What to pack for a trip to New Orleans

I love New Orleans! It is honestly my favorite city to visit in the United States. The culture, the food, the architecture, and the feel of the place make it a wonderful place to spend a few days or a week, absorbing a culture that is unique to this awesome city. But there are some things you might want to know, and some things that you can take with you that will make your trip that much more enjoyable. I will put a list of items at the end of this article, but I first wanted to point out a few things you might not think of.

The first thing to know about New Orleans is that it is not only frequently very hot, it is also incredibly humid. Literally swampy. If you spend some time in the French Quarter, you will smell some smells that you have probably never smelled before! The constant humidity and warmth support lush and beautiful trees and plants, but they also support things like mold and mildew, so one of the things I recommend if you have regular or occasional allergies is an antihistamine. I use Zyrtec because it works for me, but that’s very much a personal thing, of course.

The second thing to know about New Orleans is that, because of the high humidity, your sweat will not evaporate as it normally does. You are quite likely to walk around and sweat and soak through your clothes. On my first visit, I had an absolute blast, but my clothes kept getting drenched in sweat, and I had only packed enough clothes for a regular weekend trip, so my next suggestion would be to pack extra clothes (and underwear and socks!) in case you want to stop back at your hotel or AirBNB and shower/change mid-day. I go to New Orleans at least three times a year (four already this year), and I always pack three full changes of clothes per day.

The wet underwear problem leads to my third suggestion. Again on my first trip, I experienced an extreme version of “chub rub”, exacerbated by the always-damp underwear and all of the walking I was doing. My inner thighs chafed like crazy, till they were red and raw and painful. I ended up walking with my legs spread, doing my best not to waddle. Changing into dry underwear a few times per day will help, but I was able to get rid of the problem completely by using something that I consider a miracle product: Body Glide. It’s not lubricant! It’s an anti-chafing stick such as those used by marathon runners or bikers to prevent friction chafing under their arms and between their legs. I actually use this produce EVERY DAY of the year now (TMI?), but it is especially necessary when you are planning to walk a lot in a humid location such as New Orleans, Fort Lauderdale, Disney World, Miami, or Key West. A little swipe of this stick on your inner thighs will prevent that painful chafing completely! It goes on thinly, so barely-there that you might wonder if it’s applying correctly. I can honestly say that in 10 years of using this product, I have never again experienced that awful problem. And if you ever forget to apply it and develop the beginnings of the dreaded rawness? You can apply it even AFTER the chafing has started, and it will stop it in its tracks, as well as alleviate the symptoms and give you some relief! I believe in this product so much that when discovered while I was packing for a recent trip that I was almost out, I panicked until I realized it was available in my area on Amazon Prime Now for same-day delivery. This is my #1 recommendation for you. I would never take a trip to New Orleans without this product!

You will definitely need some sweat-proof sunscreen. My favorite, that goes on smoothly and invisibly, is Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face & Body Stick in SPF 70. This is a solid stick that comes in a package that is small enough to throw in a bag, or even in your pocket, if you are planning to spend hours in the sun. I apply it once before leaving in the morning, and then consciously attempt to spend as much time in the shade as possible (by crossing to the shady side of the street, hanging out under awnings or trees, etc.), and I am fine all day. If you are especially sweaty or if you are spending time at a place without shade like a festival or something, I would reapply it after a few hours.

The last item I recommend might not be for everyone, but it is definitely good for anyone who (like me) enjoys the drinking aspect of New Orleans. I use and highly recommend hangover prevention capsules. I have found the capsules called PreToxx to be highly effective. The product is a vitamin and herb blend that contains high-dose Vitamin B and Vitamin C, Magnesium and several other minerals, as well as some ingredients that are meant to support your liver, NAC (N-Acetyl L-Cysteine), Prickly Pear Fruit Extract, and Milk Thistle Seed Extract. You take 3 capsules BEFORE drinking, along with a glass of water, and then three more capsules AFTER you finish drinking, before bed, again along with a full glass of water. Simply drinking water will help to avoid a hangover, but I have used this product for a few years, and I personally believe (although I have not proof), that this product DOES do what it claims. On the few occasions where I have forgotten to take the capsules, I have suffered much worse hangover symptoms.

So, my master list of things you should pack when you are going to New Orleans, in addition to the things I mentioned above:

  • Extra shirts, underwear, and socks (more than you would normally pack for the number of days you will be in town.
  • SHORTS. Extra shorts if you sweat heavily like I do
  • Comfortable shoes that breathe
  • A hat or baseball cap, especially if you are planning to spend time in the sun
  • sunglasses
  • A swimsuit (most hotels have a pool here)
  • Beach Towel (frequently provided at the nicer hotels)
  • A book to read
  • A plastic tumbler and straw is handy if you want to save money on drinks by mixing them at your hotel (it is legal to carry around an alcoholic beverage in NOLA, as long as it is in a plastic container)
  • Sunscreen
  • Body Glide to avoid inner-thigh chafing
  • Hangover prevention pills
  • Antihistamine pills if you suffer from allergies, especially molds and plants

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