Packing List for Panama City: What’s Inside an Editor’s Suitcase

On a four-day trip to Panama this month to scout a truly historic hotel opening (something I have the luxury of doing from time to time as Traveler’s Destinations editor), I was tasked with packing only a carry-on bag’s worth of items for an unusually broad array of activities. With a schedule running the gamut, from business dinners and tickets to the opera house to a yacht excursion, I needed professional-appropriate clothing, complete with heels, plus bathing suits, bug spray, and day outfits that would keep me cool in 80-degree heat while exploring Casco Viejo—Panama City’s Old Quarter. Below, six products that were on my packing list for Panama City, starting with my trusty carry-on.

Victorinox Spectra 3.0 Frequent Flyer Plus Carry-On

I’m typically a carry-on-only person, so while this trip demanded a lot of packing power, I had a tried and true expandable spinner I knew could get the job done. Victorinox’s Spectra 3.0 fit everything I needed—the lighter jacket I packed to switch into once out of the 20-degree Boston weather, two spare pairs of shoes, a beach bag with travel-size sunscreen and a hat inside, and four days worth of outfit changes. It felt full from the start of my trip, but thanks to the expandable outer zipper on this bag, I was surprised to find I had enough space to fit a souvenir bottle of coffee-infused rum inside and check the bag on the flight home.

Agua Bendita Becca Varenna one-piece

Spending the weekend in Panama, this trip meant fitting in a lot more play time than the usual business trip—I got to enjoy the hotel pool and spend a few hours on the hotel’s private yacht (which guests can take day trips on), so I knew I would need a comfortable bathing suit with enough coverage. I bought the Agua Bendita option days before I left and loved it—the beaded details make it feel like more of an accessory.

Badgley Mischka Collection block heel sandals

For the opera house and business dinners I grabbed my most trusted pair of formal block heels—the ones I wore for my wedding on a pebble beach last summer and have promised myself to wear more than once. They’re flashy enough to make any trouser or dress feel fancy (especially the little black dress I threw on for the opera, in this case) and have a low and wide enough heel that you can walk on cobblestones in them.

Amour Vert Brea washable silk jumpsuit

For walking around the windy causeway and steamy days walking around the Old Quarter I packed a trusty washable-silk jumpsuit. I love Amour Vert’s because they’re sustainable and less wrinkle prone (and more iron-friendly) than other washable silk items I’ve owned. I also love their classic silhouettes and fun prints.

Editor’s note: While this style is nearly sold out, you can find more Amour Vert jumpsuits here.

Cole Haan GrandPro Rally Court sneaker

These sneakers are my go-to for any trip with lots of walking on the itinerary: classic and sleek tennis shoes pair perfectly with any day outfit, or even an elevated jumpsuit, and they sometimes pull double duty if I want to use the hotel gym to lift some weights or use a Peloton in the morning.

Wyeth Natural Straw Bucket Hat

This Wyeth hat got me through my 10-day honeymoon in the Greek islands, and is now a must-pack for any beach trip I go on—it’s floppy and soft enough to pack flat or even roll up, which is exactly how I packed it inside a canvas beach bag I stuffed into my carry-on.

Where I stayed:

Sofitel Grand Casco Viejo Panama

Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo

A waterfront Old Quarter property with a resort feel (the spa, pool, and lush outdoor patios)—read my full review of the property here.

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