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17 Top Los Angeles Packing List Items for 2023 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

17 Top Los Angeles Packing List Items for 2023 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring
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Los Angeles is a city steeped in history, the lure of golden futures, and a certain unwavering, restless type of reinvention – the sprawling west coast metropolis is one that can’t be easily defined.

Whether your ideal Los Angeles vacation involves pleasing your ears with the live music scene, getting miles in touring notable neighborhoods, or riding waves and picnicking on some of the state’s most notable beaches, you’ll want these top travel essentials on your packing list. We also included tips for what to wear in L.A., how to pack for the seasons, and answers to common FAQs when traveling to Los Angeles.

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What to Pack for Los Angeles - 17 Essentials

  • 1. Packing Cubes

    If you’ve ever spent far too many minutes trying to locate a pair of socks or a charging cable in an overflowing suitcase, then you’ll surely agree that organization should be a key priority on any vacation, be it a long weekend jaunt or a two-week adventure to the City of Angels. These packing cubes help things tidy and accessible, ensuring you’re not wasting valuable time in Lose Angeles playing hide-and-seek with your belongings.

    Packing Cubes

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 2. LifeStraw Water Bottle

    Having a reusable water bottle is a must, and having a straw that filters your water is a big, big plus, but when you can combine the best of both worlds, consider yourself travel-ready in the most golden of ways. LifeStraw has built a pretty devoted fan base for a good reason, and this water bottle with a built-in filter will keep you hydrated, free from bacteria, and doing your part to minimize unnecessary single-use waste.

    LifeStraw Water Bottle

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 3. VPN

    These days more than ever, nearly every one of your electronic devices is being watched in some way, which means you’re nearly always at risk of having some pretty important information compromised in a big way. It’s an unsettling thought, which is why a VPN helps put your mind at ease, especially when traveling to a major city like Los Angeles, by making your internet movements safer, smoother, and far more private.

    vpn

    View options at NordVPN ➜

  • 4. Cooling Towel

    You never think you need a cooling towel until a heat wave sneaks up on you and you find yourself sweating in the sun for hours thinking: I wish I had a quick way to cool down! We’ve all been there, and if you’ve ever used a cooling towel, then you know they’re the bee’s knees. If you’re venturing to Los Angeles during the summer or shoulder seasons, this one will be your best friend when the temperatures start to soar.

    cooling towel

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 5. Neck Wallet

    Never underestimate the importance of keeping your money and small valuables hidden discreetly, while still being accessible. Neck wallets like this tried and true Hero pouch are musts for super-populous cities like Los Angeles, where you’ll be surrounded by the unexpected at all times. Your phone, keys, cash, and bank cards all fit in this discreet and convenient neck wallet, so you don’t have to worry about any valuables getting stolen while you’re out exploring.

    Neck Wallet

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 6. Universal Travel Adapter

    While you may not need a travel adapter if you’re visiting Los Angeles from North America, I never travel without mine. I find that the two extra USB plugs, in addition to the main plug, make it easy to plug all of my devices at once without scattering them across different sockets in the room, thus minimizing the risk of me forgetting one.

    Peru power adapter

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 7. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

    The day you start traveling with a portable charger is the day you’ll never leave home without one again. A dependable, fast-charging power bank is somewhat of a lifeline for trips of all kinds, and this barely-there charger from reputable brand Anker really delivers. It’s quite a delight to juice up your phone- or any other USB-powered device- in the comfort of your pack without interrupting your Los Angeles plans, and it should be one of the first things you pack.

    Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 8. Luggage Locks

    Whether you’re checking a bag or not, luggage locks are a must when traveling. I use them to secure my day bags from pick-pockets when I’m out exploring, lock lockers at tourist attractions, and of course to secure my luggage whenever I check any bags.

    luggage locks

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 9. Windproof Travel Umbrella

    Los Angeles may not be known for its wet or windy weather, but that doesn’t mean a surprise shower or storm can’t catch you off guard. This lightweight umbrella packs tight and will become your best friend when the weather takes an unexpected turn. It also works well as a sunshade if you’re out and about exploring the city for hours on end!

    Windproof Travel Umbrella

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 10. Tote Bag

    Maybe you’ll stop at a food market on a quick stroll around West Hollywood, or maybe you’ll buy a spontaneous gift or two at a charming artist co-op in the heart of downtown: you never know when a tote bag will come in handy! Especially if you don’t have a daypack on you, a lightweight tote bag is a great way to keep the essentials without carrying a heavier shoulder bag- plus, they’re much easier to wash!

