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Island Advisor - The Essentials

Island vacations are fabulous except for just one thing Ė finding all those items you forgot to bring. And, if you do locate them expect to pay twice the price, if not more, than you would have back home. So, donít leave home without:

If protecting yourself from future wrinkles isnít sufficient reason to always wear sunscreen then imagine your pain while trying to sleep with three alarm sunburn. Donít buy a super-size unless you plan to decant the cream or liquid into bottles less than 3 oz. Current carry-on regulations prevent you from carrying more than 3 oz in any one bottle and all those bottles must fit into a 1 quart size clear plastic bag.

Mosquitoes and sand fleas can add misery to the most perfectly planned holiday. If you are sensitive to these little critters make sure to pack along your favourite, in a small size, of course.

This indispensable piece of island wear is simply an over-sized scarf, but oh what it can do. It can be tied in a variety of ways to create a dress, skirt or beach cover up. Once youíve arrived at the waterís edge use it as a beach blanket or impromptu picnic blanket. Bring it with you on the plane to act a light blanket for napping. And, when youíve run out of sunscreen you can use it to provide some shade from the powerful rays. You can make one from fabric, a cotton or cotton blend, 60 inches by 45 inches. Create a narrow hem on all sides to prevent fraying. Voila! Your very own pareo in a fabric that flatters your bathing suit.

Another essential to have on an island but unless you plan to wear it they can be difficult to pack. Most islands have an abundance of straw hats so you may want to wait until you arrive to purchase this item. Ball caps are quite okay for bad hair days but with strong sun you may want more coverage for your neck and shoulders.

Crossing hot sandy beaches and spiky coral outcrops require sole protection, as do public washrooms. My favourite trick is to buy a pair of really cheap sneakers, wear them everywhere Ė in and out of the water Ė and then abandon them at the end of the trip.

Make your carry-on a generous size straw or canvas bag and youíll be ready to hit the beach right away.

Perfect for not-quite-dry bathing suits, picnic materials, laundry or as packing material for delicate items on the trip home. About 5-6 is all you should need.

This item you can only bring if you are check your bag, otherwise it will be confiscated by the security officers at the airport. Choose one with a good knife, corkscrew, screwdriver, scissors and nail file and youíll cement a reputation as a well-prepared traveller.

There is only one rule: take more than one pair or you will lose or break the only pair you brought. Because I need glasses for reading a staple in my carry-on is a generic pair of reading glasses for that very purpose.

Be sure to pack along small sizes of whatever it takes to make you feel better: eye drops, nasal decongestant, pain killer, band-aids, moleskin patch, antiseptic ointment, after-bite cream, sunburn cure and tweezers. Donít forget, unless you plan to check your bag, all of these items will have to fit into your 1 quart, clear plastic bag.

Taking the essentials you need means youíll have more money to spend on the really important items, like a pina colada by the pool.

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