The Ultimate Beach Packing List
After a long, stressful year, nothing sounds better than the sun, sand, and some fresh ocean air. It's the perfect time to pack up and head to the beach!
But before you go, you have to make sure you're prepared.
This article will run you through a complete list of beach essentials – everything you need to have a fun, stress-free beach vacation.
Plus, we'll provide some packing tips to help get started.
So let's jump right in!
The perfect beach packing list won't look the same for everyone. It all depends on a few important factors: where you're going, how you're getting there, who you're traveling with, and more.
So, before you start packing, ask yourself these questions:
Flying or Driving?
How do you plan on getting to the beach?
My advice is to stick with the "better safe than sorry" mantra if you're driving.
So don't be afraid to pack too much.
Whether you want to add an extra game, another bottle of sunscreen, a jacket, or whatever – if it fits in the car, you might as well bring it!
On the other hand, if you're flying, you will have limited packing space.
Be sure to cover all your essentials before you start to double up on towels and toys.
Remember, if you're only taking a carry-on bag, liquids like sunscreen, shampoo, and conditioner must be less than 3.4 ounces.
How Does the Weather Look?
Don't forget to check the forecast for your destination before you hit the road.
In coastal climates, fog and rainstorms can strike without much warning.
Even if you're traveling to a tropical beach, don't just count on sunny skies.
Check the weather before you pack so you can stay comfortable.
What Can You Buy There?
It's essential to be aware of what you can and can't buy at your destination.
Moreover, this is especially true if you're traveling to a foreign country!
Will you be able to buy the brand of lotion you like?
What about bug spray?
If you're traveling with kids, will you be able to find their favorite snacks and games?
Are stores in that area too high-priced?
If there is anything that won't be easy to buy at your destination, make sure it's at the top of your beach vacation checklist!
How Long Are You Staying?
Whether you're going for a day trip or for a week, stay length is incredibly important when planning.
If you're going for more than just the day, are you staying in a hotel?
Or perhaps you're staying in a vacation rental?
You might need to add more essential supplies to your beach vacation packing list.
What To Bring To The Beach
The first step to a good beach day is being prepared as far as possible.
Whether you're heading out for a week-long vacation or just a relaxing afternoon, you can't show up empty-handed.
Here's everything you should pack for the beach, by category.
1. Essentials for Your Beach Vacation Packing List
No matter how long you're going to be at the beach or how you're going to get there, these things are all absolute must-haves when packing for the beach:
- Sunscreen – Safety first! Protecting your skin at the beach should be your top priority. Experts recommend using a sunscreen of at least 30 SPF for your safety.
- Cell Phone - Don't forget your phone for emergency purposes, and remember the charger!
- Sunglasses – The glare from the water and sand can be excruciatingly bright. A high-quality pair of sunglasses will protect your eyes and keep you comfortable.
- Swimsuit / Bathing Suit – Even if you don't plan on swimming or suntanning, it's nice to have the option!
- Rash Guard - We recommend bringing along a rash guard as well to help with sun protection.
- Hat – A good sun hat is the best way to protect your scalp, face, and eyes from the hot sun.
- Beach Towels – You should have at least one towel per person to dry off and sit on the sand.
- Layers – Make sure you have a light jacket or long-sleeve shirt to wear on top of your swimsuit if it gets chilly. Remember, a sunburn can make you feel colder!
- Water – It's essential to stay hydrated, especially when you're out in the sun. Bring at least one water bottle per person to prevent dehydration.
- Lip balm – Sunshine and salty air can dry out your skin. A good lip balm will keep your lips from getting chapped and cracked.
- Sandals / Flip Flops – Hot sand can burn your bare feet. I recommend a pair of waterproof sandals so you can walk in and out of the surf comfortably.
- Water Shoes - If you like walking on the beach a lot, but prefer wearing shoes, water shoes are a must-have.
- Beach Bag - There's a lot to bring each day to the beach, so a beach bag definitely comes in handy.
- Beach Cart - For those traveling with lots of supplies, or just to make lugging things around a bit easier, a beach cart makes a great addition to a beach vacation packing list.
2. The Extras
Now that you've packed the essentials for your beach trip, it's time to think about your entertainment!
Here are a few extra items for your packing list that will make your trip as fun as possible.
