The ULTIMATE Beach Packing List For Families (+ FREE Printable Checklist)

Our family loves taking a beach trip, and we actually make a beach packing list every time. Because, while I LOVE sticking my toes in the sand and the ocean, packing for it can be daunting.

I'm sure I don't have to tell you that going on a vacay to the surf and sand is great for all kinds of reasons. It's fun, relaxing, and a great way to spend time with family.

Our family beach vacations are where we spend a lot of time bonding, having fun playing sports, building sandcastles, taking bike rides, and playing board games. Enjoying a simple family beach house vacation is one of my favorite ways to vacation with my family.

There are actually many moving parts and beach essentials you need when you pack for your vacation full of sun and sand. Even if you are just going for the day!

Whether you're going on a relaxing vacation to Anna Maria Island, Florida, or a destination experience like Beaches Sesame Street in Turks and Caicos, or even a day trip, WHAT to pack for the beach is a common question. And, without a good list, it can be easy to forget something important.

It's a good idea to have a beach vacation packing list because it's easy to forget something when you're packing for the whole family. But my ULTIMATE family beach packing list is here to help!

This list includes the essential items you need to pack for a road trip to a family beach holiday or a plane ride to an exciting destination.

This post contains affiliate links which means I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase using this link. See my disclosures.

Why Go to the Beach for Vacation

Nauset Beach is one of the best beaches on cape cod
Cape Cod is one of our favorite places to enjoy family time at the beach.

Our family loves going to the beach, whether it's close to home in Cape Cod or Martha's Vineyard, or a place further away like Maui or San Diego. It's the perfect way to spend time making memories with your family while enjoying the sunshine and sand.

Beach Vacations are About the Experience

kids making sand castles for beach packing list family
Photo credit: stock image via CANVA

Beach trips are all about the experience. I love the simplicity of hunting for seashells with my kids and making sandcastles by the frothy ocean.

My husband and boys love kicking a soccer ball or throwing a football in the sand, my daughter and I love hunting for perfect seashells, and we all love surfing the waves on the boogie board! It's a special way to spend time together.

Even visiting the souvenir stores and boardwalks and shops and playing post-dinner minigolf is all part of the fun. It's about eating the freshest seafood and experiencing sites that only a beach destination has.

Whether you're diving on a coral reef, snorkeling in crystal clear waters, collecting seashells, touring a lighthouse, or watching the kids race down a boardwalk for saltwater taffy, a beach vacation refreshes you like no other trip can do.

Beach Trips Allow You to Escape Your Busy Life and Relax

family sitting on the beach and playing in the water for beach packing list family
Photo credit: stock image via CANVA

Often, a beach vacation is just what you need to get away from the business of daily life by letting go, relaxing, and spending family time.

Whether it's relaxing by a bonfire, playing family travel board games, reading great books, or just lying in the sand soaking up fun in the sun – the ocean washes all your worries away for a while.

And when it comes time for dinner at sunset, there are few places as beautiful as a waterfront restaurant watching the sun go down over the ocean horizon.

Beach Trips Create Lasting Family Memories

family posing on the beach - beach packing list family
Photo credit: stock image via CANVA

The carefree life of the beach is special. Watching the time go by when everyone is having so much fun playing in the sand or exploring tide pools together creates the best memories. 

There's a reason why so many people take those family photos at the seashore you see on your holiday cards!

It's also a place you can see your kids grow up. From little ones as toddlers smashing the sandcastles they just built in Turks and Caicos to now, taking surfing lessons and snorkeling in Maui, our family finds that the beach is our happy place to enjoy life and important milestones.

And what better place is there for creating lasting family memories than at the beach!

Family Beach Packing List: Tips and Advice

kids standing by car with beach essentials for beach packing list family
Photo credit: stock image via CANVA

So now you are ready to hit the beach, let's talk about tips and advice for planning your packing and what to put in your bag. When you start to think of the things you need on your beach vacation packing list, there are several things to consider:

Family Beach Checklist Advice For Your Suitcase

  • Make sure you check the local weather to be sure you pack the right clothing and supplies.
  • Will you be going on an adventure like snorkeling, scuba diving, or hiking (you may need water shoes for(?
  • Can your kids swim, and do they need any swim supports like life vests or floaties? These items can take up space so we used to pack them in an extra bag.
  • Will you buy a lot of souvenirs? We often pack an extra bag for those as well.
  • Planning is key – Preparing a couple of weeks in advance allows you to purchase the things you don't already have for your trip, especially sunscreen. Pro tip: print my packing lists to bring with you to the store so you know what you need.
  • Pack capsule clothing items that you can mix or match with other pieces so you can pack less clothing and make the process easier.
  • Bring lightweight clothing which not only keeps you cooler but they take up less space and your suitcase light, though remember a sweater or sweatshirt in case the weather chills in the evening.
  • Pack a dressier outfit, especially if you are on a cruise for nice dinners out with the family. 
  • Choose the best way to pack that works for you, like rolling your clothes instead of folding them. Often your clothing comes out better that way after traveling. It also makes more room in your suitcase.
  • You may want to use packing cubes because they really help you pack like a pro and stay organized. 
kids playing in the sand for beach packing list family
Photo credit: stock image via CANVA

