THE ULTIMATE BEACH PACKING LIST FOR YOUR NEXT VACATION

Just because you’re taking a trip to the beach, doesn’t mean you can take a vacation from packing! With beach towels, sand toys, underwater cameras, beach chairs, beach toys, swimsuits, your regular clothing, and more, packing for a beach trip can sometimes get to be a little overwhelming.

This beach packing list has been compiled from experience in an effort to make your beach vacation packing feel less like a chore, and more fun. Before we get started, one of our best times is to get packing cubes, which can make your clothes easy to carry and can double as bags for your time at the beach too.

Print this list, save it, or commit it to memory — this beach vacation packing list has everything you need for the beach vacation of your dreams.

THE ULTIMATE BEACH PACKING LIST FOR YOUR NEXT VACATION

CLOTHING (FOR EACH PERSON)

Outfit planning isn’t for everyone, but if you want to be able to travel light, it is a necessary evil. Thank us later when you aren’t packing four extra “just in case” outfits — we promise you won’t need all of them. Pack the essentials, maybe one “just in case” outfit, and you’ll be good to go. We also highly recommend not checking a bag, because it’s easier than ever to have your luggage lost in transit. 

  • Flip-flops or water shoes Which you choose really depends on what kinds of beachside or water activities you’ll be doing. Beach lounging? Flip-flops are your go-to. Kayaking or spending time at a rocky waterfront? Water shoes all the way!
    • The only flip-flop we wear in this family is OluKai. They are a little more expensive, but worth every penny. They look great, feel great, are water resistant and quick-dry. And they don’t make your feet smell. These OluKai are the best ones for the beach – they are women’s but they also make them for men and kids…and other shoes too. See the OluKai Amazon store here.
  • 1 swimsuit Yes, one swimsuit. There is no reason to bring more than one. If you’d rather trade a “just in case” outfit for another swimsuit or two, feel free. But chances are you’ll only wear the one you unpack first and won’t realize you packed more until you get back home. (Guilty.)
    • Fun Fact: They make reversible swimwear that is comfy and beautiful! It is my favorite way to look like I packed more than I really did. Carve Design is my favorite, and you can get it (and more gorgeous suits) at REI! See the REI collection here.
  • 2 shorts or pants (for every 3 days of travel) This might even be an overestimation. You can pack one for every three days and sink wash too if need be. Plus a fun wearing extension hack is to put your pants (or any clothes) in a Ziploc bag and place them in a freezer if you have access to one. The cold temperature will kill off stinky bacteria in between washes.
  • 2 shirts (for every 3 days of travel) That clothing hack mentioned above works for shirts as well. Shirts do typically take up less space in luggage than pants or shorts, so there is wiggle room in the number you bring. Still, try to plan out the outfits you want to wear ahead of time, with your destination’s weather in mind. 
  • Undies (for every day of travel) If your vacation is longer than a week and you don’t want to pack tons of underwear, consider packing five to seven pairs and washing them. Sinksuds is a great travel companion that takes up very little room, plus many hotels have washing services if you don’t feel like sink or tub washing. (Scrubba is also an excellent investment as well. It makes hotel room washing so much better.)
  • Bra Let’s be honest, if you’re on a beach vacation you will probably be spending more time in your swimsuits than in your regular clothes. Don’t overpack on bras. 
  • Jammies If you’re anything like me, you crank that air conditioner the second you get to your hotel room. So pack some comfy pajamas and chill…literally!
  • Coverup Making pitstops off of the beach, for refreshments or bathroom breaks, are often more comfortable in a coverup. Lightweight swimsuit coverups also can make for cute spare tops, plus they keep you a little warmer if you get a sudden beachfront chill.
  • Work out clothes (if you are REALLY going to do that) Again, these can double as outfits too if you want to stay really comfortable on vacation. 
  • Socks and sneakers (for any hiking or bike riding or working out) Socks get a similar packing rule as underwear, though you can scrimp a little if you plan on being in sandals a lot. Sneakers are easy because you can wear them on the plane or in transit rather than packing them.
  • 1 hoodie (if you’re at a beach that gets chilly at night…even in Florida or the Caribbean, restaurants get cold, especially if you have a sunburn) As someone who gets sunburn a lot on vacation, hoodies are a godsend in the evening. Tie it around your waist or to your personal item instead of packing it in your luggage to save valuable space.
  • Hat Pick your favorite vacation hat and wear it, roll it or clip it to your personal item. Often you don’t need to actually pack the hat. Though there are a lot of cute sunhats now that are easily roll-able to fit more snugly in luggage. This hat always makes me feel pretty – even if my head is covered in sand.

