family on beach vacation
Natalya Zaritskaya (unsplash)

Summertime is one of the most magical times of the year where the planet comes to life and families flock to the beaches to feel the natural healing power of salt water and soak up some sunshine. There’s nothing better than the feeling of playing on the beach all day before taking a shower and heading out to a nice dinner surrounded by the ones you love the most, but packing for it CAN be stressful. Avoid the stress of packing by using this comprehensive packing list for beach vacation and travel hacks to keep you organized and prepared for whatever comes your way on the sandy shores!

Before we begin, note that you can download the printable version here. Here’s what it’ll look like:

packing list for beach vacation
The Complete Packing List

The Complete Packing List for Beach Vacation:

Beach Gear to Bring Along

  • Beach towels
  • Beach umbrella or shade tent
  • Foldable beach chairs
  • Cooler or insulated bag
  • Portable speaker and charger
  • Beach games: bocce ball, football, volleyball, frisbee, kite, etc.
  • Boogie board or surfboard
  • Sand toys: bucket, shovel, sand sifter, etc.
  • Snorkeling gear
  • Beach bag
  • Bottle opener
  • Floats

Clothing & Accessories

  • Bathing suit
  • Cover up
  • Flip flops and sandals
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Rashguard
  • Water shoes
  • Sundress
  • T-shirts
  • Raincoat
  • Shorts or jeans
  • Belt
  • Athletic gear
  • Tennis shoes
  • Dress clothes
  • Underwear and bras
  • Pajamas
  • Jewelry

Important Travel Essentials

  • Driver’s license or ID card
  • Passport
  • Wallet, cash, and credit/debit cards
  • Travel documents
  • Reservation confirmation numbers
  • Insurance cards
  • House keys, car keys
  • Map or guidebook
  • List of emergency contacts

Toiletries

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Soap or body wash
  • Washcloth, loofah, etc.
  • Hair brush and styling tools
  • Hair accessories: headbands, hair ties, etc.
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Floss
  • Mouthwash
  • Contact solution
  • Deodorant
  • Body spray, cologne, or perfume
  • Body lotion
  • Skincare products
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Bug spray
  • Reef-safe Sunscreen
  • After sun lotion or aloe vera
  • Shaving razors
  • Shaving cream
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Nail clippers and files
  • Tweezers
  • Cotton balls and cotton swabs
  • Make up and make up remover
  • Wet wipes
  • Baby powder

Health & Wellness Items (as necessary)

  • Prescription medication
  • Birth control, condoms, etc.
  • Epipen
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Vitamins
  • Diphenhydramine
  • Bandaids
  • First Aid Kit
  • Reading glasses

Rainy Day Essentials

  • Deck of cards
  • Puzzle
  • Tablet or laptop
  • Board games
  • Poker chips
  • Books
  • DVDs or login information for streaming services

Beach House Essentials

  • Snacks and drinks
  • Ice
  • Coffee, cream, and sugar
  • Beer, wine, and spirits
  • Toilet paper
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Notepad and pen
  • Laundry detergent and dryer sheets
  • Pillow/blankets
  • Paper towels
  • Dish soap/dishwashing detergent
  • Paper towels and napkins
  • Disposable silverware
  • Trashbags
  • Pop up clothing hamper

Miscellaneous Items

  • Reusable travel water bottle
  • Phone and other electronics chargers
  • Additional portable power bank/charger
  • Headphones
  • Waterproof dry bags
  • Travel pillow and blanket
  • Travel umbrella
  • Camera
  • Golf bag/clubs
  • Flashlight
  • Handheld car vacuum
  • Adapter

15 Packing Tips and Travel Hacks for the Ultimate Beach Vacation

Keep Your Items Organized

A few packing cubes make organizing much easier
A few packing cubes make organizing much easier – jdltmaxson (pixabay)

When packing your suitcase,utilize items like packing cubes to make the most out of limited suitcase storage and keep similar items organized and together. Having a place for everything and everything in its place can help ease anxiety about traveling and help you know what has already been packed and what still needs to go in your suitcase.

Save Space by Rolling Clothes

Rolled shirts can save space in your luggage
Rolled shirts can save space in your luggage – leolintang (depositphotos)

If you don’t already know this by now, try rolling your clothes up while packing instead of folding them in half. This packing method can save tons of space to make sure you’re able to bring all of your favorite outfits while helping you stay organized and on top of things.

Recycle Outfits or Check for Onsite Laundry

Short jeans can be combined with various tops
Short jeans can be combined with various tops – Arnel Hasanovic (unsplash)

Pack light by bringing items along that can be reused to create new outfits! For example, one pair of jeans can create a handful of different outfits by just switching tops and can usually be worn more than once before needing to be washed. Additionally, most beach houses have laundry on site so items can be washed and worn a second time and you don’t have to worry about the fashion police calling you out for wearing the same outfit twice since you’re on vacation!

