16/06/2024

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The Ultimate Beach Vacation Packing List

12 min read
The Ultimate Beach Vacation Packing List

Table of Contents

Finalizing a beach vacation packing list requires a slightly different strategy than other kinds of trips: For one, preventative measures like sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats are non-negotiable. Then there’s the sand, the wet clothes, and the keeping-kids-happy, if you’re traveling with young ones, to factor in. Before you jet off on your next beach vacation, be it to Miami, Maui, or the Maldives, consult our ultimate beach vacation packing list below—it’s filled with all the essentials you might forget, from the waterproof tech bag that’ll protect your cell phone to the best towels for every kind of beach trip imaginable.

Beach trip essentials:

Clothing & shoes

Accessories

  • Sun hat

  • Beach tote

  • Reusable bag

  • Sunglasses

  • Dopp kit

  • Water bottle

Skincare & beauty

  • Sunscreen

  • After-sun lotion

  • Bug spray

  • SPF lip balm

  • Antibacterial wipes

Entertainment

  • Portable charger

  • Kindle

  • Games

  • Portable speaker

  • Waterproof phone case

Beach gear

  • Beach towel

  • Beach cooler

  • Beach blanket

  • Beach chair

  • Beach umbrella

This article has been updated with new information since its original publish date. Additional reporting by Kristi Kellogg.

Lightweight clothing

When it comes to choosing which clothes to pack for a beach vacation, less is more. More often than not, you’ll find yourself in comfortable, loose-fitting clothes that can be reworn throughout the weekend or week by the beach. There are the essentials—bathing suits, sundresses, and walking sandals or flip flops, (there’s no better time to break out your Chaco’s)—you can’t leave home without. Beyond that, we recommend packing lightweight pieces of clothing like an oversized button-down and breathable linen pants, which can be worn on the beach or out to dinner.

Everlane The Linen Relaxed shirt

$88.00, Everlane

Rodd and Gunn Seaford Linen button-up

$158.00, Nordstrom

Buck Mason Crosshatch Linen Catalina pant

$158.00, Buck Mason

Uniqlo Men’s Linen Blend Relaxed pants

$50.00, Uniqlo

Read more: Summer Clothing Essentials for Travelers

Cover-ups

After taking a dip in the water, you’ll want to throw on a lightweight cover-up. The sarongs, pool skirts, and breathable sets below are easy to put on and can be worn to lunch or the beach bar. If you’ve spent a little too much time in the sun, the Lulus Vacation Jumpsuit will keep your skin protected while still feeling breezy. Plus, they take up very little packing room—roll them up tightly and toss them in your beach tote.

Summersalt The Ruched Swim skirt

$65.00, Summersalt

Ekouaer two-piece sarong set

$14.00, Amazon

Shu-Shi beach sarong

$20.00, Amazon

Lulus Two-Piece Vacation jumpsuit

$72.00, Lulus

Read more: The Best Beach Cover-Ups for Women

Sun hat

Grab a hat for you and ones for your family members, too: They’ll block out more sun than glasses alone and keep your scalp from getting burned. You could opt for a chic straw hat or a sporty cap if you want to tie your hair up. Another trendy favorite you can’t go wrong with: the beloved bucket hat.

Greenpacha Fiji hat

$149.00, Revolve

J.Crew packable straw hat

$70.00, J.Crew

TZ Promise bucket hat

$15.00, Amazon

Lululemon Women’s Fast and Free ponytail running hat

$38.00, Lululemon

Beach tote

One thing’s for sure—you’ll need a beach tote to carry all of your essentials. If you’re going for the coastal grandmother vibe, pack a straw tote bag like the ones below from Express or Hat Attack. If you need room to pack snacks, drinks, and a beach blanket for the whole family, the Away 45L tote has you covered. This extra-spacious and durable bag fit everything my friends and I needed to pull off a sunset picnic on the beach last summer—and it’s water-resistant, too. For something a little more simple, our editors adore the Boat and Tote bag from L.L.Bean—it’s a classic.