TOILETRIES

Be sure to check ahead of time if your lodging has any of these items in case you don’t have room to pack them or simply forget them. Don’t forget that TSA 3-1-1 rule for liquids if you’re only bringing a carry-on. And consider investing in a refillable toiletries kit to save money on mini bottles in the long run. 

  • Lip balm Your lips can get sun damaged too. Be sure to bring lip balm that contains SPF to keep your lips happy.
    • If you’re looking online, Banana Boat is a best-seller but I think it tastes gross. Aquaphor is our go-to brand.
  • Aloe vera Unless you want to shell out $$$ for aloe at a nearby shop, bring some. And if you have access to a fridge at your accommodation, store it there. That’s a pro-tip from a frequently sunburned human.
  • Hand sanitizer Beaches and hotels have always and will always be germy. If you don’t have enough space in your liquids bag, consider hand wipes instead. 
  • Brush or comb To keep yourself tidy.
  • Hair elastic Traditional or scrunchie — yes, those are back in style! Plus they even make ones with hidden pockets to keep valuables safe!
  • Deodorant Beach vacations are often in warmer climates. Warm climates mean sweat. And sweat means…you get the picture.
  • Razor and blade Razors can be taken in a carry-on bag so long as they are not safety razors or razors with easily removable blades. 
  • Face wash Seawater can be good for the skin, though it can be drying too. Face wash will keep your skin happy while you bask in the glow of vacation vibes.
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste Several companies now sell toothpaste tabs if your liquids bag is getting full. Tabs are like little mints you chew and then brush as you normally would. They’re a packing game changer.
  • 2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner A 2-in-1 is certainly a luggage space saver. Personally, I prefer separate products. However, many of my frequent traveler friends prefer 2-in-1. 
  • Body wash When you want to scrub away the sand or salt residue, you’ll be glad you remembered your body wash. Bar soaps are also still a great standby. My preference is for bar soap to save room in my liquids bag, but also because they’re often less heavy and more environmentally friendly. 
  • Sunscreen No day at the beach is complete without sunscreen. Try to invest in reef-safe sunscreen to protect our oceans. (Reef-safe sunscreens are actually the law in certain parts of the world. Be aware when buying your sunscreen.) And other tattooed travelers, I highly recommend grabbing some sunscreen sticks. The sticks provide a more concentrated sun protection layer to keep your art looking fresh.
  • Medicines Fold-up medicine boxes have come a long way. The various compartments are great for folks traveling for long periods or who need to bring a lot of things with them. If you are bringing prescription medications, I recommend taking photos of your medicine bottles to have the RX on hand just in case. That way too, you can pack your prescriptions in a box rather than bringing a bunch of containers along.
  • Feminine Hygiene Period underwear and menstrual cups are incredible lifestyle shifts if you haven’t started using them. Not only do you have to bring less stuff around with you, but you also save money and create less environmental waste. There are even foldable, silicone menstrual cup containers you can easily pack too. (These containers can also be filled with hot water for cleaning your menstrual cup on the go.) Together they still take up far less space than traditional feminine hygiene products.

TRAVEL NECESSITIES

Folks who travel a lot know that there are certain things you don’t want to be without–often from personal experience. A little extra prep ahead of time could save you a lot of money and stress in the long run.

