The Ultimate Seafarer’s Packing List

Ever wondered what a seafarer packs for the high seas? From braving the elements to unexpected paperwork, they need to be ready for everything – in advance! We took a look inside the bags of some seasoned sailors and here are the most essentials items that we found.

Passports & Documentation

This is the first and most important thing that needs to be taken care of. They must be in good shape with at least 6-12 months of validity and a set of copies!

Foreign Currency

Every ship carries a limited amount of cash, so it’s always wise to pack multiple currencies for purchasing supplies or onshore excursions. US dollars are particularly handy given that they are the most used and exchanged currency worldwide.


The eyes are the most sensitive and injury-prone part of the body. A pair of protective and welding goggles are must-haves for the welding, painting and chipping seafarer.


Working on ships often requires the handling of hot or sharp objects. A pair of durable, fitting and waterproof gloves are key to avoiding hand injuries.

Family Photos

Being away from family is never easy, but carrying photos enables them to be kept both in hand and heart.

Electronics: Laptops, Mobile Phones & Tablets

Gone are the days when seafaring meant leaving your loved ones. Most ships are equipped with Wi-Fi nowadays so family and friends are only ever a Skype call away.


 Music, movies and blocking out distractions – there are all great reasons as to why seafarers invest in quality earphones. To be specific, a suitable pair will be sturdy, portable and noise cancelling.

Power Bank

There will be days when you’re onshore or simply can’t get to a charging station. The best way to prepare for them is to pack a power bank.

Waterproof Watch

A tight ship runs on a tight schedule. Never miss a beat with a watch that’s waterproof, non-corrosive, accurate and comfortable in both hot and cold weather.

Mini Fan

A fan isn’t just for keeping cool. It helps to circulate cabin air and provides white noise to drown out any unwanted sounds when you are trying to sleep.


Log your life at sea, jot down your thoughts and plans, and collect the contact details of the people you meet – there’s still something special about doing it the old fashioned way with pen and paper.


There are two types of books worthy of packing – books for learning and books for leisure. Classics for the seabound soul include Moby Dick and Treasure Island.

Prescription Medication

Prescription medications aren’t always available onboard or at a ship’s destinations. In lieu of this, seafarers generally work with their doctor to bring enough for their entire contract.


Consumer care products vary from country to country so heading to your closest Guardian or Watsons beforehand to stock up on all your favourites is a must.

Lip Balm

There’s no doubt about it – chapsticks are a lip saver! They keep them hydrated in the cold and free of sunburn in the heat.

Sunglasses & Sunblock

 The sun often gets overbearing at sea, particularly when it reflects off the water. A pair of sunglasses and a tube of sunscreen of at least SPF 30+ are essential for maintaining skin and eye health.

Day Bag

Day bags provide easy access to your documents when you are boarding and heading onshore. It just needs to be portable enough to carry with ease yet large enough to hold essential items like water bottles and snacks.

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