Ahhh! Tropical breeze and salty air paired with a glass of fruity mojito…PERFECT! When it comes to finding the perfect vacation spot for unwinding and releasing modern life stress, the beach can never go wrong. Whether it’s just for a small afternoon break, for a day trip, or even for a week, the beach offers endless sunshine and peace that can keep you hooked for days. BUT! Somehow, when it comes to figuring out our beach vacation packing list, things start to get hectic.
‘Should I bring this blue towel or that one?”
“Do you think it’ll rain? Should we bring an umbrella just in case?”
“Should I bring sneakers just in case? But would I even wear them?”
Yea, all these questions were asked by me, myself, and I when planning for my trip to the Phi Phi Islands in Thailand. Even though I only stayed there for less than three days, I spent hours thinking about what I should bring. But honestly, it doesn’t even have to be that complicated. Depending on the type of beach vacation you’re going on, your essential items will vary accordingly. For example, if you’re planning on going into the water and maybe do water activities, you’ll need to be much more prepared than someone who’s just going to the beach to suntan.
How Long Is Your Beach Vacation?
Another important factor that will depend on how long your beach vacation is. The number of outfits and swimwear you’ll need can vary a lot for a weekend trip and a two-week trip. Of course, if you subscribe to the minimalist lifestyle, then you shouldn’t have to worry about over-stuffing your luggage with unnecessary items. But if you’re like me, who liked to bring 20 pairs of underwear for a three-day trip (because you never know), then you’ll probably want to think hard on what you ACTUALLY NEED, and not what YOU THINK YOU NEED. Apparently, there’s a major difference between the two, like a good 40-pound difference LMAO!
The best way that has helped me reduce the amount of clothing and items on a trip is to ask myself this “Marie Kondo” question, “Does it bring you joy?” I know, sounds strange, but hear me out. A lot of the time, we like to bring a lot of excessive stuff on our trip because we feel like we’ll need it. For example, I brought three extra pairs of jean shorts on my weekend trip to Santa Barbara just because I felt that I might wear it. But deep down inside, I knew that they don’t bring me joy. I don’t even wear these shorts in my daily life, so what makes me think I’ll wear them on my trip? Excitement messes with my head for real!
Beach Vacation Packing List For The Gals
1. Bikinis! Of course
2. Accessories (To Look Cute At All Times)
- Any pair of sunglasses you can find
- A beach hat to block the sun from your precious face
- Head Band/Head Scarf to keep hair out of the way
- Scrunchies because our necks need to breathe
3. Beach Outfits
Beach Vacation Packing List For The Guys
1. Swim Shorts
- Any pair of sunglasses you can find at your nearest location, lol
- Bucket hats because they’re awesome! And they also protect the eyes from harsh sunlight
- Slim minimalist wallet
- Bandanas to help keep your hair out of the way while looking fly
3. Beach Outfits
The Absolute Must-Haves
These are the travel items that I think should be the top priority in your beach vacation packing list. If you end up forgetting everything else on your list, as long as you have these, you should be okay.
Sunscreen is so important for preventing skin cancer and wrinkles in the future. At the beach, the sunlight reflects off surfaces like the water and the sand, and returns all the harsh UV rays onto us. And don’t forget the direct sunlight that’s hitting us from above. Being exposed to these light rays, we have to stay extra protected to make sure our skin stays healthy.
2. Beach Towel
Even if you don’t plan on getting in the water, a beach towel can still be useful for suntanning. And also, since the wind can get quite chilly at night (in some places like California), a beach towel can also serve as a little cardigan to keep yourself warm.
Ashy elbows and dry ankles are a big no-no! Our skin needs to be glistening and blinding everyone wherever we go. ESPECIALLY at the beach. So make sure that lotion is in your beach vacation packing list. You’ll thank me later!
4. Refillable Water Bottle
Hydration is key when you’re out in the sun all day every day. Bring a refillable water bottle with you so that you won’t have to spend money buying plastic water bottles. Plus, in popular vacation beaches, vendors like to upcharge like crazy to get that tourism money. So by bringing our own water bottle, we not only save the environment but also our bank accounts.
5. Flip Flops
As I’ve mentioned in the Top 15 Affordable Hostel Essentials That You’ll Need, Havaianas flip flops are my absolute favorites. They’re probably the most comfortable flip flops I’ve ever owned, and I literally wear them everywhere. At the beach, the last thing you want is probably your sandy wet toes getting into your sneakers. Plus, it’s usually pretty humid at the beach, so flip flops would definitely be a more comfortable choice. Our toes need some fresh air!