Express Woven tote bag

$48.00, Express

Hat Attack Traveler bag

$194.00, Amazon

L.L. Bean Boat and Tote

$35.00, L.L. Bean

F.A.R Tote 45L

$140.00, Away

Read more: The Best Tote Bags

Reusable bags

A reusable shopping bag will come in handy on many occasions. You can drop in odds and ends on your way to the beach or stash your beach accessories without schlepping another full-size tote around. On the way home, use them to wrap up dirty clothes or still-damp suits.

Baggu reusable bag

$14.00, Baggu

Kate Spade New York reusable shopping tote

$20.00, Amazon

Robe

After a long day at the beach, nothing feels better than a hot shower and a comfortable pair of pajamas. The one thing that can improve the experience? A robe. If you’re going to bring one from home, you’ll want it to be lightweight and quick-drying, like these waffle robes from Parachute and Nordstrom.

Parachute waffle robe

$129.00, Parachute

Nordstrom Modern Waffle robe

$69.00, Nordstrom

Read more: The Best Hotel and Spa Robes

Sunscreen

When you’re deciding what to pack for a beach vacation, sunscreen should be the first thing in your bag. Check out our favorite body sunscreens for every skin type, including the best choices for babies and children. And of course, you can’t forget to protect your face: Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen is a long-time favorite of our editors, as well as the Kinfield Daily Dew reef-safe sunscreen for those who prefer a mineral option.

Supergoop! Play Everyday lotion

$34.00, Sephora

Thinksport kids mineral sunscreen

$24.00, Amazon

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen

$38.00, Supergoop!

Kinfield Daily Dew

$26.00, Kinfield

Read more: The Best Body Sunscreens, Face Sunscreens, and Supergoop Sunscreens

After-sun lotion

In case you end up being less than diligent about reapplying SPF, bring a cooling mist or aloe lotion for some much-needed post-beach care. These soothing formulas help hydrate the skin and are gentle enough to use on sunburn. Pro tip: Pop the aloe gel in the fridge for a few minutes before using it for an extra-cool feeling.

Kinfield Sunday Spray cooling aloe mist

$22.00, Kinfield

Sun Bum Cool Down aloe vera gel

$12.00, Amazon

Bug spray

Depending on where you travel, you may want to pack bug spray, too. In places like Florida and North Carolina, summers get buggy, and you’ll be happy to have packed a spray on nights when you want to sit on the porch or dine outdoors. These sprays will protect you and your family from mosquitoes, ticks, and chiggers.

Sawyer Products 20 percent picaridin insect repellent

$9.00, Amazon

Kinfield Golden Hour mosquito repellent

$22.00, Kinfield

Dopp kit

A roomy Dopp kit will hold all your travel necessities: lip balm, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, contact solution or eye drops, a razor, shampoo, conditioner, and body and face wash. If you want to stay extra organized, opt for Calpak’s spacious cosmetic case—there are two separate compartments and it’s clear, so you can quickly spot what you need.

Calpak clear cosmetic case

$85.00, Calpak

Everlane The Renew Transit Catch-All case

$35.00, Everlane

Peak Design wash pouch

$60.00, Peak Design

Dagne Dover Large Hunter toiletry bag

$65.00, Dagne Dover

Read more: The Best Women’s Dopp Kits and Men’s Toiletry Bags

Sunglasses

One item you don’t want to forget for a day at the beach: A pair of sunglasses. These polarized frames from Quay are sleek and lightweight, and the pair from Sojos are equally as chic. Even better, they’re on sale for under $20, so there’s no need to worry about accidentally losing or breaking them.

