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The Essential Beach Packing List

SmarterTravel

Headed on a beach vacation? Use our essential beach packing list to help you pack everything you’ll need for a relaxing beach getaway. Best of all, it can save you money, since packing the right things now will keep you from having to repurchase items once you arrive. (Just click on the below image or this link to download, edit, or print).

Let other people sweat the small stuff, and streamline your list of hot weather must-haves so you look cool, even when the temperature isn’t. Here’s what to pack for the beach—without overpacking.

What are your must-pack beach essentials? Share them in the comments!

beach packing list

Clothes/Accessories

  • Bathing suits
  • Cover-up
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Sandals/flip-flops
  • Water shoes
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Undershirts/bras
  • Sleepwear
  • T-shirts
  • Dress shirts (if needed)
  • Casual shirts
  • Jeans/pants
  • Shorts
  • Dresses
  • Skirts
  • Light jacket/sweater
  • Leisure shoes
  • Belt
  • Jewelry
  • Beach bag
  • Small purse/clutch
  • Athletic shoes
  • Workout gear

Toiletries

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Soap
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Brush/comb
  • Hairstyling products
  • Hairstyling tools
  • Moisturizer
  • Contact lenses/solution
  • Shaving supplies
  • Clothespins
  • Makeup/makeup remover
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Birth control
  • Nail file/clippers
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Travel first aid kit
  • Medications/vitamins
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm with SPF
  • Aloe vera/after sun cream
  • Insect repellent
  • Disposable wipes

Beach Gear

  • Beach umbrella
  • Beach blanket/towel
  • Beach chairs
  • Beach sports and water toys
  • Snorkel gear
  • Safety/floatation devices
  • Cooler or insulated bag
  • Waterproof phone case
  • Portable speaker
  • Beach safe

Travel Essentials

  • Water bottle
  • Reading material
  • Passport/visa/ID
  • Itinerary/directions or maps
  • Guidebook
  • Cash
  • Credit cards/ATM cards
  • Insurance cards (medical and travel)
  • List of medications
  • Emergency contacts
  • Copies of passport/credit cards
  • Cell phone
  • Electronics chargers
  • Adapter
  • Camera w/memory card
  • Snacks
  • Tablet/laptop
  • Portable phone charger
  • Suitcase locks
  • Travel pillow & blanket
  • Earbuds/headphones
  • Tissues
  • Reusable baggies/small dry bag

Other Beach Packing Tips

Overall Plan: Light and breezy items should dominate your wardrobe choices. While you want to be comfortable, skip the faded and raggedy T-shirts and instead aim for a summery look that’s polished, not dumpy. And while you may want to concentrate on getting there, make sure you spend some time thinking about how you’ll transport wet and sandy items back home. There’s nothing worse than a suitcase full of sand. CGear has a line of products, including lounge chairs, blankets, and bags, that are “sand-free” and are must-have additions to your beach packing list.

What’s Essential? You might hate shopping for them, but no beach vacation is complete without a swimsuit. Buy more than one so there’s always something dry to wear, and bring them along in your carry-on. For your feet, bring flip-flops, sandals, water shoes, or canvas tennis shoes, depending on the type of beach you’re on.

Choose a mesh or nylon beach bag with a distinctive pattern so it’s easy to spot among the crowds, and make sure it has inside pockets, preferably waterproof, to store valuables and small electronics such as your cell phone. Speaking of gadgets, make sure that they’re waterproof or have protective covers. A soft-sided insulated tote for drinks and snacks is easier to carry than a bulky cooler. Pack some disposable wipes for quick clean-up. Reusable plastic bags can be your best friend: Use them to bring food to the beach, and then carry wet swimsuits and towels on the way home. And you’ll probably want a portable speaker, too. For more ideas, see 15 Beach Bag Essentials You Need for Summer.

Secret Weapon: If you wear corrective lenses and your beach sessions involve exploring reefs for colorful fish, you’ll want to invest in a prescription snorkel mask. Having your own mask can also prevent communicable diseases (I once got a wicked case of pinkeye from a tainted snorkel mask in Costa Rica).

Safety First: No matter how good it feels, the sun is not your friend. Load up on sun protection with a strong sunscreen that you can reapply often. If you’re traveling to your destination by plane, look into sunscreen towelettes that won’t explode or leak. When you’re lathering up, don’t forget your face. Add lip balm, and wear sunglasses and a hat. Make sure to check the environmental regulations at your beach destination, as some places are banning harmful and coral-damaging chemical sunscreens. Instead, shop for reef-safe sunscreens.

Leave at Home: Being on the beach is an excuse to cut loose; avoid bringing clothing that’s too stuffy or structured. If you’re staying at a hotel, find out ahead of time if towels and other beach amenities are included. Many vacation rentals also have “house” items such as camp chairs and barbecue grills so there’s no need to bring your own.

Our Favorite Beachy Style Picks

 

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Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2012. It has been updated to reflect the most current information. Chris Gray Faust contributed to this story.

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