    Tote Bag

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 11. Quick-Dry Travel Towel

    Chances are you’ll be spending at least a little time at the beach on your Los Angeles trip, and what would a seashore outing be without a dip in the cool Pacific? A quality, quick-dry microfiber towel like this travel-sized one from Hero won’t take up much space in your day bag, but it’ll soak up water like a sponge and will be dry before you know it.

    travel towel

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 12. Swimsuit Cover-Up

    You can’t visit L.A. without a visit to the beach or at least a dip in the pool. I love this swimsuit cover-up because it’s comfortable and cute and perfect for moving from pool or beachside to a restaurant or inside the hotel.

    Swimsuit Cover-Up

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 13. Hanging Toiletry Bag

    Having all your toiletries in one neatly organized bag is akin to having all your food on one plate instead of three: there’s no need to spread out the goods when they can coexist in one easily-accessed space! Point in case with this sizeable toiletry bag from Mossio, which offers three compartments to keep all your ritualistic thingamabobs in order, and a sturdy hanger feature to get it suspended on a wall instead of taking up counter space.

    Hanging Toiletry Bag

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 14. Universal Waterproof Phone Case

    The greater Los Angeles area has a bounty of beautiful beaches that will no doubt impress and warrant a photo session or ten, so play it safe by keeping one of your most important possessions in a trusty waterproof case when venturing on an ocean-side adventure. Phones do not come cheap these days, and the time it takes to fix or replace a phone that’s accidentally fallen in the water is something you don’t want to contend with during a trip.

    Universa Waterproof

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 15. Travel Insurance

    Rest assured that mishaps can happen everywhere, often when you least expect something to go wrong. That’s exactly why travel insurance should be a no-brainer; it’s just not worth the risk to worry about whether a Los Angeles accident or theft will be covered when a simple purchase of travel insurance can alleviate the stress of nearly any what-if scenario. We like to use TravelInsurance.com to find and compare plans from top companies every time we travel. Even if you don’t leave the country, travel insurance is a huge help in case of cancelations or any lost or stolen personal items.

    Travel Insurance

    Compare policies at TravelInsurance.com ➜

  • 16. Emergen-C

    With so much to do in a bustling metropolis like Los Angeles, you’ll probably be running your body non-stop breathing in all of the sights and sounds and experiences available at your disposal. That’s all the more reason to keep your energy high, cells hydrated, and your immunity performing its best tune during your vacation, and a packet of Emergen-C once every couple of days is an easy way to keep you functioning at your best.

    Emergen-C

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 17. Sunscreen

    When you think of California, you probably think of sunshine- and you’re right to do so! Los Angeles averages about 285 sunny days a year, and unless you’re planning on staying indoors during your trip, be sure to lather up with sunscreen whenever you step outside. Your skin is worth protecting. It’s as simple as that.

    Sunscreen

    View on Amazon.com ➜

What to Wear in Los Angeles

You may already have your entire Los Angeles vacation planned, or you may be more of the spontaneous type who takes things as inspiration strikes. Either way, you’ll want your suitcase to more or less contain variations of the same three outfits: a casual, breathable and comfortable outfit fit for exploring the city; an outfit that will make a subtle impression when out on the town; and lastly, something for more dynamic, potentially sweat-inducing activities, whether it’s a running tour of downtown or a hike in the Santa Monica hills. Then, of course, there are the extra essentials, like warmer layers for those cooler Los Angeles evenings or swimwear for a trip to the beach or a hotel pool.
What Should WOMEN Wear in Los Angeles? – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).

Ladies may be tempted to over-pack for their Los Angeles trip, and it’s understandable: the city is one of the fashion capitals of the world, after all. If you pack the right items, though, you can mix and match pieces and still make a statement, all without adding unnecessary weight to your suitcase. A stylish jumpsuit, for instance, can easily transition from daytime strolls to nighttime activities just by adding some accessories and a pop of lipstick. Or, layer a lightweight leather motorcycle jacket with a fitted camisole and jeans, and you’ll impress even while wearing your athletic sneakers! Style is mostly about confidence and how you carry yourself, and Los Angelinos will appreciate that more than your garb, anyway.

What Should MEN Wear in Los Angeles? – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample men’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).

Fellas have it quite easy in Los Angeles because you could probably get away with wearing a funky button down shirt, casual khakis, and Vans for everything from a night out to a lunch meeting with business partners. That doesn’t mean you should limit yourself, though. You’ll want comfortable outfits for laying low or exploring Los Angeles gems outside of the city center, be it beaches or trails or boardwalk bike rides, and some layers for when it cools down at night.