6. Water-Proof Phone Pouch (If you’re getting near the water)
I didn’t know these phone pouches existed until I saw my friend using it while we were snorkeling. I feel like such a grandma because apparently, these things have been around for a good while now. And I think it’s super useful especially when we don’t want to spend extra money on waterproof phones.
What Bags To Bring To The Beach?
- A dry bag is essential if you don’t want anything important getting wet while at the beach
- A collapsible cooler bag which is great if you want to bring cold drinks, fruits, or any perishable food
- A Mesh Beach Bag With Several Pockets is perfect stuffing tons of stuff in one bag while staying organized
- A crossbody bag or fanny pack can help you keep important personal items close while on the go
Miscellaneous Items For The Trip
- Passport & IDs because without them, we can’t go anywhere
- Travel Insurance Card because God forbid anything happens
- Copy of Important Information such as Visa & Reservations
- Medication & Vitamins to help us stay healthy on our vacation
- Ear Plugs & Eye Mask so that I can have my peace at all times, lol
- Power Bank to make sure that your phone stays charged in case of emergency situations
- Personal Hygiene Products because hygiene is number one!
- Cash in Local Currency just in case anything happens to your credit/debit card while abroad
- First-Aid Kit because we always have to stay prepared. You never know!
- Make-up & Personal Care Products for beauty purposes haha
How To Pack Like A Pro?
As I’ve mentioned in my other post on “How to Pack a Suitcase: Easy Tricks & Methods“, the use of packing cubes can really change the game when it comes to organizing your luggage and making the whole process easier.
- Make a packing list before proceeding to the next step. Sometimes we get too excited about a trip and start packing right away without even taking the time to make a packing list first. And this is a big mistake! By not having an overview of items to pack, we easily lose track of things. And that’s how we end up forgetting important travel essentials later on. So, before we start packing, we should always make a list.
- Use The Marie Kondo folding method for clothes than you don’t mind getting wrinkly. And use packing cubes for clothes that should stay neat. Instead of just stuffing all your clothes inside the luggage with no kind of organization whatsoever, using packing cubes and an efficient folding method can do wonders for your travel lifestyle. I didn’t believe in the use of any of these methods, until I saw my friend do it. Her suitcase was so neat and organized, while mine was just a bit hot mess next to hers. Needless to say, that was pretty embarrassing.
- Consolidate Toiletries & Miscellaneous items by placing them in separate tiny bags based on their respective categories. This can truly save you a lot of headaches when it comes to finding stuff in a hurry. I can’t remember how many times I wanted to scream out of rage because I couldn’t remember where I put my things. Especially small stuff like USB and phone chargers. Ugh! It’s the worst feeling. But what has helped me a lot is labeling my packing cubes/bags. And you can get these stickers labels from Target or HomeDepot.
Minimalist Packing For Beach Vacation
Okay, so this section is dedicated to all the minimalists, or minimalist-wanna-be like me! Maybe carrying a thousand bags of random stuff just to go to a weekend beach vacation sounds like a nightmare to you. Or you honestly do not give a crap about what you’re wearing to the beach. Or… maybe you’re just lazy like me, and would rather not spend hours thinking about what to pack in your luggage.
And so here are some tips for you:
1. Mix & Match
Neutral tees and tank tops are honestly my best friends whenever I visit anywhere tropical. Especially if the Airbnb or hotel you’re staying at has a washing machine. You can basically wear these essential pieces every single day and I bet no one will ever notice or mention a thing. Colorful shorts or long skirts will go really well with these plain tops. And so you can still look cute without having over-stuff your luggage
2. Bring A Smaller Suitcase
The best way to achieve minimalist packing is probably just to bring a smaller suitcase. This way, no matter how tempted you are to bring your entire closet with you, you won’t. There are so many adorable small luggages out there, especially on Amazon where you can find super affordable ones for just around $50 bucks.
3. Make Sure You’ll Actually Wear The Clothes
How many times have you tried to be creative or adventurous by bringing clothing items that you don’t normally wear on a daily basis, because you somehow think that once you arrive at the travel destination, you’ll transform into a different person and will be daring enough to wear that sexy sundress you packed in the luggage….. Yea, I’ll be the first to admit. THAT’S ME. And so here I am telling you, please take a moment before packing that skirt or that shirt, and calculate the probability of you actually wearing it on your trip. If the probability is less than 50%, then I’d say just leave it at home, girl.
I know this sounds kind of weird. But I do this every time when I’m packing for a short trip. If it’s a three-day weekend trip let’s say. I’d close my eyes and visualize the activities I’ll be doing, the exact places I’d be visiting, and so that I can try to predict whether or not I might need to bring an extra pair of shoes or an extra pair of shorts just in case. And I also like to visualize each outfit I’ll be wearing so that I can get a feel of whether or not it is appropriate for the country or city I’m visiting. Of course, you do not have to follow this advice by any means, I’m just kind of extra.
