People lying on a beach, looking to the blue ocean with their backs turned to the camera

The Essential Beach Packing List

As winter drags out in North America, it’s more than natural to start thinking of the summer. You know, not having to shovel your way out of the driveway, not having to wear seven layers of clothes… Who wouldn’t start thinking of a beach vacation?

For many people, this is when they start planning their next trip to the seaside. And while choosing which place to fly to and what hotels to check into is fun, the same can’t be said for packing. Oh, if only we didn’t have to pack to be able to leave and enjoy our vacation!

Because we know how tiresome and even stressful this can be, we have come up with the ultimate beach packing list for you. Whether you are traveling solo, hitting the beach with your significant other, or bringing the whole family to the land of sunshine and sand, this vacation packing checklist will be your best friend.


Why Bother with a Beach Vacation Checklist?

You might be wondering — why even bother making a list of the items to pack? Why not just focus on heading to the beach? Well, if you don’t put much thought into what to take, you might end up overpacking or not bringing enough changes of clothes.

Furthermore, you might forget some very important items for all summer beach vacations at home. Just think of how much your skin is going to hate you once you get a sunburn, all because you forgot sunscreen!

So, if you want to pack smart and you’re looking for some super important travel tips, you have come to the right place. This list will give you the top travel tips and inspiration to get you all ready for your beach vacation. No more stressing and worrying!

Cartoon representation of a person checking off things in their beach packing list with coffee and notebooks in the background


Beach Essentials

These are the items you absolutely cannot forget when you pack for a beach day trip. If you want to enjoy your day by the sea to the max, pack a beach towel and flip flops in your beach bag, as well as a beach umbrella and beach chairs. Board shorts and bathing suits are also a must on all packing lists. How else are you going to swim to cool off during a very hot day? Also, if you don’t want to be squinting all day, sunglasses should, too, be a staple in your beach bag. Similarly, bringing a hat is also something to really consider.

Since the sun can do your skin a lot of damage, sunscreen is a priority. If your skin is very fair, opt for a high-protection sunscreen that is also water resistant. This also applies to children and babies, as well as to people who have had skin diseases in the past. However, if you are used to sun exposure and want to get a tan faster, you can choose for a lower-protection sunscreen. To protect your lips, pack a stick of hydrating lip balm in your toiletry bag and carry it with you. Seawater, sun, and sand will make your lips very chapped easily, which is not ideal — especially not during a honeymoon or summer vacation.

Beach bag with a beach towel and sunglasses spilling out of it, on the sand with a sun hat and flip flops on the ground

Two other items you’ll find very useful are insect repellant and hydrating lotion for your skin. The best way to get a perfect tan is to keep your skin healthy, and so these lotions are precious. After you get out of the shower, apply lotion all over your body. You will feel your skin soft as a baby’s bottom after you do it a few times. Additionally, insect repellent keeps those nasty bugs away from you — which is all the more helpful if you’re vacationing in a country where there are mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria!

Lastly, the most important: water bottles. It’s easy to dehydrate and to have a sunstroke on a very hot day. Therefore, you can’t go more than a couple of hours not drinking cool water. Don’t forget to pack it!


Activities and Entertainment

If your plans for a great vacation include water sports, then make sure you have all the equipment you need before hitting the beach. This may include snorkel gear, life jackets, swimming fins, or even bodyboarding or surfboards.

Even if you’d rather stay away from the water, there is plenty of family fun to be had on the sand. Some of the best beaches for family beach vacations are those that have volleyball courts right on the sand. Therefore, it’s a good idea to pack a beach volleyball and inflated beach balls.

Do you have children traveling with you? Then you will definitely need to get them beach toys. Kids love playing on sand, so buckets, rakes, and shovels are toys they love. There are even small, creative plastic sand molds that children go crazy over. Not only will they have a blast playing all day with these toys, but they will also be so entertained they won’t bother you because “they’re bored.” It’s a win-win for everyone!

Making the most of your beach day is easier when you bring books, magazines, or newspapers with you. A good novel makes the day go by in the blink of an eye, and the same can be said for quality newspapers and magazines. Packing travel guides and taking them with you is also a great idea, as it gives you an excuse to learn about the history and culture of the place where you’re vacationing. Also, if you’re gathering your friends for a trip to the beach, nothing beats a portable Bluetooth speaker. We guarantee that it will provide an entire day of entertainment!

People playing volleyball at sunset on a beach with friends


What to Wear?

This is the part most travelers have a hard time with — even savvy travelers who think they have heard all the tips, deals, and tricks! Packing smart is the goal here, and you can’t do that unless you write a list of things to pack for beach vacation outfits. Before you start putting clothing items inside your suitcase, take a moment to think — “What will I really wear?”

The first step is checking the weather in your destination. How warm is it? Will it get cold at night? Should you be expecting rain? Once you figure this out, you can start picking your outfits. As a general rule of thumb, don’t bring more than one outfit to wear every day. You will most likely end up wearing the same outfit time and time again, anyway.

Secondly, don’t pack any high-maintenance pieces. Things like silk shirts and other items that need ironing are better left at home. The same goes for complicated outfits that make you feel uncomfortable. Likewise, don’t take more than three pairs of shoes, that is unless you are planning on walking down a runway while you’re on vacation…

The pieces you do want to pack are flip flops, comfortable walking shoes, and water shoes. You also need to take beachwear (for example, bathing suits, bikinis, and board shorts), as well as more than one tank top — in hot climates, there is nothing more comfortable than this.

However, at the same time, you can’t forget to bring a warmer clothing piece with you. Sometimes winds change at the last minute and bring cool breezes with them. Sweatshirts, cardigans, and sweaters are the perfect cold weather clothes, as they’re neither too warm nor too cold.

