When packing for a beach vacation with the family, it’s important that you pack all the beach essentials that will help you get coverage from the sun, making sure you have everything the kids need for the beach including beach toys, snacks, and safety gear, and that your valuables are safe from both theft and water. Here is our Ultimate Family Beach Vacation Packing List for day trips to the beach or weeklong resort vacation.
Ultimate Family Beach Vacation Packing List:
Personal Items to Pack for the Beach:
- Cellphone + Cellphone Waterproof Case – Keep your phone safe especially if you plan to ride a boat to visit another island by bringing a waterproof case for your phone. We typically bring this when going down to play on the beach whenever we go on a cruise.
- Driver’s License
- Credit or Debit Cards
- Car & House Keys
- Health Insurance cards
- Mint or Gum
- Hand Sanitizer
- Basic Medication
- Portable Lock Box Safe – To keep your valuable items safe at the beach, get this portable lock box safe that has a 3-digit custom combination code + key access. Hide it in your beach tote or lock it to any fixed object with the cable for an extra layer of security. It’s lightweight yet durable. Bonus: it’s water-resistant.
What to Pack for the Car Ride to the Beach:
- Auto insurance cards
- Car chargers
- Snacks & drinks
- Portable game console for the kids
- or check our Road Trip Packing List
Beach Packing Essentials:
- Beach Tote with Insulated Bottom – Unless you’re bringing a separate cooler, I would suggest getting a beach tote with an insulated area for some food and drinks. If you won’t be using it to keep food cool, you can stuff wet clothes inside it after the trip to the beach.
- Lightweight Quick-Dry Beach Towel – Cotton beach towels are really bulky. For those who live near the beach but not near enough that you’d still have to bike there, I would suggest bringing a microfiber beach towel. It dries 5x faster and it folds to the size of a water bottle so you don’t have to pack a lot in your backpack on the way to the beach.
- 2 bathing suits each
- Water Shoes – Unless you’re headed to a beach with fine sand and perfect weather, chances are, the sand will be really hot &/or you’ll accidentally be stepping on rocks both on the sand and in the water. Invest in water shoes so you can protect your feet from sharp objects and hot beaches. It’s also great for the kids to have them when going to a splash pad as it is slip resistant.
- Dry Bag – To keep your clothes and belongings dry, bring a dry bag especially if you are going to ride a boat or riding a tender from your cruise to get to the beach. We have one and it’s very useful. We keep all the dry clothes in it on the way to the beach then use it to put all the wet and sandy clothes after the trip.
- Pop-Up Beach Tent – We’ve experienced being out on the beach without an umbrella, tent, or canopy of some sort. Never again! Get some cover from the sun without hauling a big canopy tent with this pop-up tent (no assembly required). Great for taking a nap at the beach and keeping babies from overheating out in the sun. When folded, it’s about the same size as a foldable car windshield cover. You can carry it as a backpack so even those walking or biking to the beach can bring it. Comes with 3 extra sand pockets and pegs so the tent can stay put even under high winds.
- Umbrella Canopy in 1 – Another version of a canopy is an umbrella canopy. Instead of bringing a beach umbrella, this gives you extra coverage with the tent-style sides. And compared to the pop-up beach tent above, this doesn’t have a bottom lining so it’s perfect for those who wish to put a chair. It’s designed to be wind-resistant as well. When broken down, it stores as a simple 54”x4”x4” unit and weighs 9 lbs. It also comes with 8 steel ground stakes and 3 tie-down cords in case it is windy.
- Instant Canopy Pop-Up Tent – If you are going to the beach with a bigger family or group and intend to stay for hours, I would suggest bringing this 10×10 canopy tent to keep everyone covered so you can stay on the beach longer. This beach canopy tent can easily be pop-up. Put your beach chairs, cooler, everything.
- Folding Picnic Table – If you’re looking for a portable table for your picnic at the beach with the family, this is it. It can be folded down into a suitcase size.
- Umbrella Tray – If you already have an upright umbrella for the beach, just bring an umbrella tray with you to place your drinks.
- Sand-Free Beach Mat – If you hate the fact that the sand keeps getting on your beach blanket, put a sand-free beach mat before laying down your towels. The way this beach mat is designed is it will shake off the sand and leave it in the bottom – not 100%, but it will help a lot.
- Foldable Rolling Cooler – Hardly any beaches have food and drinks so bring your own especially if you’re traveling with kids. We always bring our rolling cooler with us – road trips, trips to the beach, hotel stays, etc. Both the cooler and the roller can be folded down so if we don’t need it, it’s easy to stow away. When we’re in the car, we only flip the small top to get drinks. We also bring it to our hotel room if it doesn’t have a mini fridge so we can keep drinks cool.
- Beach Sling Chair – If you want to lounge around versus hitting the waters. Save your back from the pain of sitting too long on the beach blanket by bringing a foldable beach chair that comes with a sling bag so you can easily carry it to the beach and back. If you love staying low and as close to the sand as possible, get a low beach chair. If you have a hard time getting up from a low chair, get a higher one instead.
- Air-Sofa – This portable lounger doesn’t need a pump, just whisk it through the air to inflate and you have yourself a beach lounger that’s easy to fold away.
- Beach Wagon Cart – Going to the beach with the family means you have to pack more things. Think sand toys, more towels, more snacks, etc. Whether you’re going to a resort or visiting a public beach where parking is not ideally situated, I would suggest bringing a wagon cart to haul all your beach essentials in.
- Swim goggles
- Water bottles for everyone
- Paper towels
- Bottle opener
- Garbage bag
- Spray Sunscreen – It’s important to re-apply sunscreen while you’re at the beach. Don’t buy the lotion type of sunscreen as you will be slathering sunscreen and sand from beach altogether if you do. Spray sunscreen is the way to go. Not only is it easier to apply right when you get to the beach, but it’s also easier to re-apply after a few hours in the sun.
