Before you set out on your unforgettable New Orleans vacation, there’s just one thing left to do: pack. For those LGBTQ travelers who have never been to the Crescent City and are unsure what to bring along, we’ve put together this handy guide of must-haves and should-haves to keep your vacation running smoothly.

Devonte Williford, New Orleans & Co.
Exploring New Orleans' Garden District

Fanny Pack

It seems like one day they’re in fashion, and the next they’re out. But whatever the current trends, a fanny pack is always practical. These handy accessories can hold your phone, money, camera, cosmetics, and more. Seriously: you’d be surprised how much you can fit in one of these. Save yourself the trouble of keeping track of individual items and consolidate in a fanny, which you can wear at the waist or over the shoulder. And since you’re in New Orleans, you can show your pride with a fanny that shines and sparkles with every color of the rainbow. Just make sure it fits comfortably, as you won’t want to take it off and risk losing it.

Sunscreen

New Orleans weather tends to be bright and sunny most of the year, and you’ll probably want to spend as much time as possible outdoors while you’re here. Protect your beautiful skin from burns and damage by applying sunscreen before you start the day, then reapply as needed if you’re spending long stretches of time outside. A travel-size tube is a small convenience that goes a long way, and it will fit perfectly into that handy fanny pack you brought along.

Walking shoes

In New Orleans, every destination is a chance for exploration: the French Quarter, our historic cemeteries, the scenic houses and lush greenery of the Garden District, neighborhood hangouts in the Marigny, and more. Because you’ll undoubtedly want to see it all, make sure you bring shoes that provide proper support over long periods of time. Of course, bring as many pairs of formal shoes, boots, and heels as your heart desires, but we recommend saving them for dinners or events that won’t be as taxing on your feet. Prioritize comfort during the day so you don’t have to sit anything out during the night.

Jabari Henry, New Orleans & Co.
Bourbon Street Awards - Mardi Gras Day

Costume pieces

Even if a costumed event isn’t on your itinerary, it’s never a bad idea to bring a few accessories just in case. In New Orleans, you never need a reason to dress up as extravagantly as you want, and you may just find yourself in the mood to amplify your self-expression with something flashy and colorful. Pack a wig, boa, leotard, metallic leggings, or whatever you have lying around in your closet. You can never go wrong with glittery makeup, which will be easy to pack and carry in case you unexpectedly find yourself at an LGBTQ dance party. Don’t have any costume pieces? No worries–our local costume shops are always here to help.

Hand fans & Hats

Accessorize, stay cool and keep your carefully applied makeup safe from sweat with a fan that clacks, snaps, and thwacks. If your vacation includes LGBTQ walking tours, hopping between our many gay bars, or casual neighborhood exploration, hand fans are a convenient yet fashionable way to beat the heat. Choose a design or pattern that matches your personality and mood and pack it in your–you guessed it–fanny pack. You’ll never regret having one, and besides, who doesn’t love a good hair-blowing-in-the-breeze moment? Forgot to pack one, or don’t have one to pack? Once you’re here, stop by Bourbon Pride, a queer-owned local business where you can find a variety of Pride-themed hand fans. They’re also stocked with gift items and accessories such as shirts, water bottles, and hats to further protect your face from the sun.

Casual clothes

If you want to costume around the clock, no one here is going to stop you. However, we also recommend checking the forecast before your trip and packing an assortment of weather-appropriate clothing. Believe it or not, New Orleans does get its share of chilly evenings in the fall and winter, and you’ll want to be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws your way. It might also be a good idea to bring a small umbrella or rain poncho, especially during spring and summer.

Justen Williams, New Orleans & Co.
Hanging at the Virgin Hotels New Orleans Pool

Swimwear

If you want to cool down during the day in an LGBTQ hotspot, there’s no better option than visiting one of our many splash-worthy pools. Destinations like the Country Club and The Virgin offer day passes for visitors to soak up the sun (and savor a drink from a poolside bar) in an environment that is friendly and welcoming to diverse patrons. Pack a speedo, trunks, bikini, mermaid tail–whatever makes you feel comfortable and confident. The city’s pools are a favorite among queer locals, so suit up and get ready to make new friends in a relaxing environment.

Disposable camera

Sure, everyone has a camera built into their phones, but where’s the charm in that? Grab one or two disposable film cameras to take with you on your excursions through the city–or even on a swamp tour, where the abundance of local plants and wildlife make every moment picture-perfect. Not only will disposable cameras require you to be more selective about your shots, but they’ll give you physical mementos to hold on to, so your memories of the Crescent City will never be too far away.