Packing Tips for a Beach Vacation [Includes Printable Packing List]

Whether planning a stop at the beach for a couple of days while sightseeing in Europe, or during a road trip in California, after a safari in Africa or a family stay a beach house in the Emerald Coast, we always make sure a beach getaway is a part of our yearly travel. Here are my packing tips and a downloadable list so that you can pack for a beach vacation in no time. I always keep a small bag packed for a beach vacation and have somewhat perfected packing for a beach getaway. The salty air and the sounds of the waves always bring about calm and melts away the stress.

When the ocean is calling you can’t really resist, can you?

18 Things You Should Pack for a Beach Trip

If you are planning to go on a beach holiday and are wondering what to pack for the sun & sea, this beach vacation packing list will help you. I have included all the things that I usually pack for a beach trip plus some extra things we need to travel safely during these post COVID times.

18 Things You Should Pack for a Beach Trip  - Outside Suburbia
A beach sign in Zanzibar

Beach Bags

First things first, you need a beach bag to carry all the things to bring with you to the beach. You can’t go wrong with big straw bags, I tend to buy a straw bag everywhere I go. I bought one in a souk in Essaouira, Morocco that has been a favorite and I have been taking to the beach (you can find a similar one here and the trendy totes here). But if you are short on space get these mesh market bags that are easy to pack.

I saw a few people, especially moms with kids sporting these trendy silicone bags that are washable, tip-proof and in cute colors. A good idea if you are carrying toys and other things that you need to wash at the end of the day.

18 Things You Should Pack for a Beach Trip - Outside Suburbia
Sunscreen, Swimsuits and Sun hat always goes in the Beach bag

Swimsuits

Your swimsuit is very likely the most important thing to bring on your beach trip packing list. But it is such a personal preference! All I have to say regarding swimsuits is pack one or two suits that you can mix and match. Depending on the length of stay, you can always hand wash them. I recently discovered the Albion Fit swimsuits and love their cute styles that provide more coverage than your average swimsuits.

Mr. Suburbia tans and gets sunburns easily. I get a rash guard shirt like this one for him to match his swimming trunks. Another packing tip for your beach vacation, get swimwear with UPF! Worth the investment!

When the kids were younger I would get swimsuits with some sun protection. The Carter swimsuits come in fun colors and matching hats. They were my favorite!

Packing Tips for a Beach Vacation - Outside Suburbia

Sandcastles & Beach Toys

Also, don’t forget some beach toys for the kids. This one has cute castle molds that make building those sandcastles easy and fun. Bring just a sand shovel if you don’t have space and you can use plastic cups as molds. Now that my kids are older an iPad or Kindle (and their phones) is all they need to bring to keep themselves busy. They just read or play games online.

Cabanas cost a pretty penny but totally worth the splurge. Bring a couple of beach chairs or a blanket if you don’t want to pay for a beach chair setup.

Bring your own Beach Towel

Most resorts will give you beach towels but these days I would rather bring my own. You can never be sure who used them before you and how well they were washed, who folded them and what viruses they carry! Call me paranoid, but it is better to be safe than sorry…and ruin your beach getaway! I listened to my own advice and packing tips and bought a couple of the towels (below) to bring on the beach trip.

Fast drying beach towels - Outside Suburbia
Bring your own ‘fast drying’ beach towels

I love these 100% Cotton Peshtemal Turkish Towels take up less space and dry pretty quickly. They come in so many different colors. Or get these versatile quick-drying sand free towel that is perfect for travel, beach, gym, outdoor or as your camping towel.

Most Important Item to Pack for a Beach Vacation, Safe Sunscreen

One of my most important packing Tips for a Beach Vacation! Apply sunscreen first thing in the morning! No matter your skin tone, we all need it! I apply Neutrogena on my face. If we are going to the beach, I use either SuperGoop or another safe yet water-resistant sunscreen. Look for non-aerosol sunscreens that protect your skin while also minimizes harm to the environment.

