Adventure Travel Airport Packing

What I Packed: Hurricane Season in Puerto Rico

What I packed on my seven-day visit to Puerto Rico during hurricane season.

Associate Editor Shannon McMahon visited Puerto Rico for a week-long trip with Puerto Rico Tourism Co.

Where: San Juan and Vieques

When: September 20-27

Packing Challenge: I wanted to avoid checking a bag due to baggage fees, and I was intent on not over-packing because I knew I would return with a lot more items than I had brought. This meant I had very little room to work with and had to pack for both adventure excursions and business casual dinners. I gave in and checked my carry-on bag for the flight back since I was bringing back some Puerto Rican rum, which wasn’t allowed in the cabin under the 3-1-1 rule. The ease of traveling to Puerto Rico without checking a bag, however, was well worth it.

Weather: It’s hurricane season, but because I was packing very light I didn’t bring a raincoat or umbrella (and resolved to simply buy one if the weather was bad). It was very hot and humid during the day—up to the mid 90s—but luckily it remained sunny all week, with just some afternoon storm clouds. The nighttime temperature never dropped below 80.

Type of Trip: I had to pack for a river spelunking excursion, kayaking, walking tours in the hot sun, the beach, business casual dinners, and nightlife. I knew I’d have to re-wear a lot of clothes and make daytime casual outfits work for nightlife as well.

How Long: Six days on the ground, two days traveling.

Mouse over the photos below for detailed explanations of the items I packed. Any time you see the Thinglink icon on a photo (bottom right), you can mouse over it to interact with the image.

What I Should Have Left Behind: I didn’t end up needing a couple of the T-shirts I brought, and quickly realized I preferred my sleeveless tank tops and rompers. They were light which made them ideal for the heat and humidity, and I could easily dress them up for dinner or nightlife with my comfortable heels and some jewelry. I only wore pants once, so I could have done without the second pair I brought.

What I Should Have Packed: I wish I had brought a second travel bottle of laundry detergent. I used mine up in the first few days washing my muddy bathing suit and some rompers and shirts I had to wear multiple times. We were staying in hotels, so hand-washing things in my shower ended up being a great option, but it’s hard to find small bottles of detergent in stores. I also wish I had brought one more pair of socks to change into after our river excursion (sneakers required) filled mine with sand. Luckily, the company hosting us was thoughtful enough to provide all of us with a new pair.

By Shannon McMahon

Editor Shannon McMahon is always planning her next trip and often writing in her travel journal. Follow her on Twitter @shanmcmahon_ and on Instagram @shanmcmahon.

Shannon joined SmarterTravel in 2015. A former news reporter, she's lived in the south of Spain, spotted elephants in Sri Lanka, gone spelunking in the Caribbean, hiked Jordan's Petra Basin, interviewed Sao Paulo's Michelin-Star chefs, and explored China via bullet train. Travel trends, news oddities, and her visits to up-and-coming destinations are some of her favorite things to write about.

Her stories have also appeared online on USA Today, The Sun, Huffington Post, Business Insider,,, and more. Her educational background is in journalism, art history, gender studies, Spanish, and film. She's been quoted as an expert travel source by CNBC,, MarketWatch, The Washington Post, USA Today, and more.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "Plenty of extra thick hair elastics. They tame my frizzy curls and come in handy in a surprising number of packing and hotel dilemmas."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "Climbing (yes, climbing, it's steep!) the Great Wall of China before it's gone."

Travel Motto: "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness." - Mark Twain

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Window, of course."

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