Make Roadtripping Fun

If you’re driving to your beach destination, make sure you’re prepared for the road trip by creating a playlist that everyone will love and bringing along games to keep the car ride fun! Bring batteries or portable chargers for any handheld devices like video games or cellphones or play classic road trip games like I Spy or Twenty Questions!

Leave Some Space in Your Suitcase

Although it may be difficult to bring along everything that you need for your beach vacation, try utilizing these packing hacks to give yourself some wiggle room for bringing back souvenirs or gifts from your vacation. Pro tip: Use clothes and other soft items like towels or linens to keep breakables safe while maxing storage space in your suitcase.

Know Your Itinerary

A planed itinerary shared with the whole group will keep everyone on what's next
A planed itinerary shared with the whole group will keep everyone on what’s next – PantherMediaSeller (depositphotos)

Getting everyone in your group on the same page can definitely be a challenge when it comes to planning a family beach vacation. Although having a planned itinerary can cause stress for some travelers, it can help your group stay on top of important group outings like planned dinner reservations, shows, and more. Use technology like spreadsheets, travel apps, itinerary planners, and digital lists to keep everyone in the know and up to date for important group events and outings.

Know Before You Go

If you’re visiting a beach that is new to you, make sure you check out important information ahead of time. Make use of weather tracking apps to find the best time of year to visit, check out beach conditions online, and find amenities like fishing piers, equipment rental stands, and more.

Be Prepared for Sandy Feet & Wet Swimsuits

Naturally you don't want this inside your hotel room
Naturally you don’t want this inside your hotel room/car – Athena (pexels)

Spending a week at the beach can create memories that last a lifetime and sandy floorboards that last just as long! Be prepared for sandy feet by bringing a gallon of water to rinse toes off before getting in the car or investing in a small handheld vacuum for cleaning up sandy car rugs. When bringing home wet clothing, make sure to bring a laundry bag or reuse plastic bags to separate wet clothes on the ride home.

Invest in Durable, High Quality Luggage

Invest on good luggage to give you peace of mind when traveling
Invest on good luggage to give you peace of mind when traveling – Keith Pitts (keithmelissa/unsplash)

Make packing for any trip a breeze by investing in quality luggage that adheres to appropriate sizing standards for commercial airlines. Having durable luggage can give you peace of mind when traveling with fragile items or souvenirs. Along the same lines, invest in easy to read luggage tags and suitcase locks to make traveling a breeze.

Buy Items There

Although some travelers may want to be prepared for anything when packing for a beach vacation, it might save time and space to buy commonly found items at the store after you arrive. Since you will likely need to make a trip to a nearby grocery store for food and drinks, pick up items like toilet paper, shampoo, and other household products there.

Pack with a Purpose

When packing your suitcase, make sure you’re using every inch of space available. Place small items like jewelry, socks, and more inside pairs of shoes to utilize free space. Help special items like sun hats and collared shirts keep their shape by packing items inside of hats or use belts to line shirt collars to cut down on ironing time once you’re at the beach.

Plan Outfits Ahead of Time

Pack only what you'll wear for sure
Pack only what you’ll wear for sure – Vlada (pexels)

When packing for the beach, planning your outfits ahead of time can reduce the risk of overpacking and provide stress-free planning for a night out on the town. It’s best to bring along some of your favorite go-to items from your closet instead of being adventurous or packing something you never wear in the hopes that you might wear it. Pro tip: If an item has been in your closet and you’ve never worn it on a normal day, chances are you won’t wear it on vacation either!

Download Google Maps for Offline Browsing

Download your route ahead just to be safe
Download your route ahead just to be safe – Ingo Joseph (pexels)

If cell service at the beach is likely to be spotty, make sure you download a travel app like Google Maps ahead of time to find your way even while offline. Plug in the directions for your beach house ahead of time to know your route and use maps to explore nearby areas and attractions once you’re there.

Avoid Tangled Necklaces

One of the simplest and most useful travel hacks for packing jewelry is to use drinking straws when packing necklaces to avoid tangling. Unclasp each necklace and pass it through the straw before connecting it to keep jewelry safe and hassle free.

Keep it Clean

There’s nothing worse than opening up your suitcase to find spilled toiletries or broken glass. Take steps to avoid accidents like placing plastic wrap under the cap of liquid items or wrapping breakables in bubble wrap or tissue paper before traveling. One super easy and cheap way to keep shoes clean is by wrapping the soles of your shoes with shower caps and placing the soles down at the bottom of your suitcase.

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