Dressing for the Seasons in Los Angeles

Winter – December, January, February

Winter in Los Angeles is nowhere near cold, per se, but it has its fair share of cooler- and wetter- days. Los Angeles is generally very dry, but January tends to be the rainiest month of the year. You’ll want to bring all the summer essentials, plus a long sleeve button-down, a sweater or sweatshirt, and a rain shell and umbrella in case it rains. Winter temperatures generally range from 63°F to 85°F.

Spring – March, April, May

Spring offers some of the mildest months of the year in Los Angeles, and it’s a delightful season for exploring the city.  Spring is usually a very pleasant time of year to visit, but just how warm it gets depends on wind patterns and various weather systems bouncing off the ocean. Pack a balance of short sleeves and long sleeves, plus layers for those cooler days and nights. Average temperatures are similar to winter, ranging from 65°F to 85°F

Summer – June, July, August, September

Summer in Los Angeles is hot, hot, hot.  Sometimes, though, they can soar into the triple digits. Bring shorts, tanks, short sleeves, and swimwear, and a lightweight jacket or sweater for outings near the seashore will always come in handy. Just how hot it gets depends on whether you’re close to the ocean or tucked deep in the central city. Average temperatures range from about 80°F to 95°F.

Fall – October, November

Like Spring, it’s one of the more pleasant times of year to be visiting. Pack like you would for summer since you’ll have your fair share of sunny storybook weather and warm temperatures, but don’t forget long pants, long sleeves, and a light jacket for when things start cooling off later in the day. Fall is a great time to visit as it’s not as hot as summer but still warm and sunny. Average temperatures for fall in Los Angeles range anywhere from 65°F. to 85°F.
Dressing Appropriately for the Activity – (Click to expand)
Beach Days: Los Angeles County boasts over a dozen renowned beaches, each with its own special character, and we highly recommend taking the time to explore as many of them as you can. You’ll definitely want to pack your swimsuit, then- one pair of swim trunks for men or one swimsuit for the ladies should suffice unless you plan on surfing or beach-combing daily. A packable quick-dry towel and a lightweight beach blanket will also be key, and be sure to pack a small lunch bag and fill up your water bottle before making the trip, too.

Nightlife: Nightlife in Los Angeles ranges from swanky, beat-throbbing clubs to hole-in-the-wall live music saloons and lively night markets filled with street food and street performers. Depending on what kind of party you’re looking for, you might want a colorful, sleek dress for something like an art opening or special dinner downtown, or for men, a more manicured button-down and crisp jeans. If you’re keeping it relaxed with a brewery or pub tour, keep it comfortable and casual.

Hiking and Biking in Los Angeles: Whether you’re renting a beach cruiser and cycling the boardwalk from Santa Monica to Venice (or further!), jogging through some of the beautiful Griffith Park trails, or hiking up to Mount Lee in the Santa Monica mountains to get up close and personal with the iconic Hollywood sign, a solid athletic outfit will be warranted. For women, something like this three-piece set with bike shorts, a sports bra, and a tank is super versatile and right on trend, while for men, classic gym shorts and a tank will tick all the boxes for nearly any athletic activity.

Walking Tour of the City: You can spend months in Los Angeles and still not see it all, but you’ll definitely want to devote some time to exploring various neighborhoods and highlights of the city, like downtown’s fashion district and the Hollywood Stars Walk of Fame, the always eclectic Venice Beach area and its famous canal system, or creative Silver Lake, which is lined with vibrant street art murals, vintage shops, and artsy cafes. You’ll be spending a lot of time on your feet, so comfortable shoes for both him and her are crucial, as is a loose, breathable outfit. We recommend a flowy dress or shorts and a blouse for women or shorts, and a classic tee for men.

What NOT to Bring to Los Angeles

  • 1.DON’T BRING Camping Gear

    Unless you’re traveling to Los Angeles strictly as a launching point for some epic backpacking trip in the California backcountry, leave your camping gear at home. Chances are you’ll be soaking up that city energy and not pitching a tent on some wild terrain!

  • 2.DON’T Bring Too Much Clothing

    You know that packing method where you put all your desired items in a suitcase, then take them all out and only put half of them back in? There’s no need to pack multiples of the same type of garment when you can stick to the 15 items we recommend for him and her and keep it simple.