18 Things You Should Pack for a Beach Trip - Outside Suburbia

If you care about the ocean and the marine life bring along some reef safe sunscreen. This one is waterproof for up to 80 minutes whether in the sand, sun, sea or surf. And it has broad-spectrum protection from both UVA / UVB rays to protect from sunburn. It is Zinc Oxide based Oxybenzone and Octinoxate free, in fact completely chemical free and safe for kids and marine life that we all need to help protect.

Foldable Hat

I love straw hats that protect my head (bad hair days) and provide shade for my face. I find them super handy, sort of stylish and always pack a couple for any beach vacation, rather any vacation for that matter.

Emerald Coast in Florida - Packing Tips for a Beach Vacation - Outside Suburbia
Look at that color of the water at the Emerald Coast in Florida

These foldable and packable Panama Hat from Cuyana is handwoven in Ecuador from Toquilla straw and great for the beach as they are breathable. So are these Madewell ones or find a similar hat here for much lesser.

Kaftans & Coverups

A coverup is a fashion statement and a must-have on the beach. Any sarong or scarf will do the job but I favor these soft kaftans like this one below. which is from Bl^nk. What can I say I love that Kaftan Life! I also bring some colorful tunics that double as coverups, like these Johnny Was ones.

Packing Tips for a Beach Vacation - Outside Suburbia
Living that Kaftan Life!

An oversize voile shirt works as a great coverup as well. Here are two great ones, this Brea Caftan comes in a few beautiful colors or you can always go with a classic white one.

Flipflops and Shoes

A pair of flipflops is always in my beach bag. While any flipflops will do these Havaianas are sturdy, comfortable and you can walk in them for hours. My boys like these colorful ones from QuikSilver. An absolute must item to pack for your pack vacation!

What to shoes to Pack for a Beach Getaway - Outside Suburbia
Sandy Toes and walks on the Beach!

Regardless of what trip, one thing I always tend to pack in my suitcase is a pair of espadrilles. They are versatile summer wear and goes with dresses and jeans or shorts – for après beach. While I don’t really pack any high heeled sandals, if you are planning for nice dinners, a pair of nude heels might be handy.

Pretty prints, sun hat and espadrilles - beach trip essentials!
Pretty prints, sun hat and espadrilles – beach trip essentials!

Sunglasses

Again personal preference, but bring a couple of pairs of sunglasses. The sun is beating down on the beach and you will want to protect your eyes from the harmful rays.

Reusable Tumblers

Bring a travel mug or a reusable water bottle to the beach. That way, you are not contributing to plastic garbage in the world because it’s refillable. To keep your drinks and cocktails cold get these triple insulated cups and colorful tumblers from Swig.

Tips for packing for a beach vacation - Outside Suburbia
A Cocktail with Cabana views in Miami

Coolers

Talking of keeping things cool, you might want to pack a cooler for your beach vacation. You can load up on drinks and snacks for the whole family. I see many people bring a Yeti Cooler Tote to the beach. I usually bring my picnic bag(I got mine from Bed Bath and Beyond a few years ago) that holds a couple of wine bottles and some cheese, snacks and sandwiches. I just put a couple of these ice packs from Cool Coolers to keep food and drinks cool and fresh.

Beach huts at Falsterbo, the Swedish Riviera Photo by Outside Suburbia
The time we were not prepared for the beach in Sweden

Pack a few Layers for the Beach Trip

Having scarfs and layers is key to help protect you from sudden colder temperature shifts. During your beach getaway, it can get cold at nights, so I pack this cozy cashmere wrap by Palmer and Purchase. It is big and the price is so reasonable since they source their own wool.

Personal Care Kit

For your beach trip, you will want to pack a few items in your personal care part of the kit like your favorite shampoo and conditioner (the saltwater does a number on the hair), some aloe vera gel to cool down burnt and sensitive skin. I have learned this the hard way and never forget to pack this for a beach vacation.

Packing Tips for a Beach Vacation - Outside Suburbia
Another colorful coverup that I brought to the Maldives

You might want to pack a good moisturizer for the beach vacation. After a day in the sun, your skin will want some TLC! Bring your basic beauty supplies. Less is more at the beach! Some mascara, bold and bright lipstick is all you will need…

Beachy nail colors perfect for a beach trip - Ouside Suburbia
Beachy nails!

