transparent. Thankfully, I have a transparent drawstring bag (from a crowded race that demanded similar security measures). I can substitute a few packing cubes for this.

We also plan to visit a Hindu monastery, which demands conservative clothing. While they provide free sarongs, I would feel less embarrassed if I came prepared myself.

We definitely want to ride in an off-door helicopter, and while these tours tend to go a little slower and thus be less windy, I myself get cold easily so I’ll want to bring a light jacket (which will be useful anyway in the plane).

Some people also think about bringing their own snorkeling gear if they plan to snorkel a lot (especially on their own), but I think my husband and I will only be going out no more than twice, with each time the gear already being provided for us by a tour guide.

Seek advice from locals

r/HawaiiVisitors, r/Hawaii, r/Kauai!

And now, the list


  1. Samsonite Ziplite 4.0 16″. underseater
  2. Arc’teryx Mantis 26L
  3. Transparent drawstring bag
  4. Small Kindle-sized purse
    • doubles as camera bag


  1. 1 minimalist wallet
  2. house key (remove extra keys)
  3. 1 point-and-shoot camera
    • with case, extra battery, charging cable, extra SD card
  4. 1 small tripod
  5. 1 old Nintendo DS bag for camera
  6. 1 pair sunglasses
  7. 1 pair eyeglasses
  8. 1 pair earphones
  9. 1 6L drybag
  10. 1 waterproof phone case for underwater pics
  11. 1 tablet
  12. 1 smartphone
  13. 1 charging cable between tablet and smartphone (yay!)
  14. 1 travel pillow
  15. 4 granola bars for emergency
  16. 1 small insulating water bottle
  17. 5 mosquito-repelling bracelets – 1 per limb, and 1 for husband
  18. 1 small umbrella
  19. 2 foldable trekking poles
  20. 1 pair over-the-ear headphones
  21. 1 set of emergency first-aid things
  22. 1 Ziploc bag for first aid and mosquito-repelling items


  1. 3 pairs Darn Tough merino wool socks*
  2. 1 Zensah sports bra for hiking and swimming
  3. 2 regular bras*
  4. 5 pairs performance underwear*
  5. 1 skirt, which can convert to a sundress (!)
  6. 1 pair sandals
  7. 1 pair hiking boots*
  8. 1 pair shorts
  9. 1 pair quick-drying pants* – casual/hiking
  10. 1 scarf
  11. 1 light quick-drying jacket*

(*) Wearing 1 on plane.


  1. 1 menstrual cup 😦
  2. 1 small bottle conditioner
  3. 1 small container sunscreen – share with husband
  4. 1 small facial stick sunscreen – share with husband
  5. 1 small bottle facial lotion
  6. 1 small bottle aloe vera for mosquito bite relief
  7. 1 contact lens holder of Tylenol, ibuprofen, allergy pills
  8. 1 mini toothbrush
  9. 1 mini toothpaste tube
  10. 1 razor
  11. 1 small bottle Argan oil for face
  12. 1 small capsule foundation
  13. 1 toiletry bag
  14. 1 pack of insect-repellent towelettes – share with husband
  15. 1 pair earplugs
  16. 1 eye mask
  17. 1 Ziploc bag with disinfectant wipes
  18. 1 small brush
  19. 2 hair ties
  20. 1 tweezer
  21. 1 nail clipper

And maybe

  • 3 pairs contact lenses for swimming, helicopter
    • though my vision is thankfully not bad to begin with

But remember your companions

In this case, my companion is my husband (as usual), and he is naturally very simple in terms of packing. We share on some things–he won’t bring a separate tablet, insect repellent, transparent bag, disinfectant wipes, or toiletries (except literally just a toothbrush and toothpaste), for example. He probably at most fills up 25L of his 40L bag (and I’m being generous). So, I can consider sneaking in some of my maybe items into his bag 😉 and definitely some things we both share.

Update 08/26: Husband and I did a preliminary pack-up last night, with me consolidating some items. Indeed, he has a good ~20L free in his 40L bag, and surprisingly I have about 10L free in my backpack (with trekking poles)! This is after a lot of “maybe” stuff moved to the “definitely” list. That said, packing list has been updated (anything in italics).

Coming soon

Pictures of everything laid out! And a post-trip analysis of this list.