  • 3.DON’T Bring Too Much Cash

    From food trucks and restaurants to flea-market vendors and mom-and-pop shops, nearly every type of merchant in Los Angeles accepts credit cards these days, so bringing stacks of bills is pretty unnecessary.

  • 4.DON’T Bring a Wetsuit & Surfboard

    If you’re a surf-every-day kind of traveler with a rack of boards that mean a lot to you, by all means, take your quicker with you. For the rest of us, however, rest assure that you can rent boards and a wetsuit at nearly any surf shop, so you can still splash around in California’s waters without taking – and paying for all that extra weight.

  • 5.DON’T Bring Books

    Save the weight for your Los Angeles guidebook, however, and use an electronic reader like a Kindle or Nook for your other desired paperbacks. Not only can you load up on several options before your trip, but you can also buy a book or two from a local Los Angeles bookshop without worrying about how much heavier your suitcase will be.

  • 6.DON’T Bring a Laptop (unless it’s a work trip!)

    If you can help it, leave the laptop at home and don’t tempt yourself with working while on your Los Angeles vacation.

What NOT to Wear in Los Angeles – (Click to expand)
Los Angeles is a jumble of cultures, professions, and people from all walks of life, and the style of the city’s patrons will reflect that. In general, though, you’ll notice a certain casual-cool, effortless way of dressing amongst those going about daily life in the city. Unless you’re planning to spend all your time at high-end restaurants and exclusive rooftop parties, there’s simply no need to go overboard and dress like you’re walking the red carpet 24/7. On the other hand, you don’t want to make the wrong impression by living in gym shorts and t-shirts the whole time, so try a little- but just don’t try too hard.

FAQs about Visiting Los Angeles

  • 1. Do I need to rent a car in Los Angeles?

    Do I need to rent a car in Los Angeles

    From subways and buses to taxis and pedicabs, Los Angeles has a range of safe, dependable, and well-connected public and private transportation options that will easily get you from point A to point B at all hours of the day. Depending on how long you have in the city and the parking situation where you’re staying, it may be worthwhile to rent a car for a few days, but really only if you want to explore outside of central Los Angeles, like taking a drive down California’s iconic Route 1 or checking out the beautiful beaches of Laguna and points south.

  • 2. How big of a city is Los Angeles?

    “The City of Angels” is the second largest city in the United States, with nearly 12.5 million residents, and it’s the most populous city in California by far. Its residents form one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse populations in the country.

  • 3. What is the air quality like in Los Angeles?

    What is the air quality like in Los Angeles

    Let’s be real here: one of the largest cities in the world is bound to have more pollution than some high-elevation mountain town, so it should be no surprise that the air quality in Los Angeles is, well, not the best. Unfortunately, pollutant and smog levels are always high in the city, and especially during wildfire season, the air quality may be even worse with smoke from the greater area. We recommend wearing a face mask if you’re easily affected by poor air quality.

  • 4. Is Los Angeles safe?

    Los Angeles has nearly 100 neighborhoods, and safety and crime will vary greatly from one to the other. Fret not, though, because generally, Los Angeles is considered far safer than one may expect, especially in the neighborhoods that the majority of visitors will be frequenting. Just stay sharp, be smart about where you go and when, and keep your valuables in check by using small safety measures like a neck wallet and luggage lock.

  • 5. Is Los Angeles expensive to visit?

    Is Los Angeles expensive to visit

    Like any big city, an adventure in Los Angeles can be as expensive or budget-conscious as you wish, depending on where you stay, where you eat, how you plan to get around the city, and how often you treat yourself to the whims of third-wave espresso and craft libations. With that said, unless you’re staying with friends or family and cooking your own meals, Los Angeles doesn’t tend to connote the most budget-friendly of places, so if you really want to dive in and get a full sensory experience in the city, plan to spend a little more money than usual.

  • 6. What is the best time of year to visit Los Angeles?

    You’ll be able to enjoy Los Angeles at any time of year, but if it’s as close to perfection as possible that you’re seeking, try planning a trip during the Spring or Fall seasons, when temperatures tend to be most moderate, the sun is out, and crowds are a bit thinner than the summer or winter seasons.

  • 7. Is there nature in Los Angeles?

    Is there nature in Los Angeles

    Nature may not be the first thing that comes to mind when planning a Los Angeles vacation, but you may be surprised by just how many awe-inspiring gardens, unique parks, and storybook beaches are to be found in the immediate Los Angeles area. Like any major metropolis, though, to see the really good stuff, you’ll have to venture outside of the hustle and bustle, so if you have the time and means to rent a car, a whole world of natural wonders will open up.