Family Beach Checklist Advice For Additional Items

  • Be sure to check before you pack if your hotel or home rental you're staying has a washing machine, then that makes things easier too because you can pack lighter and wear clothes over again.
  • I also suggest checking if your hotel or home rental has towels, sheets, and supplies so you don't have to bring them.
  • Print copies of this checklist so your kids can have their own packing lists. This way, they help you pack their suitcases (mom to mom tip – double-check their suitcases after they are finished.)
  • If you can't check into your hotel or home rental early, have a swimsuit in your carry-on so you can at least enjoy the pool or ocean while you wait.
kids wearing snorkel gear for beach packing list family
Photo credit: stock image via CANVA

Family Beach Vacation Travel Tips

  • Be sure to print paper tickets and keep them where they are easy to find and access. Even with most airlines going to digital tickets, you never know when technology will break down. 
  • The same thing can happen with money on your trip. In case your bank goes down, or something happens, you want to take some cash with you. This also helps if you need tips for hotel staff or airport staff who help you. Make sure to convert it to the currency of your vacation destination.
  • Also, keep credit cards in multiple places in case someone steals your purse or wallet. If your spouse has a credit card, you have one, and you keep one in the safe in your hotel or beach house, you can ensure you have backups. Be careful about bringing valuables to the beach.
  • It's a good idea to keep your personal details on you like your name, address, next of kin, medical issues, etc., in case something happens to you and you end up in the hospital. Accidents happen even on vacation. It's also a good idea to get travel insurance.
  • If you are flying to your destination, use your beach bag as your carry-on to save space.
  • Traveling with a toddler or a baby? Consider Instacarting diapers, swim diapers, formula, and baby food once you arrive to keep your suitcase lightweight. You can also buy sand toys at the destination at a local grocery store or from Target (I recently ordered three sand shovels from Instacart!)
  • If you are planning to travel with large adventure items like scuba equipment or a surfboard, check with the airline on how to check this as there may be a fee or you may need to put it in oversized luggage.

Complete Beach Packing Checklist for Families

See the essentials list for a week below, so you know all the essential items you need to take on vacation. You can also download my FREE Printable Beach Packing List For Families to make it easier for your planning!

Family Beach Packing Checklist: Essential Clothing

  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Pajamas
  • Shorts
  • Tops
  • Shoes
  • Socks
  • Sandals
  • Flip Flops/Water Shoes
  • Sweater/Sweatshirt
  • Nice Outfit for Dinner
  • Cover Up
  • Swimsuits
  • Sun hat
  • Accessories/Jewelry
  • Sunglasses
  • Exercise Clothes and Sneakers
  • Light Jacket
  • Suitcase

Family Beach Packing Checklist: Hygiene and Toiletries

  • Essential Toiletries
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Hair Products and Hair Accessories
  • Hair Dryer (check to see if your accommodations have this)
  • Deodorant
  • Razor
  • Makeup/Beauty Products
  • Hand sanitizers
  • Glasses and/or contacts
  • Wet wipes
  • Contact solution

Family Beach Packing Checklist: Beach House Essentials to Bring

BVWK Tip
Check if there is Instacart or grocery delivery to bring groceries to your house. You can also rent beach chairs, tents, wagons, floaties, and sand toys! You may also want to check with the Airbnb or hotel as sometimes these are available for free.

Family Beach Packing Checklist: Beach Day Essentials

Family Beach Packing Checklist: Electronics

Family Beach Packing Checklist: Entertainment

Family Beach Packing Checklist: Health and Safety

  • Health Insurance Cards
  • Traveler's Insurance Info
  • First Aid Kit
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Doctors' Contact Info
  • Medicine Pack
  • Essential Medicines
  • Prescriptions
  • Contacts/Glasses
  • Allergy Medicines
  • Motion Sickness Medicine
  • Thermometer
  • Pain Reliever
  • Upset Tummy Medication
  • PPE Cleaning Pack
    • Masks
    • Sanitizer Portable
    • Sanitizer For Car
    • Disinfectant Wipes
    • Gloves

Family Beach Packing Checklist: Money and Travel Documents

  • Cash
  • Credit Cards
  • Traveler's Checks
  • Coins for car parking, etc.
  • Travel Wallet
  • Travel Purse
  • Portable Safe
  • Travel Documents/ID/Passport
  • House/Petsitter Contact Info
  • Travel Itinerary
  • Flight Details
  • Accommodation Info
  • Activity Info
  • Tour Contacts

Family Beach Packing Checklist: Miscellaneous

FAQs

Kids playing in the sand at the beach.
Decide if you are looking for a relaxing beach vacation or a more active sightseeing experience when planning what to pack.

