What To Pack for a Maine Summer Vacation

Greetings and happy hump day! I’ve had a few requests, so today I’m sharing what to pack for a Maine summer vacation, along with what I brought on our trip.

I always feel like a fraud when I create packing posts because I am probably the world’s worst over-packer. But hey! I always have all the options I need. When I try to pack light, I always end up regretting it.

Actually, I think I did a pretty good job this time — mainly because I didn’t bring anything for blog pictures, so I just packed for our vacation. Plus we’ve done this trip so many times that I pretty much have it down by now.

My parents have a home on a lake in the Bangor/Ellsworth area, so we take a family vacation up here almost every summer, and I’ve had lots of practice packing for this trip.

You can see more of my Maine posts through the years, and these are my best Maine vacation packing tips.

What To Pack for a Maine Summer Vacation

What To Pack for a Maine Summer Vacation

#1. Start with the shoes.

When packing for any destination, I always start with shoes. (See more expert packing tips from Mary Fowler.)

Your activities tend to dictate your shoes, so think through the activities you’ll be doing and select your shoes first. This single tip has made me a MUCH better packer.

Our Maine vacations are always very casual, and they often require some walking and/or hiking, so I packed my running shoes as well as my new Nike trainers. I didn’t really need both, but I prefer wearing the Nikes for sightseeing because they’re cuter. I wore my running shoes for running (duh) and also for hiking.

(Since publishing this post, I have purchased black running shoes that I can also wear sightseeing or on the plain with joggers or yoga pants. That way one pair of sneakers works for everything.)

What I wore to hike Schoodic Mountain, Maine

(I would also recommend hiking in activewear, not denim shorts and a cotton tank. I was drenched in sweat, and I would have been more comfortable in my running clothes, which is what I typically wear to hike.)

But back to shoes…

I wore my Tory Burch Miller sandals traveling up in the car, and I’ve worn them literally every day I’ve been here at some point. I also packed my Minnie travel flats in case I wanted a closed shoe option that’s nicer than sneakers.

You might also want plastic flip flops and/or water shoes, depending on your activities. Here at the lake, water shoes are a must if you plan to get in the water because it’s very rocky.

Also, more of an athletic sandal can come in handy up here — it really depends on your activities.

All the shoes I brought are neutral colors so they go with anything.

Shoes I Brought to Maine:

#2. Stick with neutral bottoms; bring a mix of shorts and pants.

In addition to all neutral shoes, I packed all neutral bottoms. This made putting outfits together super easy. (It also allowed me to pack almost any top I wanted without having to overthink it my outfits. I knew they’d all go with something.)

The weather in Maine is very unpredictable, and you need an assortment of pants and shorts.

I wore these jeans in the car and brought a second pair in my suitcase. We have a washer/dryer at camp, but I always air dry my jeans, which takes time — especially in humid weather. I don’t want to be without a pair if I need them, so I always bring two, and I’ve worn both.

Beyond that, I brought 3 pairs of denim shorts (2 blue; 1 white) as well as a pair of joggers for hanging out around camp.

I could have gotten by with one pair of blue jean shorts, but I wore my ripped up pair around camp and the other pair when I wanted to look a little nicer. I also wore the white ones a couple of times, so I’m glad I packed them all.

Shorts & Pants I Packed:

#3. Pack an assortment of summer tops.

Because my shoes and jeans were all neutrals, I could basically pack any of my favorite tops and know I had something to wear them with. I threw in a variety of summer tees, tanks, and nicer tops.

I laid them all out on the bed and tried to think about our typical Maine activities, and made sure I had at least one that is appropriate for each occasion.

We do have a washer/dryer at the lake house so I knew I could wash and re-wear some things, but I still packed quite a few tops. I’ve worn all but the navy linen tee, and I plan to wear it during the next leg of our trip in Massachusetts.

My Summer Tops:

#4. Be prepared for chilly mornings and evenings.

It can get quite chilly here in the summertime, so I always pack a few cardigans and sweatshirts.

I usually bring at least one long-sleeve pullover sweatshirt or sweater to wear with shorts — or jeans, if we get a cold snap. It’s been known to happen, but this visit has been warm most of the time.

This year, I packed this star sweatshirt, and I wore it on a rainy day with my white shorts.

What to pack for a Maine summer vacation - long sleeves and shorts are great for in between weather.

I also packed a couple of cardigans and a thin zip-up hoodie. I don’t usually bring two cardigans in addition to a hoodie, but it worked out because one of my daughters ended up borrowing one a few times.