Quay Polarized Sweet Dreams

$85.00, Quay Australia

Sojos Retro Square polarized sunglasses

$16.00, Amazon

Water bottle

There’s no better time to put your insulated water bottle to use than a day at the beach, when staying hydrated is even more important than usual. These bottles from Hydro Flask, Yeti, Simple Modern, and Stanley will keep water cold for hours, and hold plenty of water to keep you hydrated during a full day at the beach. If you want to feel comfortable tossing it in your tote without any leaks, go for the Hydro Flask or Yeti—the straws can be completely concealed to prevent spills.

Stanley Quencher insulated tumbler, 40-ounce

$45.00, Amazon

Yeti Rambler bottle, 26-ounce

$40.00, Amazon

Simple Modern insulated tumbler, 24-ounce

$24.00, Amazon

Hydro Flask Wide Mouth with Flex straw cap, 32-ounce

$50.00, Hydro Flask

Read more: The Best Reusable Water Bottles

Portable chargers

When you’re out on the sand for hours at a time, playing music or taking photos can mean a drained battery. Come prepared with a portable charger: We love the Anker PowerCore for its reliability and the iWalk for its ultra-compact size.

Anker PowerCore Portable Charger

$50.00, Amazon

iWalk small portable charger

$30.00, Amazon

Read more: The Best Portable Chargers for Travel

Kindle

Even for the most loyal of print fans, it’s hard to argue the benefits of e-readers on vacation. They take up less space in your bag, let you have more book options on deck, and in the case of the Kindle Paperwhite, can withstand a splash of water much better than a paperback. Bring one on your next beach vacation and finally cross a book or two off your reading list.

Kindle Paperwhite

$140.00, Amazon

Beach towels

While you may be going to a resort where towels are included, it’s never a bad idea to bring your own, especially if you have one that you love. The ones we’ve featured  below are lightweight, ultra-soft towels you’ll want to lay on all day long. Roll them up tightly and they’ll hardly take up much space in your suitcase.

Turkish Towels striped beach towel

$42.00, Huckberry

Slowtide Hapa oversize beach towel

$52.00, Amazon

Brooklinen Artist Series beach towel

$75.00, Brooklinen

Dock & Bay Cabana beach towel

$30.00, Amazon

Read more: The Best Beach Towels for Every Type of Vacation

Beach cooler

A beach bag that doubles as a cooler is a must for family beach days. Keep your water bottles cold and come prepared with snacks for the kiddos and yourself in any of these insulated bags. If your beach vacation is a drive away rather than a flight, consider investing in one of Yeti’s indestructible Tundra Haul wheeled coolers.

Yeti Hopper Flip 12

$250.00, Yeti

Hydro Flask 35 L Insulated Tote

$75.00, Hydro Flask

Calpak Insulated Lunch Bag

$42.00, Calpak

Yeti Tundra Haul Hard Cooler

$400.00, Yeti

Swim goggles

For more fun (and comfort) underwater, grab a few pairs of goggles, like this classic pair from Speedo. They’re not meant for deep diving, but they’ll come in handy in the pool and in shallow ends of the ocean. Speedo makes smaller googles for kids, too.

Speedo Futura swim googles

$35.00, Amazon

Aqua A Dive Sports diving mask

$18.00, Amazon

Aegend swim goggles

$9.00, Amazon

Speedo child swim googles

$17.00, Amazon

Waterproof phone case

Nothing ruins a vacation quite like having to fish your phone out of the ocean (or pool, or sink, for that matter). If you’re at all afraid of getting your phone wet by the beach, consider investing in the Osprey dry bag. This thing will keep your electronics and other valuables dry as a bone when you’re on a boat, sitting in a splash zone, or in a kayak. If you want to take your phone in the water with you, we recommend one of LifeProof’s Frē Series waterproof cases.

Otterbox LifeProof Frē phone case

$90.00, Otterbox

Osprey dry bag

$13.00, Amazon

Read more: The Best Waterproof Phone Cases

Games

If you’re traveling with kids, games will keep them happy when the shade comes out, when the water’s too cold, or when they need a new activity. For beachgoers a drive away, a Spikeball set will get plenty of use in the backyard and at the beach, but it is something you’ll have to lug onto the sand. More portable options include flying rings, Kan Jam, and water-resistant Uno cards.

