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 family beach vacation 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 taking a day family beach 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 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
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. A family beach vacation is the perfect way to spend time making memories with your family while enjoying the sunshine and sand.
Beach Vacations are About the Experience
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 on a beach trip! A family beach vacation is 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
Often, beach vacations are just what you need to get away from the business of daily life by letting go, relaxing, and spending family time.
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 on a beach trip.
Beach Trips Create Lasting Family Memories
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 on a family beach vacation!
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
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 family beach vacation packing list, there are several things to consider:
Ultimate Family Beach Checklist Advice For Your Suitcase
- Make sure you check the local weather to be sure you pack the right clothing and supplies. This will help you plan your summer travel outfit ideas for your trip.
- 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 bring or rent beach gear? You can, in many places, rent beach gear and even beach toys! If so, this will save room in your suitcase.
- 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. My ultimate beach packing list will help you on this front. Pro tip: print my packing lists to bring with you to the store so you know what you need.
- Make sure you choose the right luggage for your vacation.
- 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.
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, beach toys, 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.
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!) We also used to bring a waterproof blanket, a pop up tent for shade, baby sunscreen (we liked Babyganics brand) and if you are going to take them into a pool or a little in the water, a floatation device that is safe and suitable for this age.
- 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 on my ultimate beach packing 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
- Flip Flops/Water Shoes
- Nice Outfit for Dinner
- Cover Up
- Sun hat
- Exercise Clothes and Sneakers
- Light Jacket
Family Beach Packing Checklist: Hygiene and Toiletries
- Essential Toiletries
- Hair Products and Hair Accessories
- Hair Dryer (check to see if your accommodations have this)
- Makeup/Beauty Products
- Hand sanitizers
- Glasses and/or contacts
- Wet wipes
- Contact solution
Family Beach Packing Checklist: Beach House Essentials to Bring
- Extra sheets
- Bath Towels/Turkish Beach Towels (unless the house has them)
- Portable hamper
- Clorox wipes
- All-Purpose Cleaning Spray
- Paper Towels
- Toilet Paper
- Stain Stick or Spray
- Downey Wrinkle Release
- Dryer Sheets
- Laundry Pods/Detergent
- Trash bags
- Dish Detergent
- Hand Soap
- Ziplock bag supply
- Disposable Tupperware or Plastic Containers
- Plastic Wrap/Aluminum Foil
- Card games
- Board games
- Drawing sets
- Activity Packs
Family Beach Packing Checklist: Beach Day Essentials
- Beach Canopy Tent (that provides sun protection)/Umbrella
- Beach Blanket
- Towels (Turkish towel)
- Portable Cooler with Ice Packs for cold drinks
- Beach Day Food
- Chairs For Beach
- Beach Bag (to carry stuff)
- Sand Toys/Shovels
- Seashell Collecting Bag or Bucket
- Boogie Boards
- Waterproof blanket
- Tent for Baby
- Adventure items (snorkel and mask, scuba equipment, etc.)
- Life Vest/Floaties for Swimming
- Swim Diapers/Dry Diapers (for babies and Toddlers)
- Portable outdoor games
- Soccer Balls/Foot Balls
- Waterproof Camera
- Wet Bag for Wet Items
- Dry Bag for Dry Items
- Sun Hats
- Bug Spray
- Waterproof Speaker
- Water Bottles
- Small First Aid Kit
- Lip Balm
- Trash Bag
- Recyclables Bag For Plastic Bottles, Plastic Containers, and Cans
Family Beach Packing Checklist: Electronics
- Power bank
- Portable charger
- Chargers for electronics
- Portable speaker
- Digital Camera/Waterproof Camera/GoPro
- Portable WiFi
- Laptop or tablet
- Batteries for games or devices
- Roku, Amazon Firestick, etc
Family Beach Packing Checklist: Entertainment
- Audiobooks App
- Kid Activity packs
- Kid Bag To Bring Stuff to Beach/Pool
- Portable DVD Player
- Travel Games
- Colored Pencils
- Clipboard with Paper
- Waterproof Camera
Family Beach Packing Checklist: Health and Safety
- Health Insurance Cards
- Traveler's Insurance Info
- First Aid Kit
- Bug Spray
- Doctors' Contact Info
- Medicine Pack
- Essential Medicines
- Allergy Medicines
- Motion Sickness Medicine
- Pain Reliever
- Upset Tummy Medication
- PPE Cleaning Pack
- Sanitizer Portable
- Sanitizer For Car
- Disinfectant Wipes
Family Beach Packing Checklist: Money and Travel Documents
- 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
- Notepad and pen
- Clothes Pins
- Portable Lock
- Clear Pouch for Phones, Keys, Money, Cards
- Waterproof Neck Pouch To Protect Phone in Water
- Stuffed Animals/Lovies
- Travel Journal
- Extra Purse for Evening
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, walking shoes, etc. You will also need toiletries, personal items, hair products, medicines, electronics, etc on your family beach packing list.
My ultimate beach packing list printable has everything you need to pack for your family vacation, so you don't have to write anything down from this list.
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, which will help lessen the items you need from your beach trip packing list.
What should I pack for a 7-day beach vacation? What should I pack for an 8-day beach vacation?
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 on your beach trip, 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?
When you're going on a beach vacation, there are some things that you don't want to forget on your beach trip packing list, like:
- Obvious items like swimsuits, sandals, sunscreen, beach bags (I prefer a shoulder bag), 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, beach towels, or beach gear
- Prescription meds and first aid supplies
- Contact Lenses/Glasses
- ID/Travel Documents/Passport/Itinerary Info
- Health Documents/Insurance/Travel Insurance Info
- Games, books, magazines, and puzzles to entertain everyone
- Portable speakers
- Wet wipes/Hand Sanitizer
- Foldable backpack for carrying things
- Reusable water bottles
- Portable cooler
- Beach Bag
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?
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.
BVWK Tip: Use your personal beach bag as a carry-on bag, so you don't have to pack it in your suitcase. 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.
- Electronics like my laptop
- Snacks – non-liquid and wrapped up
What do I need to bring to the beach for the day?
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 beach gear we bring on our beach vacations:
- Bags with towels, hats, sunglasses, extra sunscreen, cover-ups
- Dry bags with dry clothes/Wet bags for wet clothes
- Beach Bag for carrying personal items
- Books or magazines
- Cooler with food and snacks
- Sand toys
- Small first aid kit
- Beach towels or picnic blanket
- Reusable utensils
- Your wallet and keys
- Beach chairs
- Portable speaker
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 on your next beach trip.