I like to throw a cardigan on over my pajamas when I get up in the morning, and I also wear them over tees and tanks on chillier days. Even if it’s warm, I always bring one along on day trips in case it’s cooler on the coast or in a restaurant, or wherever we’re going.

Sweaters & Sweatshirts I Brought:

#5. Bring a large tote as well as a smaller bag for sightseeing.

This year I carried a mid-size shoulder bag as my purse and brought my large Everlane tote for all the extras — including my laptop and Kindle, charging cords, etc.

Usually I put all my purse items in the tote with my laptop and bring a small crossbody for sightseeing. Either way, it’s nice to have two options.

When we take day trips, I bring my tote in the car with all the things because I never know what I might end up needing, and I throw a crossbody bag inside so when we get where we’re going, I can put the essentials in the crossbody and carry that around town.

What to pack for a Maine summer vacation: layers are your friend!

Another good bag to have along is a lightweight backpack, especially if you plan to do hiking/biking activities.

In our case, my husband always carries the backpack so I don’t need one.

#6. Don’t forget a raincoat.

I always bring a lightweight rain jacket with me to Maine because it usually rains for several days, and I hate being wet and cold. That’s also why I packed the Minnie flats — to have a closed shoe option that’s nicer than a sneaker.

We lucked out this trip and didn’t have a ton of rain. The two days that were rainy, we stayed inside, but I think this is my first summer Maine vacation that I haven’t used my rain jacket.

Miscellaneous Add-Ons:

Beyond all of that, I packed two pairs of pajamas — short ones and long ones. Again, when going to New England in the summertime, you have to be prepared to be cold or hot or anywhere in between. I’ve worn both.

I also packed a bathing suit and my running clothes.

A baseball hat is always good to have for hiking (and for throwing on when you don’t want to fix your hair. Ha!)

I try to keep my jewelry simple. On the trip up, I wore silver studs, my silver link bracelet, and a silver pendant, and I wore a combination of those just about every day. I also brought pearl earrings and silver hoops, as well as a few gold bangles and gold drop earrings, but I didn’t really need them.

Of course, toiletries and sunscreen are a given. Oh, and bug spray! FYI, my T3 travel dryer is on sale at Hautelook!

I think that about covers it.

What to Pack for a Maine Summer Vacation

The main thing to remember when packing for a Maine summer vacation is that you will have a variety of weather conditions, and you want to be prepared for all of it — heat, cold, rain, wind, etc. Since you need a lot of options, keep it simple and make sure everything goes together so you can mix and match.

If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer in the comments!

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35 Responses

  1. Ha.. you’re so right when it comes to Maine and New England weather… its pretty close to ours. In fact yesterday was suppose to be a little cooler with rain … we’ll it was when we left the house.. by the time I got in town the sun was out and super hot ( humidity) again… I told my daughter I’m going to start keeping a change of clothes in the car… lol …
    Sounds like you’ve had a great time so far.. enjoy Boston.. Do you ever go to the Wrentham outlets?

  2. Jo-Lynne, I think you did a great job packing for your trip since you had to consider a variety of activities and possible weather scenarios. Have a great time in Boston!

  3. I agree with packing for hot or cold or rainy weather on a trip. We went to Chicago for the weekend and Friday it was hot and humid- shorts and a tank. Sat morning I made the mistake of wearing shorts and a tank to bike in and I was soaked in sweat- workout clothing would have been wise in 98 degree weather. We went to a play, came out of the theater and the temperature dropped 25 degrees. It rained and rained and was 73 the rest of the weekend. Go figure! My husband thought I  was crazy, but I was comfortable thanks to my over packing. 

  4. Going on cruise to Alaska soon and have to be prepared for all weather! Plus, no laundry! This confirms a lot, but WILL be overpacking!😉

  5. We rent a house in Old Orchard Beach, ME, for a week every August. My packing list is similar to yours, although I do pack fewer shoes (one essential pair being merrell water shoes, which are good for both hiking and the beach). I always include a fleece zip-up, that doubles as a “bathrobe,” and silk thermal bottoms, which can warm up my sleepshirt or even be worn under jeans on a chilly day. Love Maine, hope you enjoyed your trip!

  6. You looked fabulous in all that you packed for your trip. Like you, I’m an over packer and I’m not sure that I will ever get out of that habit! Question about the Tory Burch sandals – I see that you were wearing them on the beach. I have wanted to purchase a pair of these sandals for awhile, but I’ve been worried about scuffing & ruining them. Since they are almost $200, I don’t want to invest in the shoes if they scuff easily. Have you had any issues? Thanks!!

