Beach Vacation Packing List

Planning a summer road trip where you’ll hit a lot of beaches along a coast? You’ll need a beach vacation packing list to make sure you don’t forget anything.

You’ve got lots of options as far as what coast and where on it you will travel, but your beach vacation packing will need to change depending on the temperature where you’re going. A coastal trip up to Maine is very different from a trip along the coast of Southern California.

Ready to hit the road and enjoy some fun in the sun?

Beach Vacation Packing List: General Stuff/Any Climate

  • Maps and printed out directions for your route. Get a GPS system if you can – it can be a great help if you get lost or just want to find something, like a pizza place.
  • Printed out hotel confirmations/reservation information for anything you’ve booked for your trip.
  • Both a first-aid kit and a roadside emergency kit including a flashlight with fresh batteries. Get AAA if you don’t have it- not only is it great for roadside assistance and other issues with your vehicle, most hotels offer discounts to AAA members.
  • Every kind of charger you need for your cell phones, digital cameras, etc. Load up anything that requires batteries with fresh ones so you don’t have to waste time on your trip stopping to buy them.
  • Clothes for every day of your trip, sleepwear, underwear and socks. Pack no more than three pairs of shoes (pick ones that will go with almost everything) and make sure one pair is a good pair of walking shoes.
  • All toiletries and other grooming materials. Put things that might leak in plastic sealable bags. Don’t forget any prescriptions you might need.
  • Swiss Army knife or all the tools it includes – a small knife, corkscrew, bottle opener, and scissors.
  • Rain ponchos for those occasional rainy days.
  • Two coolers, one large one for your trip (filled with snacks, meals and beverages), and one smaller one to tote to the beach.
  • Big blanket for when you’re cold or to use as a picnic blanket/beach blanket. Pillows if anyone in your group likes to nap.
  • A pair of sunglasses for everyone in the group.
  • For those who need glasses and contacts, pack them along with all the necessary drops and cleaning fluids.

Beach Vacation Packing List: Hot Climate

  • Bathing suits – at least two. Bring just one and it will always be cold and damp when you put it on. Plus, you’ll need to wash it regularly, making it even slower to dry.
  • Woolite/gentle soap for washing bathing suits.
  • Beach towels – two for each person. Why? Just like bathing suits, towels don’t always dry as fast as we’d like them to, so having an extra is essential.
  • Sunscreen, aloe gel, and other sunburn remedies. Bring some, but don’t stress about having all that you need – all of these items are readily available in any drugstore.
  • Hats are a good idea – you’d be amazed at how burned your scalp can get, even with a full head of hair.
  • Sandals and flip-flops for the beach.
  • Beach cover-ups/outfits for each day and a fresh outfit for every evening. If you want to minimize clothes, just pack a fresh t-shirt/top for the evening.
  • Sweatshirts, sweaters, and light jackets for cooler nights.
  • One or more sun umbrellas unless you know that every beach you’ll be visiting offers rentals. No matter how much sunscreen you slather on, it’s rarely enough for a whole day in the sun and playing in the waves, so sitting in the shade of your umbrella can make all the difference.
  • Large beach bag with lip balm with sunscreen, sunscreen of all SPF’s, napkins, and cash for concession stands. Put some hair elastics in the bag for anyone with long hair so that they can pull it back when it’s hot or windy (or both).
  • Lots of reading – books, magazines, and newspapers. This is a trip where you really get a chance to read (assuming you’re into reading).
  • MP3 players with headphones/Earbuds.
  • Disposable cameras. Never bring your digital camera (or laptop) to the beach because the salt air will gum all the parts up and destroy it.
  • Inflatable toys/mattresses and boogie boards for playing in the waves. Other beach games are also great to bring along.

Beach Vacation Packing List: Cool/Cold Climate

  • Unless you enjoy swimming in freezing cold water, you’ll only need one bathing suit. If you love a brisk swim among the icebergs, you’ll need two and you’ll also need to bring a bottle of Woolite/gentle soap for washing your suits.
  • For the occasional invigorating dip in the ocean, pack one large towel for each person.
  • Pack a lot of layers when selecting your outfits. T-shirts, light pullover/fleeces, heavy sweaters, jackets, shorts, jeans and other long pants are all items you can bring and then layer depending on the weather. The temperature can change frequently during the day so plan accordingly.
  • Pack lots of socks – from thinner cotton ones to thicker warm ones.
  • Sunscreen – make sure to wear this even if you’re not spending all day on the beach. As you’ll probably spend more time engaged in other activities, it’s unlikely you’ll spend enough time in the sun as to end up with sunburn, so you can probably skip packing the sunburn remedies.
  • Sneakers and socks will probably be used more than flip flops, which most people will find too cold.
  • If you’re planning to hike some of the northern parks, pack hiking boots, thick socks, and a compass. Make sure to bring your cell phone in case you get lost. Grabbing a trail map (and sticking to marked trails) is the best way to avoid getting lost in the first place.
  • It’s a good idea to figure out one activity for every day above and beyond the beaches, which will only take a small amount of time to visit as it will be fairly cold. Whether you’re exploring local sights or participating in outdoor activities and sports, you’ll be sure to have a really fun vacation.

Now you’ve got everything you need for a wonderful summer road trip!

Copyright 2009 Tara Waechter