I love getting a manicure and pedicure before a trip, especially a beach trip. For times when you can’t get to a salon, a good quality nail polish in beachy colors will do the job. I love these blue ones from Essie. I also pack a couple of these travel friendly polish remover pads for a beach getaway.

Hand Sanitizer

These days it makes sense to always have a hand sanitizer in your bag. You wouldn’t want to get sick in the middle of a beach trip. You will need it after a restroom break or break and after a snack. It is probably one of the most important things to bring on a beach trip given the current situation.

Mask

To safeguard against viruses it is best to keep a face mask handy. From clinical masks to cloth masks to N95 masks, you have a range of options. These colorful Hoo-rags can be used as face masks, neck gaiters, headwraps, scarves, beanies, hat liners, helmet liners and more. They are made of 100% moisture-wicking polyester microfiber and some even have UPF30 sun protection.

When you are outdoors you most likely don’t need them but if you go to a crowded beach bar to grab a drink or some snacks you will want to wear one. Bring a zipper pouch to keep the mask clean. It is important to remember these packing tips for a Beach Vacation, or rather any trip during these post-COVID times.

Medical Kit to Pack for a Beach Trip

In case of emergencies on the beach, you will want to have a medical kit available. I always have a few of these handy, like bandages, masking tape, painkillers, motion sickness pills, and other standard medicines for common illnesses. Here is what is in our travel medical kit:

  • Band-Aids
  • Masking Tape
  • Neosporin
  • Motion Sickness pills
  • Sunscreen, I like the Neutrogena face and body stick so you don’t have to worry about liquid limits
  • Bug spray  or Ben’s Tick and Insect repellent wipes (These are more effective with the bugs)
  • Lipbalm
  • Itch relief
  • Anti-diarrhea pills for adults and liquid for kids
  • Children’s pain medication(s)
  • Allergy relief medications
  • Any other prescription medications

If you are planning to go on boating or sailing trips make sure you are packing some Motion sickness pills. We have been on one too many rocky boat rides! Take these tips from a mama with a kid who likes to snorkel but had severe motion sickness – make sure you are packing some Dramamine for your Beach Vacation!

Travel First Aid Kit - A medical kit with some basics is essential in case of emergencies - Outside Suburbia
Packing Tips for a Beach Vacation: A medical kit with some basics essentials

Tecky stuff to pack for the Beach

I loved reading on the beach but never manage to pack books. So having a tablet or kindle is important to do some reading on the beach. I love this thin, light version that has a glare-free display that reads like real paper even in bright sunlight. Bonus it is waterproof, so you can relax and read at the beach or by the pool!

WiFi Hotspot and Portable Battery Charger

You need a backup battery charger for all the gadgets you might be bringing with you. In case you weren’t able to charge your devices, having a backup battery charger that’s still full is going to help you out a lot.

WiFi Hotspot will be helpful to stay connected while on the beach -  Packing Tips for a Beach Vacation - Outside Suburbia
Stay connected while at the beach or beach house

Having a WiFi Hotspot will be helpful to stay connected while on the beach. It is handy if you want to do some reading and like to watch movies and shows which lounging on the beach. You can buy a hotspot and pay-as-you-go (monthly or daily or by GB), and up to 10 devices can be connected. Use the code OUTSIDESUBURBIA to get 10% off any Skyroam WiFi Hotspot.

Camera and Memory Cards

Last but not least don’t forget to bring a camera and some memory cards so that you can capture some memories on your beach vacation!

Download a Printable Beach Trip packing list here

I hope you found this packing guide and tips useful when planning and packing for your beach vacation. A day at the beach always manages to restore the soul. Do let me know your packing tips for a beach getaway….

You might also like to check out these beach resorts in Cabo and California and other family friendly luxury hotels and resorts that we love.

PIN IT FOR LATER

Whether you are packing for a couple of days at the beach in Europe or a family beach trip, see these Packing Tips for a Beach Vacation - Outside Suburbia

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