The Only Packing List You Need for New Orleans
New Orleans is a city with multiple personalities. It can serve as the setting for a romantic escape, a Mardi Gras-caliber party, or a family getaway filled with culture, sporting events, and fun.
Packing the right clothing and accessories for New Orleans means determining which type of Big Easy getaway you’re going to have. Or, maybe your trip will offer a bit of everything.
One thing is for certain — New Orleans is bound to throw some unique weather and opportunities your way. It’s a city bursting with American, French, Creole, African American, and Haitian heritage, and there’s almost always some kind of cultural event taking place.
You might find yourself stopping by a jazz festival on the way to Cafe du Monde or detouring into the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum on your way to Bourbon Street. The only thing predictable about New Orleans is its unpredictability.
And that’s why once you’ve booked the perfect vacation rental in the city, a New Orleans packing list is essential.
When to Visit New Orleans
The best time to visit New Orleans is December and January for low-key, budget-minded travelers. February to May is the time for those who want to see all the Mardi Gras and peak-season fun. Prices are much higher during the busy season, but it’s a price many are willing to pay to take part in the action.
June, July, and August are when the steamy summer temperatures roll into the Big Easy, making air conditioning an absolute must during the heat of the day. The average temperature during summer is in the low 90s, and it’s the rainiest season, so pack an umbrella for rain and sun protection.
September to November is hurricane season, so you’ll need luck on your side to enjoy an uninterrupted escape this time of year. However, the risk is reflected in the low hotel rates and less touristy streets. Now is the time to book your dream hotel in the French Quarter.
Packing Guide: Essential Items for New Orleans
What you need to bring to New Orleans depends on the time of year you plan to visit and the type of vacation you prefer. However, there are several items everyone should have on their packing list, whether embarking on a family getaway, a girls’ weekend, or a bucket-list trip to Mardi Gras.
A Day Bag
A compact yet quality day back is essential for every New Orleans trip. You’ll likely find yourself walking long distances throughout town, from the Lake Pontchartrain waterfront to the Mississippi River, Frenchman Street, and everywhere in between.
A day bag allows you to pack plenty of money, sunscreen, bug spray, extra layers, a phone charger, and an umbrella for long days out exploring. The best daypack is one that’s lightweight and waterproof. Use the same daypack for your NOLA adventures for your carry-on to save space.
Temperatures are generally warm in New Orleans. You’ll probably only need a light jacket for nights out. A light rain coat is ideal for the city’s sudden downpours.
A lightweight jacket will also tuck easily into your dag bag when not in use.
New Orleans sees a lot of rain, and that means a lot of mosquitoes. You won’t be able to fly with bug spray in your carry-on luggage, but it’s a must-have item if you’re traveling with a checked bag.
You can also purchase bug spray upon arrival in New Orleans, but you’ll likely need it for your first evening in the city. Packing bug spray means you don’t have to run out and buy it when dusk falls and the mosquitoes start biting.
Rain is common in New Orleans, but the downpours are often followed by the sun, heat, and humidity. Sunscreen is an essential item to protect everyone in your group from the sun’s harmful rays.
Again, this is a product you can purchase in the city, but it’s not always available right when you need it. Carry sunscreen in your day bag so it’s within reach throughout the day.
New Orleans is one of the rainiest cities in the U.S., receiving about 64 inches of rain per year. A compact umbrella can protect you from the hot summer sun and those classic New Orleans downpours. This is an item you’ll be grateful you packed no matter the season.
Comfortable Walking Shoes
Taxis are abundant in the Big Easy, but we believe the best way to explore is on foot. That’s because New Orleans offers surprises around every corner, including unforgettable hole-in-the-wall eateries, unique museums, dive bars, and more. Comfortable walking shoes make nonstop days strolling from one must-visit site to another much more pleasant.
New Orleans is a casual city, so you’ll find yourself wearing your comfortable sneakers or sandals throughout the day and often out on the town at night.
Perhaps New Orleans’s most iconic quality is the diverse music ringing in the streets at all times of the day. It’s one of the many features that make the city so exciting and attractive, but it does not promote uninterrupted sleep.
Pack a set of earplugs for each member of your group, so you can get some rest when the Big Easy isn’t quite ready to call it a night.
New Orleans is a popular drinking destination, and that means you’re going to need plenty of water to squash the hangover and stay hydrated. Bring a water bottle that will accompany you to the airport and every day throughout your trip.
Staying hydrated is especially important in Louisiana, because of the heat and humidity in the summer months. You’ll need to drink plenty of water to replace what you lose when you sweat. Remember, you’ll likely do a lot of walking no matter the time of year you visit.
Everyday Clothing Items
New Orleans is a city that has everything from world-renowned sports arenas, to the best brunch in the state and historic music venues. Fortunately, the city is generally informal, so you can leave the ball gown and tuxedo behind.
The following are the everyday clothing items to add to the list of Big Easy essentials above:
- several casual t-shirts or tank tops
- several casual pants, shorts, or skirts
- leggings (could be worn on your travel day also)
- one or two dressier outfits, such as dressy pants and tops, nice skirts, or a maxi dress
- a light sweater or jacket for nighttime or cool winter days
- one pair of dressy shoes or nice flip-flops in addition to your comfortable sneakers
- socks and underwear
- a swimsuit
You’ll need to pack toiletries for anywhere you travel, and these items don’t vary much from New York City to Florida to New Orleans. However, bug spray and sunscreen are two items you won’t want to forget, as mentioned above.
Remember only to bring travel-sized toiletries if you’ll be traveling with carry-on luggage. And don’t stress if you left something behind. You can find everything you need in NOLA.
Common toiletries to bring include:
- other hair products
- feminine products
- hand sanitizer
- necessary medications
Complete travel toiletry kits for men and women come with all the essentials and are available on Amazon.
What You Won’t Need in New Orleans
There’s no other city in North America quite like New Orleans. It has a laid-back personality that encourages you to bring only what you need. The following are a few items we suggest leaving at home for your trip to the Big Easy.
- High heels: they take up space and add weight to luggage.
- Unnecessary valuables: New Orleans is notoriously laid-back. You won’t need flashy jewelry or an expensive watch to fit in anywhere.
- Formal clothing: Unless you’re traveling to a formal wedding in NOLA, we suggest leaving your long gowns or coat and tie at home. It uses a lot of space in your luggage and is unnecessary, even if you’re seeking NOLA nightlife.
- Heavy-duty jacket: A light jacket is all you’ll need in the city unless a major cold snap hits. We suggest packing layers as opposed to a large, heavy-duty jacket.
In Conclusion: Your New Orleans Packing List
When in doubt, pack light for your trip to New Orleans. A long weekend is an ideal amount of time to spend in the city, and that means you probably won’t need your entire wardrobe. Pack the essentials, and remember you’ll probably pick up a few souvenirs along the way too.
Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot