Packing your suitcase for a job on a luxury yacht is not like being a guest on a luxury yacht. You have limited space, so you need to pack light. As a first time yacht crew member, this might seem like a near impossible task! But we have tips to help you to pack the essentials for your first yacht job.
Choosing A Good Suitcase, Bag Or Travel Backpack
Before you even start deciding what to pack, you need to know what you’re going to be packing your stuff in. A hard, square-type suitcase is not going to cut it, as hard suitcases are really problematic for onboard storage. Use a collapsible bag instead, such as a backpack, sports bag or duffel bag that has wheels at one end for ease of lugging from one point to another.
Try to pack your clothes as efficiently as possible by rolling each item rather than folding (which helps with wrinkles), which also helps leave space for bulkier items like toiletries and gadgets.
No yachtie could live without flip-flops. You may wear deck shoes while dockwalking, but as soon as you get that job you will live most of your yachting life in flip-flops, or even barefoot. Also pack a shoe that can be solely used indoors on the boat, as it will improve your life a great deal!
Storage space in crew cabins is extremely limited – you risk getting off on the wrong foot with your cabin-mate if you try to force masses of clothes into the tiny shared hanging space. Once the season starts you’ll be wearing your uniform or PJs most of the time anyway.
Weather and season also plays a big role in what you pack. Make sure that what you have is interchangeable and can be layered: a couple of sets of warm clothes and a warm jacket such as a puffer that squishes up small for packing is perfect. Other than that, bring casual summer clothes and opt for a few tops and bottoms in basic colours that you can easily mix and match. Swimwear, a beach towel or sarong and sunglasses really are the staples of a yachting wardrobe. On that note, good sunglasses are really important: get polarised lenses if possible, especially if going for a job on deck. It’s a good idea to pack a good pair of sneakers too, and a comfy pair of tracky pants and sweater top or hoodie for chilling out watching movies on watch or in the crew house. And of course a watch to help you stay punctual.
But you also need to pack some stuff if you’re not going to be casting off right away, and for your landbase whilst you wait in-between charters. But keep this to a minimum as you can always buy whatever you need once you’ve got that job – or are back from the job.
Pack mostly casual clothes. If you have a pair of old shorts and an old Tshirt, pack them too – you may be asked to do some grubby work while dayworking, and while most boats will provide a uniform for you to daywork in, others won’t. You don’t want to be paid, only to have to spend a chunk of your pay on a new pair of shorts because you ruined your good ones.
Another tip for female crew is to pack a white or skin-tone tank top, as sometimes your uniform may be transparent, so that tank top will be more than welcome! A nude bra is another good item to have for the same reason.
When you get a job on a yacht you won’t have to buy the basics such as: shower gel, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, shaving cream, razors and blades (some yachts), sunscreen or moisturizer as many yachts provide basic crew toiletries. However, bring small travel size versions of specific brands you like, to tide you over whilst on-land, and also just in case your vessel doesn’t have all of the above. Don’t bring a truckload of cosmetics and other products to clutter up your cabin bathroom with though, instead, if you are wearing make-up, consider basics that don’t take up a lot of space – like a multi-purpose base/BB Cream or moisturiser and mascara.
As you’re going to be working long hours, Red Bull or other energy drinks may work for a while, but is not a long-term solution. Bring vitamins and other health supplements, that will help keep you healthy on board.
Tech, Gadgets & Books
A USB stick (and a spare) for your CV and other documents. Laminate original documents such as certificates and email yourself scanned copies of these, your passport, driving license and credit cards. Get an international driving license if possible, but this is not critical. Don’t forget your global adaptor plug and an unlocked smartphone you can put a local sim card in. Some movies on your hard drive and books on your Kindle for those occasions you want to hide out in your cabin and get some ‘me’ time.
If you have a light, small laptop or iPad do bring it, but make sure you have travel insurance (health and theft). Forget your massive camera with all the fancy lenses and stick with your smartphone camera. Less is more! Tip: download books or movies before you leave your strong land internet connection-you’ll be unpleasantly surprised at how slow the internet is on many superyachts, and captains often will restrict your access to preserve bandwidth for the guests.
You might also want to pack noise cancelling headphones for watching movies, and/ or ear plugs to help you sleep (close quarters).
Personal Items – Sentimental Stuff
Items that might help you relax, feel at home and less homesick might be nice to pack as well. Some ideas include photos of family or friends (remember that the internet might be really slow, or sometimes restricted for crew to use – so you’re going to have to live without Facebook & Insta!), journal, essential oils, a sleeping mask etc. You’ll need moments of comfort when stress runs high.
Nice to Have Items Where Space Allows
For the days where you do get a break, it’s really nice to have your own set of beach basics/equipment such as a snorkel, mask, fins and possibly a wetsuit. But again – only if you really have the space, you might be able to borrow from another crew member, or the extra equipment on the yacht.
The best way to decide if you should pack something or not, is “when in doubt, leave out”. This little mantra should help you get through your packing for your first yacht job.