  • Water bottles Reusable water bottles. Never travel without them. You won’t have to spend a ridiculous amount of money on water at the airport or anywhere your travels take you. I highly recommend attaching the bottle to a carabiner to your bag, however, so you don’t lose your brand new Brita filtering water bottle on the first leg of a five-week European journey. (Shoutout to my teal Brita bottle living somewhere in Prague now.)
  • First aid kit Even if you aren’t accident-prone like me, a mini first aid kit is always a great option. The littlest ones will take up as much luggage space as your cell phone. Though you could make your own kit using a Ziplock bag if packing space is a concern.

BEACH GEAR

  • Beach Bag An easy-to-carry (and easy to rinse) beach bag is always a good idea. You can keep all of your things together and the bag can be packed flat in your luggage for optimal space saving. Or, better yet, used as your personal item on the plane! (I highly recommend one with a zipper if the plane personal item is the way you want to go.)
  • Sunglasses This is especially crucial for my fellow glasses-wearing travelers. You don’t want to be on a gorgeous beach somewhere without your prescription sunglasses. It’s way less fun. Be sure to bring a hardshell case for your sunnies too, so they don’t get squashed in the beach bag. 
  • Beach lockbox Lockboxes have come a long way. There are so many options now in different sizes and uses for beachgoers. My personal favorite is called the Wrist Locker. It’s essentially an armband with a compartment for IDs or credit cards. That way you can swim to your heart’s content without worrying that your valuables will disappear. 
    • This one by FlexSafe allows you to store more and keep everything dry. It’s slash-proof…and good for the water park and on a cruise, as well.
  • Cooler A collapsible cooler is the best option for folks who are flying. They can fit neatly in your luggage! Otherwise, a traditional cooler is perfect for keeping everyone cozy at the beach. (And not paying $5 for a soda.)
  • Waterproof Phone Cover (if you’re kayaking or want photos in the waves) Waterproof covers, phone holders, or even a Ziploc bag will do in a pinch. You don’t want to wreck your expensive cellphone. 
    • It took me years to find a waterproof phone cover that still made great photos. This is it! All the others snap hazy photos, but these look great. It’s a bit of a chore to get it on and test it…don’t wait until the last minute. Your effort will be rewarded.
  • Ziploc bag I know I just mentioned this, but a Ziploc bag is great to bring on your beach vacation. Not only are they great to keep things dry while at the beach, but they’re also good for keeping wet clothes separated from your dry clothes on your way home.

Pro Tip: Check with your accommodation to see if they have any beach tops, chairs, towels, umbrellas, snorkels, etc., so you don’t have to bring them along or rent them elsewhere. 

ELECTRONICS

Bringing your electronics along on vacation is a no-brainer for most folks these days. Cellphone aside, we rely on electronics to keep us entertained no matter where we are in the world. And the beach is no exception.

  • Kindle Not having to lug books around makes beach reading a much easier relaxation activity. Packing your Kindle (and charger) means you can have a whole library without schlepping an entire library onto the beach.
    • Did you know you could spend upwards of $300 on a Kindle? That’s way out of my price range, but the cheap one is perfect. The words aren’t written in gold on either one (and the cheapest one is still easy to read at the beach…I’ve used it there for years!)
  • Phone + Charger Though you could get lucky and the front desk of your accommodation has a box of left-behind chargers, it’s a good idea to pack one right away. I keep a spare charger (and plug) in my personal item at all times so it never gets left behind. 
  • Headphones + Charger Being able to unwind with headphones blocking the chaos around you is a big part of relaxing on vacation. I recommend keeping a cheap pair of headphones in your personal bag (like the ones you might get free with a new phone), so you always have a set on hand. 
  • Portable speaker Some portable speakers even have built-in clips to make bringing them along even easier. You can hook them onto your backpack or beach bag for easy access, but don’t forget the charger! (This is a theme in this section.)
    • We are a Sonos family. We have them all, and we love the quality. The Sonos Roam is an investment, but it will last you a lifetime. These are portable and offer 10 hours of play time…use them at the beach, camping, the pool, on the patio, tailgating…and in the house! We love our Sonos and preach about them everywhere we go!

MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR BEACH VACATION

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