What do I need for a family beach vacation?

You need the normal clothes you'll plan to wear, as well as shoes like sandals, water shoes, sneakers, etc. You will also need toiletries, personal items, hair products, medicines, electronics, etc

My family beach packing list printable has everything you need to pack for your vacation.

If you are staying in a rental home or hotel, be sure and check what amenities are on-site or if you can rent items you might need. For example, if there is a washer and dryer, you can pack fewer clothes, but you might need laundry detergent.

On our recent visit to Anna Maria Island, our VRBO had towels, laundry, and a kitchen, and plenty of chairs, a wagon, and sand toys included for free. However, there was also a place to rent additional needs like a wagon and tent. So you may not need to bring these items with you.

What should I pack for a 7-day beach vacation? What should I pack for an 8-day beach vacation?

vacation-rentals-for-families-beachhouse and beach chairs

Some of this is up to personal preference, and if you have laundry at your location. My beach packing list can be used to plan to travel for a 7-day beach vacation or for an 8-day beach vacation.

But if you DON'T have laundry or a way to wash clothes, I recommend one outfit per day, including underwear, socks, etc., ESPECIALLY FOR KIDS. And, don't forget a few days of pajamas.

Plus, I always add one or two extras, just in case. If you bring light clothing, often this can be hand washed and hung dry.

If you do have laundry, you can travel light, as clothing items can be reused. I always bring multiple swimsuits and coverups for myself and several for our kids, as they often take a day or two to dry.

What should you NOT FORGET to pack for a beach vacation?

couple looking at the beach on anna maria island

When you're going on a beach vacation, there are some things that you don't want to forget, like:

  • Obvious items like swimsuits, sandals, sunscreen, beach bags, hats, sunglasses, etc.
  • Power bank and charging cords for electronics – extra-long ones are great for vacation
  • Trash bags
  • Things your beach house or hotel may not have like extra sheets, bath towels, or beach towels
  • Prescription meds and first aid supplies
  • Contact Lenses/Glasses
  • ID/Travel Documents/Passport/Itinerary Info
  • Health Documents/Insurance/Travel Insurance Info
  • Phone
  • Games, books, magazines, and puzzles to entertain everyone
  • Portable speakers
  • Wet wipes/Hand Sanitizer
  • Foldable backpack for carrying things
  • Reusable water bottles
  • Portable cooler
  • Snacks

My FREE PRINTABLE FAMILY BEACH PACKING CHECKLIST should help you have everything you need for your vacation.

What should I pack in my carry-on?

things-to-do-in-maui-kaanapali

If you are flying to your family beach vacation, I recommend the following items in the adult carry-ons. And for the kids, check out my post (and grab a free kid packing list) for the best things to bring in your kids' carry-on luggage.

Here's what I don't leave home without in my carry-on, in case my suitcase gets lost:

  • 1 change of clothes
  • Travel documents like your driver’s license and passport
  • Cell phone charger and Cell Phone
  • Valuables like jewelry, your laptop, tablet, camera, etc.
  • Medications you need, contact lenses, glasses
  • A water bottle
  • Books or magazines for the flight
  • Toiletry items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, facial cleaner, Chapstick, etc.
  • Blanket
  • Electronics like my laptop
  • Snacks – non-liquid and wrapped up

Check out my top things to pack in kids' carryons!

What do I need to bring to the beach for the day?

things to do on anna maria island beach

While the exact things you take may be unique to your family, here are some things to consider taking with you for a day at the beach. Our family loves to use a wagon, but here's what we bring:

  • Wagon
  • Tent/Umbrella
  • Bags with towels, hats, sunglasses, extra sunscreen, cover-ups
  • Dry bags with dry clothes/Wet bags for wet clothes
  • Books or magazines
  • Waterbottles
  • Cooler with food and snacks
  • Sand toys
  • Small first aid kit
  • Beach towels or picnic blanket
  • Reusable utensils
  • Trashbag
  • Your wallet and keys
  • Beach chairs
  • Portable speaker
  • Phone

And other things on this ultimate beach packing list.

Final Thoughts on Beach Packing List For Families

After many family beach trip vacations, we created this beach vacation packing list, so we always had everything the whole family needed. You can change it depending on if you are flying or plan on taking a road trip to your beach trip vacation. But this ULTIMATE Family Beach Packing List should help you not forget all of the essential items.

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