Beach Packing List for Baby, Toddler or Young Kids:
- Hooded Beach Towel – For the kids, it’s better to bring them hooded beach towel. We used it both on our pool and on trips to the beach. It’s easier to put on the kids, it won’t fall like a regular towel, and they can be in and out of it as they snack in between dips in the water.
- Life Jacket for Kids – Our kids are about 2 swimming lessons away (fingers crossed) from really learning how to swim. We bought this life jacket for our pool and have been bringing it to the beach for safety measures. If you need floaties, invest in this versus the inflatable ones as these are more reliable. We had the inflatable ones for the arms before and it ended up getting a hole and won’t inflate anymore. This slides into the arm and goes in front of the chest.
- Sand Toy Set – Our young kids really enjoy the beach for 2 reasons – playing with sand and being on the shoreline waiting for the water to come in to wet their feet. Make sure you bring the sand toys and to check that it has a bucket because the kids will be needing the water when they play.
- Hat with Neck Flap & Drawstring – One of the best things I’ve bought for the kids is a hat with neck flap. It really has good coverage that I don’t need to worry about their back getting sunburnt while their heads are bent down trying to build sandcastles. We’ve used it at Sequoia National Park, while Strawberry Picking, and many trips to the beach. Moms, get your own Hat with Neck Flap as well.
- Kid-friendly Frisbees – If you want to play frisbee at the beach, get these Activ Flyers. They are designed to fly straight and can be caught in the smallest of hands, on your wrist or even your foot! They are also 80% lighter than typical flying disc so it’s easier to pack, throw and catch.
- Beach Chair for Babies and Toddlers with Sun Canopy – Prop the baby up on a chair in this beach chair that comes with a sun canopy. Great for 3 months to 75 lbs. It comes with a 5-point removable harness, snack tray, sun canopy, and carry bag.
- Baby Float with Canopy – Babies can enjoy being on the water in a float activity center. It comes with a canopy which provides UPF 50+ sun protection and meshed sides for see-through visibility.
Flexible Sunglass for Kids – We tend to forget that we should also be protecting the eyes of our kids. Make sure to pack a sunglass for them when going to the beach.
Technology and Entertainment:
- Waterproof camera
- Digital camera
- Selfie stick/Tripod Combo with Remote
- Tablet (Ipad)
- Lipstick-Sized Phone Portable Charger
- Cords & chargers
- Sports (Frisbee, Volleyball)
- Deck of cards
- Board games
- Note pads
- Pens & colored pencils
- Body Boards
If you’re flying to a resort:
- Passport Holder
- Flight Documents
- Frequent Flyer Card
- Hand-Carry Bag
- or check our Airplane Packing List
Resort Packing List:
- Underwear & bras
- Maxi Dress – check 20 Long Maxi Dresses for your Resort Vacation
- Dinner outfits
- Light jackets/wrap
- Workout Clothes
- Running GPS
- Sneakers – Tennis & Running
- Soap/Body Wash
- Aloe – Everyone should go home with memories not sunburn, but just in case, you can bring this aloe gel to soothe the skin in case you do get a sunburn.
- Flat iron
- Hair dryer
- Hair elastics and clips
- Hair gel
- Shower Cap
- Safety Pins
- Contacts & case
- Contact solution
- Makeup bag
- Feminine products
- Cotton swabs/cotton balls
- Nail polish & remover
- Nail clipper and file
- Stain Remover
- For the mom
- For the husband
- For the kids
- First-Aid Kit (Band-aids, ointment, etc.)
- Anti-nausea (in case you’re riding a boat ride)
For your hotel or resort stay:
- Rental/Hotel Confirmation Information
- Portable hamper
- Air freshener
- Night light
- Clip for the curtains
- Slippers for the hotel room
- Laundry detergent
- Dryer sheets
- or check our Hotel Packing List
Extras if you’re staying in a house rental property:
- Extra sheets for the pullout couch
- Clorox disinfecting cleaning wipes
Extra beach accessories:
- Drink Cup Holder – This is a great beach accessory as it holds your drinks down with pointed spiker stakes that go easily into wet or dry sand. It also comes with a built-in bottle opener. You can also use these drink cup holder to hold bottles, snacks, phones, keys, and other beach supplies.
- Clamp Cup Holder – If you are bringing an umbrella, a tent, or a chair. You can clamp this cup holders to it for your water bottles. It’s available in 16 colors in case you’re not into hot pink, haha.
- Waterproof Pouch – To keep more things waterproof, your money, your phone, just get a waterproof pouch with a waist strap. It’s perfect for boating, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, playing in the pool, beach, and water parks.
- Pocket Blanket – It happens to us all the time! We’ll go somewhere and we’ll end up at the beach even if we don’t have a blanket. We’ll end up sitting on our jacket coz’ that’s what we have in the car. Well, not anymore ever since I bought a pocket beach blanket that I keep in the car, bring with me when we cruise, and pack on my luggage when we fly – for those impromptu trips to the beach wherever we may be.
Before leaving your home:
Don’t just go through your beach packing checklist, make sure your mind is on vacation mode the moment you hit the sand by making sure you’ve kept everything ready in the homefront as well. Here are the things you need to consider before going to your beach vacation.
- Get a pet sitter plus leave pet food
- Empty garbage
- Empty fridge
- Check Mail/Hold Mail
- Pre-pay Bills
- Put lights on a timer
- Unplug unnecessary appliances
- Adjust thermostat
- Secure Valuables
- Leave itinerary with family or close friend
- Check all doors and windows and set the house alarm
- Re-check if you’ve closed the garage after leaving
Enjoy your trip to the beach!