Things I Always Pack for the Dominican Republic – and What I’d Never Bring

Ah, the Dominican Republic. This wonderful island filled with bustling cities, laid back beach towns, and of course, beaches.

If you’re planning your first trip there or just need some guidance, look no further! I love reading packing lists, and especially posts about ‘what’s in my bag!’ so wanted to share my tried and true packing list. Following multiple trips to the Dominican Republic, and also having spent a year living there, I have a good idea of what I’d pack for my next trip, as well as what not to bring.

At one point during my year spent living in Santo Domingo, these bags contained all my possessions in the country (this grew each month with the purchase of kitchen items and more!). A lot for a short visit but a good amount for a full year.

Remember, every trip is unique – depending on what you have planned for your trip to the Dominican Republic, you will have different needs. This packing list is based on a trip to the capital or otherwise urban city, but I’ll note where I might adjust if you were planning a resort trip.

Clothing

When traveling, I try to blend in, although I cannot help wearing dark colors (I’m a New Yorker, fight me!). In the capital, people dress pretty modestly. However, women tend to wear tight fitting, bright colored clothes. I try to do the same when I’m there. You know your own travel habits so bring whatever you think you’ll wear with the weather and activities in mind. I always bring extra shirts especially if I won’t have access/time to do laundry because I will be sweating, and it’s hard to find inexpensive, good quality clothing there.

I’m blending in super well at Carnaval in La Vega here.
  • Colorful, flowy tops – just don’t wear all black.
  • Jeans – You can wear shorts, but I prefer to wear jeans if I’m in the capital. Especially since you will be inside most often. Businesses and stores have A/C. At homes, you may have only a fan so you may want to wear a skirt. I do not recommend anything too short just out of respect but it’s really fine either way.
  • Dresses – this is probably best – you can wear a dress in most situations. I always wear with some type of short underneath to avoid chafing and also to avoid **situations** getting in and out of public transportation.
  • Nice sandals or light canvas sneakers – Keep yer feets cool and comfortable.
  • Flip Flops – for the beach day (below),and I like to wear these in the house.
Appropriate attire for playing a casual game of dominoes.

Note: If you’ll be at a resort, then you can wear shorts, bathing suits, sarongs, clubwear, etc and it’s all good. Go crazy! You may be planning to do some outdoor excursions, in which case, sturdier shoes may be needed.

Toiletries

You can really get anything you need in the DR if you’re in a big city or at the local colmado. The general travel rule is, if you forgot something and you can’t find it in a store, then it probably isn’t a necessity and you can get by without it. The only caveat would be for those with monthly cycles, bring a stash of your favorite products just in case you can’t find the same brand/type that you prefer.

If you have any stomach/digestion issues while there, you might consider some kind of antibiotic to combat it, so make sure you know whether you have any allergies before taking any new medications.

In addition, as a last resort, you may be able to purchase medications without a prescription at a pharmacy. This should be done ONLY if you know exactly what you need. Find a photo what you need online to show the pharmacist, then confirm that the ingredients of what they have are a match, and then check that what they are offering is the most ‘economical’ to get a better price. However – if you’re not sure about medication GO TO A DOCTOR and get the right prescription!!!

Note: If you’ll be at a resort, bring everything you’ll need, including medications, especially if you aren’t planning to leave the resort to find a store.

Day Trips/Hanging Out

Real casual iguana at the Zoo in Santo Domingo.
  • Crossbody bag – handy for shorter trips around town or at night. I prefer a crossbody bag so it’s harder to lose/get stolen, although I’ve never had a problem. I just feel safer with a crossbody. Slashproof bags a plus, although, I’ve never had a problem.
  • Reusable water bottle – while you can’t drink the tap water, if you’re staying at a rental or with friends you may have a botellon that you can refill your bottle with, to avoid purchasing more plastic bottles that you will then throw away.
  • Hand Sanitizer – just, please do it and please use it. Even if a restroom has water, maybe it won’t have soap. Even in the capital. Just please and thanks.
  • Wet wipes / baby wipes – in case there’s no water / limited water. Also great for your hands after eating things like delicious fried fish. Or if you drip ice cream all over yourself.Napkins – I literally always have a stash of napkins in my bag when I travel in case the restroom doesn’t. Or for when I drip ice cream all over my hands (see a pattern?)
  • Umbrella – for the sun,or if you get caught in a rainstorm. It is common to see women walking around during the day with an umbrella. It’s like having your own personal shade tree. It is ABSOLUTELY not weird.
  • Sunglasses – I don’t feel like I need a reason for this. Please protect your eyes.
VIP Section
At a resort, where you probably don’t need an umbrella.

Note: Besides the sunglasses and maybe crossbody bag or clutch, you probably don’t need most of these for a resort stay.

For the Beach Day

You’ll be on an island. This goes without saying: you PROBABLY will end up at a beach at some point if you’re there long enough.

  • Swimsuit – bring a few, in case you go more than once.
  • Sun block and aloe – for the inevitable burns.
  • Flip Flops – only for the beach or at a resort. I find people wear actual sandals or shoes in the capital.
  • Beach Bag – one you are OK getting sandy. I like to bring a tote bag with a zip.

Extras

Riding Pinto the Horse
I’m on a horse, appropriately dressed with hiking boots and a huge long sleeve shirt. Disregard the bug bites.
  • Bug spray – while not really needed in the confines of the capital, but good to have. I have gotten SO MANY BITES. Just do it. Especially at dusk when those buggers are out thirsting for blood.
  • External charger – for when the power is out and you need to charge your phone or other item.

Things I Don’t Bring

At the salon where professionals can do your hair.
  • Fancy / Nice / Expensive jewelry, bags or apparel – I love my costume jewelry! Less is more. Wear obviously cheap items if you have them. I usually just wear some fun earrings and leave it at that. The purse I bring is unmarked without any logos, and it fully zips. It also does not look like it has anything valuable in it.
  • Hair dryer/straightener. It’s so hot and humid, there’s no point in spending the time. If you really need your hair to look nice for an event you can go to a salon for a good price and your hair will be on point.
  • Backpack – I bring one as a carry-on for the airport, or with me if I’m staying somewhere for a few nights. Don’t wander around a city with a backpack please. However, you may want to bring a small backpack for daytrips or excursions from a resort, depending on the activity.

There you have it! Have I been forgetting some important item? Do I overpack? Let me know in the comments!

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