What is a ‘Go-Bag’?
A cruise go-bag (or bug-out bag) is simply a small bag or backpack that contains items you will need or want to have handy when you disembark at a port of call for an excursion. This can be a big backpack, a purse, a tote bag, or a collapsible/portable backpack. It is up to you, and what you feel comfortable carrying.
When you are on a cruise, you will be stopping at many ports-of-call. Here you will get out and explore the cities and town, perhaps with a planned excursion or on your own. There are many variables that can arise – such as weather conditions, length of the day, access to clean water, access to food, etc. You can be prepared for various situations by having a travel go-bag with you to anticipate particular needs.
Cruises are known for having very tight itineraries, and when the boat comes into ports, it can be very early in the morning, so you will want to have a bag you can just ‘grab and go’ when you wake up. This will help you maximize your time in the port.
This can be a big backpack, a purse, a tote bag, or a collapsible/portable backpack. When it comes to a cruise go-bag, I recommend smaller is better. You want the ability to move freely, and not be burdened by the unnecessary weight. Plus, you will want to have room for souvenirs.
A zip-up hoodie is a great item to have on hand in case it gets chilly where you are. The zip-up kind is better than pull-over because this way you can leave it open if needed. Pullovers are an all or nothing situation.
A light jacket that is suitable for a variety of weather conditions is a great option. It should be able to act as a windbreaker, be waterproof, and warm and preferably with a hood. Compact and foldable is best for travel to not take up too much room in your luggage.
A good compact umbrella is always a great idea to have in your ‘go-bag’. Some destinations like Alaska or Norway are notoriously wet and rainy, while in some tropical destinations rain occurs regularly due to the humidity.
We also bring an inexpensive rain poncho from the dollar store. These take up very little space in your luggage and save you a few bucks if the weather turns. Cruise ships charge $5 -10 per poncho.
Bring your own reusable water bottle. You may not have access to trustworthy/safe drinking water where you are. Staying hydrated will ensure health and well-being as well.
Hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes, and wet wipes should always be on hand when you travel to help prevent disease or illness. Have these items in your cruise go-bag at all times.
A small travel bottle of non-aerosol sunscreen in your go-bag ensures you can reapply sun protection when you are out. You will want to bring sunscreen regardless of the cruise destination. You can get sunburnt in snowy destinations like Alaska and Norway, as well.
Insect repellent will help keep biting insects off of you when you are out exploring. Non-aerosol is best and you should bring enough so you can offer to your companions who forgot, as most people do.
You never know how long it will be between meals when you are out exploring the new city, or out on an excursion. Toss a couple high protein or energy bars in your go-bag so you have access to some nutrition when you are out. Hunger can ruin your day rather quickly. Having a small selection of healthy snack items on hand is going to keep your energy up and prevent fatigue.
Sugary snacks should be avoided because they do not provide real nutrition and can lead to more drastic crashes.
Pro tip: grab some fruit (apples/bananas), a small box of cereal, or granola bars from the cruise breakfast buffet and pop it in your go-bag for the day.
Pack a small supply of anti-inflammatories or pain relievers like Advil, Tylenol, or Aleve in case you get a headache, or pains from hiking and walking.
Travel Tech Bag
In your cruise Go-Bag, bring along your portable tech bag which includes your spare batteries for your camera, a portable charging stick, USB cords, earbuds, etc. When you are on an excursion, you may not have a way to charge your phone, or buy batteries for your camera, etc.
Travel is very walking-intensive, and you may not even realize how much walking you do. Unless you track your steps with a Fitbit. Having wet feet can be very cold, uncomfortable, and lead to infection and blisters. If you have a pair of dry socks in your go-bag, you can feel dry and fresh after a busy day of exploring.
Often overlooked, or forgotten, a couple of plastic bags in your cruise go-bag will be very handy for placing wet or dirty items to avoid affecting everything in your bag. These are good for garbage, dirty clothes, food, etc.
Small notebook and pen
We always carry a little travel journal and pen in our go-bag in order to write down specific notes about where we were, what we did, things to remember, and even travel expenses as well. We like to document our experiences for future TripAdvisor reviews, and for when we write a future blog or social media post.
Pro tip: it won’t hurt to toss a small hairbrush or comb into your go-bag. Trust me, no one wants to spend their day on an excursion with windblown or wet hair.
Having a little go-bag full of essential items will ensure you have a great time when you are out at the port. This bag should never be heavy, or cumbersome. It should just have a few items of convenience. You may not need everything in your go-bag, but when you do, you will be glad you have it with you.
Click on this link for some great Cruising Tips for Beginners.