What Clothing Items To Bring
This list is just an example of what I’d bring for a short three-day beach vacation. You can definitely add or subtract any of these items as you find fit
- 2 Pairs of Shorts
- 2-3 Tank tops/T-shirts (Plain)
- A pair of Flip-flops
- A pair of walking shoes
- Underwear (However many you like, lol)
- A cute sundress or long skirt
- 2-3 bras (Depending on how hot the location is)
- 2 Pairs of socks
- 2 Bathing Suits
Again, you might be able to get away with even less items if your travel accommodation provides washing machines and dryers. But if they don’t, and the travel location you’re visiting is extremely hot, then I’d advice that you maybe bring extra clothing items just so that you won’t have to worry about re-wearing the same sweat-drenched clothes.
Bonus! Awesome Things You Might Want To Bring
Listening to Bob Marley’s “One Love” while enjoying the ocean breeze is literally the best thing on earth. Without a doubt, music always makes an experience so much better and memorable. So make sure to include a portable speaker like JBL to set the mood for your beach vacation!
If you’re more of an athletic person, and prefer to move around instead of just laying on the beach. Then bringing a volleyball on your beach vacation can help you stay active while having fun. Also, you can always deflate the volleyball to save space in your luggage.
Kindle is awesome for book lovers who don’t want the hassle of carrying around 10 pounds worth of books while on vacation. Some people can absorb information through audiobooks, but some just truly need to have visual stimulation in order to concentrate and learn effectively. So if you’re more of a visual learner, then Kindle might be more suitable for you compared to audiobooks. Also, since it’s super light, you won’t have to worry about your luggage being overweight at the airport.
4. Water Guns
I mean, who doesn’t love water guns? They’re probably the best invention on earth. If you’re going to the beach vacation with a huge group of family and friends, you can even start a water fight and make a whole game out of it. Just don’t aim at the eyes when shooting at people. Safety is always number one!
5. Go Pro
Ever since the advent of Go Pros, it has become crazy popular among travelers around the world. It is insanely convenient for filming adventurous activities from a first-person angle. Which allows the viewers to truly see the world from your point of view! And what makes Go Pros even better is that you can film action shots hand-free. Just set it up either on your surfboard or any sturdy object, and you capture some amazing footage. And lastly, they’re waterproof. So if you want to make a Youtube video documenting your beach vacation, maybe consider investing in a Go Pro.
Essential Beach Vacation Tips
1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Hydration is the absolute key to staying healthy on a beach vacation. The last thing you want is a major headache from dehydration. So, make sure to keep your water bottle filled at all times. And if you’re super forgetful when it comes to staying hydrated, try using alarms on your phone to remind yourself to drink water every hour or so.
2. Reapply Sunscreen
Fun fact: any type of chemical or mineral sunscreen will naturally break down when it comes into contact with the sun. And also, it’s pretty difficult to not accidentally wipe off the sunscreen on your face throughout the course of the day. So reapplying sunscreen is an absolute must to make sure your skin stays hydrated and protected. We definitely don’t want peeling skin and a red nose as a souvenir from our beach vacation, amiright?
3. Keep An Eye On Your Group
ALWAYS KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR GROUP. We never know what can happen at the beach. Even if your group is full of adults that can take care of themselves, when it comes to water activities, no one can beat the relentless waves of the ocean. So matter how much fun you’re having at the moment, don’t forget to keep a constant eye on your party. Sometimes, it takes only a second of negligence to allow accidents to occur.
4. Keep An Eye On Your Stuff
Petty thefts can happen anywhere, but it’s especially prominent in popular tourist attractions like beaches. So please make sure to be aware of your surroundings at all times, and never leave your stuff unattended. I know sometimes we think to ourselves, “Oh I’ll leave this here real quick, it’s just for a few seconds”. But the funny thing is, that is exactly when most thefts occur. These pickpockets have plenty of experience taking advantage of people, so a few seconds definitely matters!
5. Be Mindful Of Safety Warnings
As peaceful and serene the beach can seem, it can change 180 degrees it a split of a second. The unpredictable nature of tides and waves can make beaches quite dangerous at times. So it’s crucial that we pay attention to safety warnings by lifeguards, and always make sure that you are not in the ocean alone.
Don’t Forget To Have Fun!
I hope this beach vacation packing list has been helpful to you! If you have any other suggestions in terms of relevant beach vacation essentials, don’t hesitate to share them with me in the comments below. And lastly, enjoy your upcoming vacation! Use this time to unwind and treat yourself because you deserve it.
For more travel inspiration, make sure to check out: