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17 Top New Orleans Packing List Items for 2022 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

what to pack for new orleans
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The iconic, lively city of New Orleans has so much to offer visitors. From the incredible cuisine to the soulful music, and all of the history and culture in between, New Orleans is one exciting city to visit.

When you plan a trip to New Orleans you’ll want to be prepared for all of the amazing experiences that await you. We’ve created a complete packing list to help you know what are the essential items to pack, as well as a list of what NOT to bring, how to dress depending on the occasion and the weather, and answers to FAQs about New Orleans.

What to Pack for New Orleans - 17 Essentials

  • 1.

    New Orleans is notorious for its hot and humid weather. You’ll likely be doing a lot of walking around downtown as you explore the French Quarter the riverfront so you’re bound to work up a sweat. A great way to beat the heat is with a cooling towel. All you do is wet the towel, wring it out, and it instantly becomes 20-30 degrees cooler than the outside temperature. It’s a welcome relief from the New Orleans heat.

  • 2.

    We rely on our devices for so many things, especially when traveling. You don’t want to be exploring a new city and have your phone die. You’d have a much harder time finding your way around, ordering a taxi, and getting in touch with someone if you needed to. The best way to avoid a bad situation like that is by packing a small, lipstick-sized portable charger so that you can charge your phone on the go in case it dies while you’re out.

  • 3.

    Packing cubes have completely changed my packing experience. Having a well-organized suitcase makes traveling so much more comfortable and finding things way easier. I love this set in particular because not only do they feel super well-made, but the cardholder on the outside of each packing cube makes it easy to write down and see what’s inside each cube without even having to open them. This set of five packing cubes also includes two laundry/shoe bags that help separate your dirty clothes from the clean ones.

  • 4.

    This is the best DEET-free bug repellent I’ve ever tried. The mosquitoes love me, and this bug spray does an excellent job at keeping them away. It smells great thanks to the natural, bug-repelling essential oils it contains. It’s gentle on skin and won’t stain clothes.

  • 5.

    When it rains in New Orleans, it pours. It’s a good idea to bring a travel umbrella year-round when visiting New Orleans. Summer storms tend to bring the most intense showers, but it does rain a good bit in the other months too. This umbrella is the nicest one I’ve owned. It feels super solid and well-made, but it’s also very compact and easy to carry around.

  • 6.

    Although tap water in the United States is safe to drink, it never hurts to have an extra layer of filtration to ensure your water is as clean as possible. LifeStraw water bottles are the perfect travel companion because you’ll likely want to bring along a water bottle anyway, and with the LifeStraw bottle you get the added bonus of a filter built right into the straw.

  • 7.

    Pick-pocketing can happen in any city. The best way to avoid petty theft is by not keeping valuables in your pockets. This neck wallet holds all of your valuables like your phone, ID, cash, and bank cards while you wear it discreetly under your shirt.

  • 8.

    You’ll likely work up a sweat while you’re outside exploring. You may feel the need for a shower, but going back to your hotel isn’t always the most convenient option. A great alternative to a shower are body wipes. These ones are deodorizing and leave you feeling and smelling fresh.

  • 9.

    I love the versatility of quick-dry travel towels. They are super absorbent and great for drying off. They also work wonderfully as a picnic blanket if you want to sit down outside. They also do a great job of absorbing and wiping away any sweat as a result of New Orlean’s hot and humid days.

  • 10.

    Fit all of the things you’ll need for the day in a compact but spacious daypack. This one is great because when you’re not using it, it folds into one of its own pockets and can be easily packed away. However, when it’s fully expanded it has a 35 liter capacity that will fit all you’ll need to bring with you for a day of exploring.

  • 11.

    A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a way of securing your private, digital information on your devices from potential hackers. If you plan on connecting to public wifi networks like the ones that are found in hotels, Airbnbs, restaurants, and cafes, then you could potentially have valuable information like credit card numbers or passwords stolen. With a VPN, like NordVPN, your information is protected and you don’t have to worry about putting your private information at risk.

  • 12.

    Keep your hands clean and germ-free when exploring a new city with hand sanitizer. Dr. Bronner’s hand sanitizing spray kills 99.9% of germs without any harsh chemicals and is certified organic. It’s moisturizing and comes in two fresh scents of either lavender or peppermint.

  • 13.

    Traveling can be tiring on the body and our immune system can weaken as a result. Staying hydrated is really important to feeling your best when you’re on the go and getting extra vitamin C and minerals will help keep your body’s defenses up. Electrolyte tablets will help you get enough fluids and minerals especially when you’re in such a hot climate like New Orleans where you sweat more and get dehydrated faster.

  • 14.

    Protect your skin and prevent any uncomfortable sunburns with a reliable and reef-safe SPF. I love Sun Bum because they don’t include ingredients that are known to harm you or marine life. Their sunscreen is moisturizing and smells amazing so I actually look forward to putting it on.

  • 15.

    Travel Insurance should not be overlooked. The right plan can cover so many things like doctors visits, stolen items, or trip cancellations. However, not all plans are created equal so it’s important to shop around for one that best suits your needs. We really like using TravelInsurance.com because it allows you to compare policies from top companies to find the right one for you.

  • 16.

    If you’re visiting New Orleans from outside of North America then chances are you will need a travel adapter. I always recommend buying a universal adapter that way you have one that will work in most countries around the world. The two USB slots built in to this adapter makes it super convenient to charge multiple devices at the same time.

  • 17.

    The best way to keep all of your toiletries organized and easily accessible is with a toiletry bag. This one has several clear, zippered compartments to help you stay organized and makes it easy to find what you need. The ability to hang the bag makes everything easily visible and accessible without even having to take things out of the bag.

What to Wear in New Orleans

What Women Should Wear During the New Orleans- (Click to expand)
Below is a sample women’s clothing list.(All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).

Women will want to wear clothes that are lightweight and breathable in order to stay comfortable in New Orlean’s warm climate. Shorts, dresses, and skirts are most popular and are paired with short-sleeve blouses and tank tops. Sandals are also recommended, but if you plan to do a lot of walking then better wear comfortable walking shoes.

Shade yourself from the sun and keep cool by wearing a hat and sunglasses. In the evenings the temperature cools down so a light jacket or sweater will keep you from getting chilly. Jeans and sweaters are more commonly worn in the fall and winter when it’s not so hot.

What Men Should Wear During the New Orleans- (Click to expand)
Below is a sample men’s clothing list.(All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).

Men will be most comfortable wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Flip-flops or comfortable walking shoes are ideal footwear when exploring downtown New Orleans. A lightweight fishing shirt could come in handy to help protect you from the sun as well as a ball cap and sunglasses.

In the evening and during the cooler months a light jacket and a long pair of pants will be comfortable. Most people in New Orleans dress fairly casually so no need to bring more than one pair of dress pants and a dress shirt.

Packing for the Seasons in New Orleans

Winter – December, January, February

Winters in New Orleans are chilly but not cold. Jeans, a sweater, and a light jacket will have you covered. You’ll want to dress in layers that you can easily put on and take off as the temperature changes between morning and night.
The winter provides a pleasant break from the heat and humidity of the summer, but the amount of rain is pretty even year round so be sure to pack rain gear and closed-toed shoes. Temperatures vary between 40 and 70 degrees fahrenheit.

Spring – March, April, May

Spring is a beautiful time to visit New Orleans. The flowers are in bloom, it’s warmer, but not so hot and muggy yet. Expect spring showers and occasional overcast days. Temperatures during the spring can be all over the place so it’s important to have a mix of cold and warm weather clothes.

Most days you’ll be comfortable in a short-sleeve shirt and jeans but some days, especially later in spring, will be hotter so you’ll want to wear shorts and sandals. Temperatures average between 60 and 80 degrees fahrenheit during the spring months.

Summer – June, July, August

Be prepared for hot, humid days if you plan on visiting New Orleans in the summer. There is also quite a bit of rainfall so be ready in case there is a good summer rainstorm while you’re in town. Shorts, tank-tops, skirts, dresses, and sandals are the most popular attire during the summer months. Don’t forget a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.Temperatures range from 70 degrees fahrenheit to the upper 90’s.

Fall – September, October, November

The fall in New Orleans is a pleasant time of year to visit. It’s still warm from the summer, but the humidity has subsided quite a bit. You’ll still be comfortable wearing most of your summer clothes, but bring a light jacket for mornings and evenings when it can be chillier. Be sure to bring a travel umbrella, as New Orleans gets rain year-round. The temperatures from the beginning of fall to the end vary quite drastically and can be between 50 and 80 degrees fahrenheit.

How to dress for activities in New Orleans? – (Click to expand)
Mardi Gras – People come from all over to party in the streets of New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Some people love to get dressed up in colorful costumes for the parade, but most people tend to use accessories like bead necklaces and fun masks along with their normal clothes. The festival takes place in the spring so it can be chilly, but most people are comfortable in shorts or jeans, a t-shirt, and a light jacket.

New Orleans Nightlife – New Orleans is well-known for its nightlife in the French Quarter and on Bourbon Street. There is a wide variety of places from dive bars to upscale restaurants so it’s important to dress accordingly. Most places are pretty casual so jeans and a t-shirt would suffice but women may also like to wear dresses or skirts. For more upscale bars, slacks, dress-shirts, and dresses would be more appropriate as well as a nice pair of dress shoes, sandals, or high-heels.

City Tours – New Orleans is a city filled with history. A great way to learn about its past is by going on a city tour. They can often be an all day affair so it’s important to dress comfortably and for the weather since much of what to see on the tours is outside. It’s important to wear comfortable shoes, and to dress in layers. Bring along a travel umbrella just in case you run into some rain. If it’s a sunny day, then a hat and sunglasses will help keep the sun away.

What NOT to Bring to New Orleans

  • 1.DON'T BRING Unnecessary Valuables

    When traveling it’s always better to leave valuables at home. It’s very easy to lose things between the airport, taxis, and hotels. You also don’t want to run the risk of something valuable getting stolen. If it’s not necessary for your trip, it’s best to leave it at home.

  • 2.DON'T PACK Heavy Books

    With e-readers, smart phones, and tablets, there’s no reason to weigh yourself down with books during a vacation. They can also make it hard to keep your luggage underweight which can be a problem if you plan on bringing back souvenirs.

  • 3.DON'T WEAR Flashy Jewelry

    Jewelry can easily get lost or stolen when traveling. It’s not a good idea to leave it in the hotel room and flaunting expensive jewelry in a city isn’t always a great idea either. It’s better to keep the accessories simple while traveling in case something does happen to them.

  • 4.DON'T PACK a Regular Towel

    A regular towel is bulky and impractical to bring while traveling. Microfiber towels are a great alternative because they are super compact, absorbent, and are quick-drying.

  • 5.DON'T BRING Excessive Cash

    It’s best not to have excessive cash laying around your hotel room or in your wallet when you’re exploring a city. Almost all places accept cards in New Orleans so take out the bare minimum amount of cash just in case you’ll need it.

  • 6.DON'T WEAR Uncomfortable Shoes

    New Orleans is a city you need to walk around to properly explore, therefore it’s not the place for uncomfortable shoes. A good pair of walking shoes will keep the trip enjoyable and your feet happy.

What NOT to Wear in New Orleans? – (Click to expand)

You don’t need super warm winter clothes like hats, gloves, or scarves, they’ll just end up taking up unnecessary space in your suitcase. You also don’t want to bring shoes that you can’t easily walk around in since so much of your time in New Orleans will be spent exploring the city on foot.

FAQs about traveling to New Orleans

  • 1. What’s the best time of year to visit New Orleans?

    Spring and fall have the nicest weather. It’s not too hot or humid, but it’s also still warm enough to walk around in a t-shirt and shorts most days. So much of what you’ll be doing in New Orleans is outside and these seasons are the most pleasant and enjoyable times to be outside.

  • 2. Is New Orleans safe?

    New Orleans is no different than other larger cities. You need to be careful of petty crimes so keep all of your valuables in a secure place like a neck wallet, not your back pocket. Also, it’s wise not to flaunt expensive jewelry or walk around with excessive cash.

  • 3. What’s the best way to get around New Orleans?

    The best way to explore New Orleans is on foot. You see so much more of a city by walking around. That being said, if you want to go somewhere that feels too far to walk you can always take public transportation or call a taxi.

  • 4. What is an ideal amount of time to stay in New Orleans?

    Five days to a week is a generous amount of time to stay in New Orleans. You’ll have enough time to check out all the sights, try a variety of restaurants, and enjoy the music scene.

  • 5. What is the best food to try in New Orleans?

    New Orleans is famous for its beignets, gumbo, crawfish, jambalaya, bananas foster, po-boys, oyster Rockefellers, king cake, and so much more. You definitely can’t leave New Orleans without trying at least a few of these famous dishes.

  • 6. When is Mardi Gras?

    Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, takes place the day before Ash Wednesday. The day it’s celebrated depends on the calendar year and when Easter is, but Mardi Gras will always fall on a Tuesday in February or March.

  • 7. Is New Orleans kid friendly?

    Although New Orleans is known for its parties and nightlife, there are plenty of activities for the kid as well. There’s an amusement park, steamboat, aquarium, and zoo that the kids will love.