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What to pack
Since Fiji is a tropical climate, you’ll want to bring clothing suitable for the tropics: swimsuits, t-shirts, polos, shorts, sundresses, sandals and what not. Packing loose-fitting clothing that is cotton or linen will help keep you cool in the tropical sun. One item you will want to acquire when you arrive in Fiji is a sulu. A sulu is a traditional Fijian garment that will come in handy when you are visiting local villages and need to cover your shoulders and knees. Sulus are worn by both men and women and is kind of like a skirt that can be worn as a skirt, sarong or wrap. There are casual sulus and formal sulus, and they are worn morning, noon, and night by Fijian men and women. Being able to wrap yourself in a sulu is an easy fix to the potential problems you could encounter by wearing revealing clothing. If your resort is formal you’ll need attire that is appropriate for restaurants at your resort. You’re on vacation, so dress up if you’d like!
You’ll also want to bring an umbrella and a lightweight raincoat or poncho, as it does rain almost daily during the rainy season. If you will be hiking to the mountain tops, you may want a light fleece.
If you’re going to snorkel or dive, you’ll want to invest in an underwater camera because the marine life is amazing! A Go-Pro is a good choice because it is waterproof and works for every outdoor activity imaginable.
Additional items to consider: backpack or fanny pack, sunhat, sunscreen, shoes suitable for hiking, a waterproof phone case (we used these cave tubing in Belize and jet skiing in Key West and they really are waterproof- great for phones and cash), an adapter for charging phones, cameras, etc. that fits Fiji outlets (240 volts, AC 50Hz, three-pin power points- the same as AUS and NZ) so you’re not stuck without a phone, a large bag that can be used at the beach and any markets you visit, water shoes/reef sandals, waterproof band-aids (for when you get a cut on the coral) and any specialized items you require, such as camera lenses, snorkel and mask, etc.
Looks Like Happy’s Fiji Vacay Wish List:
Red Hibiscus Pareo This is a scarf that can be used as a dress, wrap, sarong or scarf!
Herschel Supply Backpack (I LOVE my Herschel Supply backpack. I bought it years ago while on vacation and have used it on every vacation, and as my laptop bag, ever since. It has held up perfectly and it has plenty of pouches for my stuff, yet simple enough that I’m not losing my things in it.)
Do Not Disturb Floppy Beach Hat (OK, this is the last thing I need, because I have several of these beach hats, but I must have it. Annnnnnnndddddd “add to cart!”)
Gifts? Yes. Small, token gifts for the locals in villages you visit are greatly appreciated and go a long way.
Ideas for children include small toys, crayons, chalk, bubbles (watch liquid ounce travel restrictions), stickers, character band-aids, school supplies and pens, mini playdough cans, inflatable balls and water balloons. (If you bring inflatable balls, bring a pump, too. Leave it with an adult so the kids can inflate their balls after you leave.) Another nice gift is string for bracelet making and instructions on how to make “friendship” bracelets. This is a great kit that can be shared among the local kids.
Gifts for adults are easier- they will gladly accept the shirt off your back. If you can plan to leave behind any clothing you can they would really appreciate it! Some people pack an extra suitcase of t-shirts they no longer wear to give to the villagers. It’s difficult to get goods in Fiji, so clothing is much appreciated. Another sought after, and very easy to pack item to gift, is acoustic guitar strings! These are in high demand and difficult to get in Fiji. Another great item that is in high demand is reading glasses. These are small to pack and can even be found for $1 each at Dollar Tree.
Your gift to the village chief is easy, and can be purchased in Fiji- a kava root. This is a customary gift and should be presented to the chief once you arrive in the village.
Final gifting tip: If you have a Polaroid camera and can take photos of the villagers you will be a huge hit. If you’re thinking of buying a Polaroid, check out this set! It has everyyyything you could need and looks like so much fun! Photos, and photo development, are not easy to come by in Fiji and many people do not have any photos of themselves or their families. If you want, you could use your regular camera or phone camera and mail photos to the village when you get home. Just be sure to ask permission to take photos and follow through with sending copies!
- Do you need a passport? It’s kind of important! US residents can check out this article on obtaining (or renewing) a passport.
- About a week or two before our trips I start writing down items to pack as I think of them. This way I have a better chance of remembering to pack easy to forget items and I don’t have to purchase them in pricey resort sundry shops. (Think contact eyedrops, allergy meds, extra earbuds, etc.)
- Make copies of important documents, such as your passport, ID, credit cards, bank info, reservation info, etc. and keep it separate from the actual documents. If you are traveling out of the country be sure to have copies of your passport and extra passport photos. In a pinch you may still be able to travel if your passport is lost or stolen. You should also alert your bank that you will be traveling so there are no issues with your accounts or credit cards.
- Change the lock screen on your phone to a screenshot of your “in case of emergency” contact info and info on how to reach you if you misplace your phone and someone finds it. This way if your phone is locked, the information needed is available without the passcode.
- The best travel tip I have ever heard is to take half as much clothing, and twice as much money, as you think you will need. This is so true! You probably know from experience that you overpack and don’t wear half of the clothing you brought. If this is the case, you also know that because you brought too much clothing, anything you bought on your trip is almost impossible to fit in your already stuffed suitcase! And, you’ve probably gone on a vacation and thought, “shoot! I really want to <do something awesome> but I don’t have enough money! Since I started following this advice I have been a much happier camper! I’m able to fit more in my suitcase upon our return, and we’re able to do more spur of the moment activities because we’ve brought a little extra money. If you save up for an additional month you’ll be happy to have that extra money with you. And if you don’t spend it? Great! Use it to jumpstart your next vacation savings!
- Consult the locals about restaurants and hotspots. We had the best Jamaican chicken ever by asking a local in Jamaica where to eat that wasn’t flooded with tourists. He took us down the road and around a corner to a restaurant, ate with us and told us some great stories. In exchange, we treated him to lunch. It was one of our best lunch experiences because it was authentic.
- And last, but possibly most importantly, be flexible! Things happen. There are delays. Reservations are lost. It rains. None of these things should ruin your vacation- not even for a day. Go with the flow and make the most of the day. This also applies to local customs. They may not be in line with what you’re used to, but they are the way of the world you are in. Be courteous and respectful.
Do you feel like you’re ready to plan your trip of a lifetime to Fiji? I’m ready. Sign me up! An overwater bungalow is calling and I must go….
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