Of course, looking your best is always important! Pack your favorite outfits if they’re not difficult to maintain. Summer dresses, denim shorts, jeans, capri pants, flowy skirts, gym clothing, underwear, bras, flowy t-shirts, pajamas, and robes are all things to consider packing.


Making the Most of Luggage Space

Person closing their suitcase with all their clothes inside

If you’re here for the packing tips, we have you covered. Packing smart is just as much about taking with you the right items as it is about packing everything neatly. Since carry-ons and even checked bags have to be within a certain size limit, making the most of the space your suitcase allows is crucial.

First of all, choose a suitcase that is right for your needs. For how long are you on vacation for? How much do you actually plan on packing? Do you want to keep your items safe by locking your suitcase? When you answer these questions, it will be much easier to get the perfect piece of luggage for you.

Secondly, look into packing cubes. They are a great little travel gear invention that will not only organize the clothes in your suitcase but also make sure your clothes don’t take up more space than absolutely necessary.

Bringing a plastic bag for dirty laundry is also a great idea. You will probably not be thinking of the dirty clothes you’ll bring back home when you return, but trust us, you will wish you had thought of them. Having a plastic bag to put the clothes you’ve worn ensures there is no mixing of clean and dirty pieces.


Mmmm — food!

Don’t think for one second that the only great tips we have to offer are related to beachwear and other beach essentials! Making a food packing list for beach vacation getaways is also important. Mostly because eating certain foods keeps you satiated and feeling incredible throughout the day — even if it’s scorching hot outside.

The most important thing to always have in your portable cooler is water. Bring water bottles with you no matter where you go, and make sure to drink often. You don’t want to pass out from sunstroke or from dehydration, do you? It certainly wouldn’t make for a quality holiday…

Baskets full of summery fruits

Secondly, you should stock up on fruits, as they are rich in water. They will keep you feeling energized throughout the day and help you not succumb to the heat. Other light foods such as vegetables (for example, in a salad) will also be your friends. But stay away from heavy, highly processed foods and from sugary treats. They will make you feel groggy and not energized at all.

Lastly, always have different liquids low in sugar in your portable cooler. It’s okay to drink a little juice or smoothie here and there, but don’t overdo it with the sugar. A rush of sugar is something you don’t want on a hot day when you’ll be under the sun for several hours.


Have Fun, But Stay Safe!

When you’re having fun out on the sun, it’s easy to forget about simple safety tips and tricks. In a lot of countries, beaches are hotspots for muggings and pickpocketing, especially those famous, crowded beaches! So, since you will probably need to take money with you to the beach to spend during the day, how can you protect yourself against thieves?

Let’s think of this scenario: you have your wallet tucked into your beach bag under a beach towel by your beach umbrella. You want to go to the water and take a dip, so you leave your stuff behind. Surely, it must be safe… right? Well, it may not be.

Our beach travel tip is to always have someone keep an eye out for your belongings. As a foreigner, you are a particularly easy target to spot, which puts you at a disadvantage. Consider dividing paper money by different pockets and wallets. In case one of the pockets is targeted by a thief, you won’t have lost all your money. The same thing goes for credit cards! We recommend buying a money belt, as it is a sneaky and safe way of keeping your belongings safe. They look like a regular belt and are difficult to pickpocket without the owner noticing. It’s essential for all international travelers!

Additionally, don’t forget to leave your important personal documents at the hotel. This includes passports, driving licenses, and health insurance cards. Losing one of these documents would surely ruin your trip completely. Only carry around a copy of your identification cards — it should be enough.

Lastly, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t pack your phone in your beach bag without putting it in a plastic bag or ziplock bag. The last thing you want is to be without a phone, set yourself back some hundreds of dollars, and be disconnected from your friends and family back home.

Dollar bills tucked into an American passport on a desk


The Boring Essentials

These are the less exciting things in all “what to pack for a beach holiday list.” Nonetheless, they are crucial for a good vacation by the sea. Medications, copies of your travel documents, hand sanitizer, eye masks, travel-sized toiletries, and a first-aid kit are all useful things you cannot forget at home. Also, if you usually wear makeup, pack your favorite travel-sized products in your toiletry bag.

Travelers headed to the beach in another country need to find out what kind of plugs are used abroad. Not all countries have plugs that accommodate for American chargers, therefore you may need a converter and/or adapter.


Frequently Asked Questions About Beach Packing List


What is a good beach packing checklist for children and babies?

You always want to be prepared when you travel with children and babies. This means that besides packing everything for yourself, you will also have to pack things for the little ones. As a general rule of thumb, bring with you everything your child or baby needs in their normal day-to-day life. This includes breast pumps, diapers, binkies, comforters, toys, baby formula, comfortable clothes, and so much more.

Also, don’t forget to pack extra water bottles and extra snacks! Children get hungry easily and can throw tantrums that would shame even the louded speakers in the world. Avoid all this drama by preparing in advance.


What does a 7 day beach vacation packing list look like?

If you’re going away for an entire week, pack wisely. We would recommend only packing seven to eight pairs of underwear, two dresses, skirts, pants, or shorts, and up to seven tank tops/t-shirts. Besides all these items, pack all the essentials we mentioned before (sunscreen, sunglasses, repellent…) and only one or two pairs of shoes.


How can I get organized while putting together my checklist?

Checklists work best if you actually write them down. Get a piece of paper and put down all the items you need. To avoid running around the house like crazy, make sure to do this up to a week before you leave, as well as separation all items on the checklist according to category. For instance, under “clothes” write down the name and number of the items of clothing you want to pack. Under “electronics” write down what you need to take with you so that your electronic devices work (portable battery, charger, converter…)