Are you planning a family trip to the beach this year? Beach vacations are one of the best types of trips for a family. The coast and the surrounding beach towns provide endless opportunities for fun, relaxation, and incredible memories with your family.
But like any other type of vacation, beach vacations can take quite a bit of planning and a lot of work to prepare for. As a result, packing for a beach vacation can be as time-consuming as packing for any other vacation. And sometimes, packing for the beach takes longer when you have to figure out how to fit all of your beach gear into your car.
If you know what you need for the beach, your vaca preparation and packing will be quicker and smoother. Read on to find out what should be on your beach vacation packing list.
Your Beach Vacation Packing List
When heading to the beach, you’ll want to be sure you take most of your beach gear with you if you have room in your car. Beach towns tend to inflate prices, which may cause you to pay more for things at your destination. By taking most of your gear with you, you’ll save money on your beach vacation.
However, hotels sometimes provide beach gear for their patrons, so check with your hotel before packing for your vacation. Also, if you are flying to your destination and can’t take all your gear with you (or if you don’t have space in your car), you may be able to rent things like beach umbrellas, boogie boards, and chairs.
You’ll want a comfy chair to sit in for those long hours on the beach. We prefer beach chairs that don’t sit really low to the sand and have a higher back with a head pillow. Also, look for one that has backpack-style straps for easy carrying because your hands will be full with other beach gear!
Look for oversized beach towels for laying on the beach to keep your body off the hot sand. Or bring along a beach blanket for space for the whole family to lounge.
Sand Toys and Beach Sports Gear
Small buckets and shovels will keep young children occupied for hours. For the older kids, footballs, frisbees, and any other sports gear will keep them active between dips in the ocean.
A beach umbrella is a must to avoid burning and provide shade to cool off. You may be able to rent an umbrella if you don’t have room in your vehicle to take one along.
Beach tables are great for keeping your drinks and snacks out of the sand when you are eating. This kind just connects directly to your beach umbrella.
Both kids and adults love catching waves on a bodyboard. Bodyboards come in tons of fun designs and prints.
If you are heading to the beach with your family, a beach umbrella probably won’t be enough shade for everyone at the same time. So instead, think about taking a beach canopy to set up for a day at the beach.
If you will be taking a canopy to the beach, it’s a great idea to have a beach cart because canopies are heavy. We have this exact beach cart that transforms into a beach lounger. It works great for transporting heavy items across the sand.
You’ll need a tote bag to carry your smaller beach essentials. Look for a mesh tote bag because it will dry out quickly and won’t hold in tons of loose sand. Also, look for one with a secure inside pocket to store small items that can otherwise easily slide to the bottom of your bag.
Don’t forget your snorkeling gear if you are heading to a beach with clear water. Looking for underwater sea life will keep your family entertained for hours.
You will need a decent cooler to pack food for a day at the beach. Keep your sandwiches cool and safe to eat by storing them in your cooler. Also, don’t forget your cooler ice packs.
An insulated cup is another must-have for the beach. Pour your beverages into your insulated cup when you take them out of your cooler to help them stay cool for hours.
A cooling towel can help you and your family avoid becoming overheated from too much sun. Consider taking a cooling towel for each member of your family.
Clothes, Shoes, and Accessories
Packing clothing for a beach vacation tends to be slightly easier than packing for a trip abroad. Your attire for your beach vacation should be comfortable and casual. You typically won’t need anything too fancy or formal unless you have a formal event you will be attending while you are there.
- Bathing Suits (more than one is ideal)
- Beach Cover Up
- Shirts/Tank Tops
- Sun Dresses
- Jeans or Pants (1 or 2 pairs for cool nights)
- Sweater or Sweatshirt (1 or 2)
- Tennis Shoes
- Workout Clothes
- Workout Sneakers
- Water Shoes
- Crossbody Purse
It’s best to try to pack the toiletries you’ll need because many beach towns tend to have higher prices on personal care products. However, if you are staying in a hotel, check to see what products are provided in your room. Then, using the hotel’s products will save you space in your suitcase.