Spikeball game

$70.00, Amazon

Activ Life flying rings

$15.00, Amazon

Uno Splash water-resistant cards

$11.00, Amazon

Kan Jan disc toss game

$27.00, Amazon

Portable speaker

A portable speaker might not be an essential, but it’s definitely a bonus for any beach day. JBL, Bose, and Marshall make some of our favorite portable speakers. They’re compact and lightweight enough to store in a tote bag and will stay charged all day long.

JBL Flip 5

$130.00, Amazon

JBL Go 3: portable speaker with bluetooth

$50.00, Amazon

Bose SoundLink Revolve II Portable Bluetooth Speaker

$219.00, Amazon

Marshall Willen wireless speaker

$120.00, Nordstrom

Water shoes

Water shoes are just the thing for traversing rocky patches of the beach. They also are a game changer for exploring tide pools. The traction helps you feel secure and grounded, while also protecting your feet from jagged edges and sharp objects. Our favorite pairs include these quick-drying Vifuur shoes; for something a little more stylish, Reef sandals are comfortable to walk in all day long and you don’t need to worry about getting them wet.

Vifuur water sports quick-dry shoes

$20.00, Amazon

Xero Shoes Aqua x sport warer shoes

$130.00, Rei

Seekway water shoe

$29.00, Amazon

Reef Water Vista sandals

$60.00, Reef

Beach blanket

A beach blanket is a must for room to spread out and lounge—and makes a big difference when you’re having a picnic and don’t want the sand blowing into your snacks. The best beach blankets can be rolled up neatly and toted around on your shoulder for hands-free carrying.

Ruibolu beach blanket

$16.00, Amazon

Sun Ninja beach blanket

$35.00, Amazon

Rio Roll-Up Blanket with handle

$30.00, Shelter Logic

Alps Mountaineering Wavelength blanket

$80.00, REI

Read more: The Best Beach Blankets

Beach chairs

What’s a beach day without a beach chair? The options below are comfortable, lightweight enough to carry down the boardwalk, and feature a cupholder. An even more fun option: this comfy inflatable lounger that’s just $40 on Amazon.

Tommy Bahama folding beach chair

$90.00, Tommy Bahama

GCI Outdoor Pod Rocker with sunshade

$68.00, Amazon

GCI Outdoor waterside backpack beach chair

$65.00, Amazon

Wekapo Inflatable Lounger

$40.00, Amazon

Beach umbrella or sun shade

The Fatboy sun shade folds up into an easy-to-carry travel pouch. There’s space for two adults and two kids under the tent, and you can set it up in three different configurations to suit your needs. We also love this heavy-duty beach umbrella from Sport-Brella. It’s sturdy and will last you years (if not decades).

Sport-Brella adjustable umbrella with universal clamp

$27.00, Amazon

Fatboy Miasun sun shade

$139.00, 2Modern

SPF lip balm

One spot you really don’t want to get a sunburn: your lips. There’s nothing fun about chapped, cracked lips after a day in the sun. Two non-sticky and non-tinted lip balms we love are from Supergoop and Aquaphor—they provide sun protection while moisturizing your lips for hours.

Supergoop! Play lip balm

$12.00, Supergoop!

Aquaphor lip protectant + sunscreen

$4.00, Amazon

Antibacterial wipes

Before eating lunch or after playing in the sand, it’s nice to wipe your hands clean with an antibacterial wipe. These travel-friendly hand wipes fit nicely in your backpack or tote and will always come in handy, especially if you have kids. I never travel without them (they’re also great for wiping down your plane seat and seat tray in-flight).

Wet Ones antibacterial hand wipes

$14.00, Amazon

Lysol disinfecting wipes

$7.00, Amazon

Originally Appeared on Condé Nast Traveler

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