- Beach Blanket – A blanket can take up a lot of space in your bag or car. But if you have the room to bring it, a beach blanket will provide a big, comfortable space for you to relax and play.
- Snacks – There's nothing like a seaside picnic! Bring along your favorite snacks, so you can stay at the beach all day without losing energy.
- Beach Umbrella – A beach umbrella or other form of sun protection can provide you with a comfortable place to sit, away from the harsh sunshine.
- Beach Shelter - A beach tent (or beach shelter) can be a great addition to your beach packing list if you're traveling with a larger group.
- Beach Chair or Camp Chair - If you prefer sitting on a chair rather than a towel, a beach chair or camp chair both make excellent additions to your beach vacation packing list.
- Beach Games – Volleyball, soccer, paddleball, cornhole, Waboba, etc., the list goes on. A beach is an excellent place for big, active games. Be sure to add at least a few to your beach packing list.
- Snorkeling Gear – If you have a mask and snorkel, bring them along so you can safely explore the sea.
- Speaker – Have a perfect soundtrack for your beach party? Play it over a portable speaker – preferably one that's water and sand-resistant.
3. For The Kids
If you're traveling to your beach destination with kids, here are a few things you'll need to keep them safe, happy, and entertained.
- Bodyboards - You can't have an awesome beach vacation without a couple bodyboards. Grab a few ahead of time - they'll last a lot longer than ones at local beach shops.
- Skimboards - If your kids prefer skimboarding, a few skimboards are a must-have for your beach packing list.
- Sun Protection – Little ones' skin is more sensitive to sun damage than grownups. That's why it's so important to bring extra-strong sunscreen, hats, an umbrella, etc.
- Sand Toys – Buckets and shovels will provide endless entertainment in the sand. Kids can also use their buckets to collect shells and sea critters!
- Goggles – Keep your eyes safe from the salty water with a good pair of swimming goggles.
- Snorkel Mask - If the water's clear, a snorkel mask can be a ton of fun.
- Change of clothes – Wet and sandy clothes are uncomfortable. Make sure you pack a change of clothes to keep your kids happy (that way, you won't have to deal with any tantrums).
4. For Longer Beach Vacations
If you're planning your beach getaway to be more than just the day, you'll want to add these items to your beach packing list:
- Hygiene Items - A toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shaving supplies, feminine hygiene products, shampoo and conditioner are all must-haves for your beach packing list.
- Bathroom Towels and Linens - Some homes provide linens, while others do not. If your home does not provide linens, it's important to bring an indoor towel for each person as well as linens for each bed.
- Luggage - If you're bringing a lot with you, luggage can help when packing for the beach.
- Paper Towels / Toilet Paper - Some vacation rentals offer these supplies pre-stocked, but it's always good to have a backup. Be sure to bring a few rolls of each (at least) when you pack for a beach trip.
- First Aid Supplies - If you're traveling to destinations where shops are not readily available, it's important to bring bandages, ointments, tweezers, and other basic first aid supplies.
- Medications / Insurance Card - Make sure to bring all medications, as well as your insurance card just in case.
- Passport / Visa - If you're traveling out of the country, a passport or visa is an absolute must-add to your beach vacation packing list.
- Government ID / Driver's License - Whether you're staying in the country or headed to a far away destination, an ID is a must-bring to your next beach vacation.
- Hair Brush - A hair brush is a must to keep your ocean hair in check.
- Contact Lenses / Contact Solution - If you wear contacts, it's a good idea to add these to your beach bag.
- Clothing - Be sure to pack enough changes of clothing for each day, with a few extra sets just in case.
- Cash / ATM Card - Sometimes credit cards can have issues when traveling. Bring an ATM card or cash as a fallback.
- Hand Sanitizer - As a fallback when soap isn't available, or just to have at the ready on the beach, this makes a good addition to your beach packing list.
- Packing Cubes - If you're bringing a lot, and like to be organized, packing cubes can make a nice addition to your beach vacation packing list.
- Charcoal - If your vacation home offers a barbecue grill, charcoal can be hard to come by in-season. It's worth adding to your beach vacation check list.
We hope this beach vacation checklist helped you to get ready for your trip.
Remember, it's always better to be overprepared than underprepared – if you think of anything else that might come in handy at the beach, bring it along.
Now that you have all your beach essentials collected, you're ready to go.
Pack up your duffel, totes, or backpacks, and have a great trip!