- Toothbrush/Dental Floss
- Body Wash/Soap
- Hand and Body Lotion
- Aloe Vera Gel
- Face Wash
- Face Creams/Products
- Shave Cream
- Makeup/Makeup Remover
- Sunscreen (more than one bottle)
- Contacts/Contact Solution/Contact Case
- Cotton Balls/Swabs/Tissues
- Water Safety Gear
- Waterproof Phone Case/Camera
- Small Speaker
You’ll want to take your favorite (and necessary) electronics for entertainment during downtime at your rental. Don’t forget all the charging cords for all of your different devices. Also, if you will be heading to a beach in another country, don’t forget a plug adapter.
- Cell Phone
- Charging Cords
- Hand-held Video Games
- Plug Adapter
- Charging Strip (for multiple devices at once)
- Portable Phone Charger
There are many other odds and ends to include on your beach vacation packing list. Here are some other items to consider taking on your beach vacation.
- Face Masks
- Hand Sanitizer
- Anti-Bacterial Wipes
- Vaccine Card
- List of Medications
- Pain Reliever/Fever Reducer
- Travel First Aid Kit
- Baby Gear
- Credit Cards
- Bank/Credit Card Customer Service Numbers
Helpful Packing Tips for Your Beach Vacation
Consider Meal Planning for the Week
Meal planning saves you money when you’re at home, but it will also save you money on your beach vacation. Pack the food you’ll need for breakfast and lunches. If you don’t have room to take food with you, head to the grocery store when you get to your destination or arrange for a grocery pickup upon arrival.
Decide the number of times you’ll eat dinner out at restaurants before you go. Limiting the number of times you eat dinner out will help keep your vacation budget under control.
Staying at a rental with a kitchen will allow you to save money on food while on vacation. Try meal planning ahead of time for the nights you want to eat at your vacation rental. If you are driving to the beach, consider cooking meals ahead of time and freezing them to take along with you in a cooler.
Keep your dinner meals simple when on vacation. Also, consider eating variations of the same meal to make meal planning easy. For example, cook chicken taco meat to eat in taco shells one night. Then use the chicken taco meat for something different, like in a simple casserole, on a salad, or in burritos another night. Cooking in large batches and using leftovers for additional meals is a great way to save money and time in the kitchen.
Pack Your Suitcase Like a Pro
There are many theories on the best way to pack a suitcase. Some say rolling your clothing saves space. Others say folding your clothing is the best way to go. Yet others swear by using packing cubes to help organize your suitcase and avoid overpacking.
Here are some tips to optimize your suitcase space:
- Use a combination of rolling and folding your clothes
- Use every nook and cranny (i.e., inside your shoes, hats, purses)
- Have a plan for dirty clothing
- Layout what you think you want to take, then edit it down…a lot
- Use packing cubes to organize your suitcase
- Consider wrinkle-resistant clothing
- Keep toiletries in a plastic bag to avoid spills on clothing
- Use shoe bags to prevent your shoes from soiling clothing
Extend Your Car’s Storage Space
If you will be driving to the beach every year, consider investing in more storage space for your vehicle. Adding a roof rack cargo carrier is a great way to increase your storage space. Also, if your vehicle can accommodate a hitch, consider having one installed to use a hitch cargo carrier for your beach gear.
Use a Beach Vacation Packing List Template
I have you covered if you are looking for a beach vacation packing list template to help you remember everything you need for your next beach vacation. I created a vacation packing list printable you can have for free.
Here is a preview:
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Final Thoughts on the Complete Beach Vacation Packing List
Packing for a beach vacation doesn’t have to be stressful. Planning ahead and staying organized throughout the packing process will help you pack with ease. Use this beach vacation packing list to help you prepare for your next family beach vacation so you can focus on having fun and making memories with your family.