    1. Hey Kim. I am not precious with them and they have held up great. If you have concerns, the patent ones are more durable. I’ve worn them to the pool, the beach, even got them wet several times. They’re amazing. These are softer and definitely show more stains on the footbed but they aren’t marked up and look like new when they’re on. I heard a baby wipe works well for removing stains on the footbed. I need to try that.

  7. Your packing list is perfect for western Canada too!😂 We can have 4 seasons in 1 day. I agree with you: nice to have lots of options when doing a road trip and not confined by air line luggage weight restrictions. No need to pack light. Enjoy Boston!

  8. Great post!  Thank you so much!  All of our traveling is done via our vehicle now and since there’s only the two of us, I have more space.   For our upcoming beach trip, my goal is going to be to pack neutral bottoms so that I can take more of my favorite tops.  I have always taken to much jewelry, so I am going to change that habit.  The one real issue I have is that I carry full sizes in all of my toiletries.  They are all in one bag that I can just pick up and go.  And Larry will use my shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, so I do need more of those items.  I use mesh bags for items that will go in drawers, so they aren’t touching any surfaces and remain easy for me to see.  Hopefully, I will adopt your neutral color shoes idea since it makes so much sense.  I hope y’all have a safe travel day!

  9. Loved the outfits. Thanks for sharing with us and hope the next leg of your vacation is great.
    What is the name of the Louis Vuitton bag you’re holding in the one photo? 
    Safe travels!

  10. This is so helpful, I always dread packing!  How does the Splendid grey v-neck tee run?  This looks like a good one.  Thank you!  

  11. I just returned from a British Isles cruise and I actually thought about you several times while we were there…mostly because I was so thankful to have the Splendid (I think that’s the brand) black waterfall cardigan that you’ve recommended in the past. Besides being so soft and comfy, it is a perfect weight for when it’s just a little chilly and still looks amazing after being folded up in a backpack most of the day. I also loved having the the olive cargo pants you suggested. I know I took some other items from your blog, but those two items got the most wear. Thanks so much for what you do!

    1. That’s so great to hear. It actually occurred to me as I wrote this post that this is the first time I’ve traveled without that cardigan. Ha! And I almost brought the cargo pants but decided I didn’t need them. Both great versatile pieces tho!

  12. I am a chronic over-packer and your idea about neutral bottoms should be helpful. 
    On another note, I haven’t received your emails yesterday or today. I had this problem in the past, but I thought it had been fixed. Any ideas?  Enjoy your vacation!

  13. Great packing list. I don’t think you overpacked.  Enjoy the rest of your time here in the Northeast. I am sitting on my patio now and the weather is perfection. It looks like we’re in for a good run of summer weather. Perfect for site seeing. 

  14. I really enjoy reading about your time in Maine & getting your packing suggestions! My family is hoping to fly into Boston next summer, rent a car, & then make our way into Canada. Stopping in Maine is on our list of things to do! I want to eat Lobster Rolls 3 times a day—ha, ha!

  15. Main is so beautiful in the summer. Paul’s parents used to have a place on China Lake in Maine and if it was a heat wave I was actually warm enough to swim, ha.

  16. Loved your packing list and descriptions – I also start with shoes and think about activities as I am packing. Great to have that validated 🙂 One thing I was concerned about was your plan to take your laptop, Kindle and cords in your tote with the option to leave that in the car and take your smaller crossbody with you. Here in Northern CA (San Francisco area and really any tourist spot) we have so much “smash & grab” crime (thieves smash car windows – especially those with out-of-town plates – and grab whatever is in the car/trunk) that there are signs EVERYWHERE not to leave anything in your car. Hope you are careful.

  17. Very helpful, fun post and super timely! I leave soon for a trip to Nova Scotia where the climate and activities will be similar to what you described in Maine.
    Thanks! Love your blog so much.

    1. Yes, they certainly do! I don’t think I’ll never be as efficient as you are, but they’re very helpful. 🙂 If I ever travel with just a carryon, I will know how to pare down.

    1. I haven’t ever had either so I can’t say for sure, but I think the BD is thicker. Both are supposed to be supremely soft, but without comparing, I’m not sure what makes the BD so much more $$$.

  18. These are great tips! I don’t know if I’ll ever make it to Maine, (although New England is on my bucket list!), but these are great guidelines for any trip. Thanks for all you do. I look forward to your posts every day!!

  19. This was perfect! Thank you for suggestions I was totally lost until I read this!
    Well wishes!

  20. Thanks for this! My husband and I are moving to the Ellsworth/Bar Harbor area from Minnesota – all I’m curious about is the fashion!! lol!

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