The Ultimate Beach Vacation Checklist

beach vacation gear With summer just around the corner, it’s time to get your beach game on. However, when it comes to taking to the beach, having a checklist can make a huge difference. After all, nothing is worse than getting to the beach and finding out that you forgot your sand shovel, or your sunscreen, or, in a worst-case scenario, your bathing suit. We’ve put together the ultimate beach vacation checklist to help you easily keep track of everything you need to bring to enjoy your day in the sun. While this list is fairly comprehensive, you can always narrow it down for a quick day at the beach, versus a weekend trip to the shore. But before we get to the easy-to-use, printer-friendly PDF version of our incredible checklist, let’s take a look at some of the things that you should bring with you when planning for a fun day in the sun.

Making Your Beach Essentials Packing List

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When trying to figure out what to pack when going to the beach, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, you want to make sure you have sun protection as the ultimate thing you need to enjoy a day at the beach. Even a day with a forgotten bathing suit can be enjoyable, whether you find yourself building a sandcastle or just exploring the shoreline. But if you forget to bring sun protection, you’re in for a world of hurt. Not only should you have plenty of sunscreens, but you should bring protective equipment like a beach umbrella and beach hats.

While all of this is covered by our list, you may find yourself needing some items that aren’t on the list. If you find yourself traveling to the beach with small children, you want to make sure you have all of the equipment you need to keep them happy and healthy while they play in the sun. Similarly, if you feel like bringing your fur babies to the beach, you’re going to want to make sure that you first check to see if pets are allowed on the sand, and then make sure you have everything you need to help them enjoy their day out, including easy access to water.

While you might not need to worry about bugs if you’re making your way to the Jersey Shore, you will need to invest in some bug spray if you find yourself add a local lake or river. You also want to look for things like water shoes, and maybe even invest in a small packet of salt, if you’re in an area that has leeches.

But enough about the not-fun parts of going to the beach; you want to make sure that you’re planning for the most fun vacation you can have. This includes making sure that you have everything you need for a long drive, including things to take a nap in the car on the way home. You also want to make sure that those who don’t feel like going in the water have plenty of entertainment options, including any reading material or media players they might need. And just because you’re taking a vacation doesn’t mean you have to leave your electronics behind, which is why you should make sure to bring all of the chargers and extra batteries you may need along the way, especially if you find yourself staying in a hotel room.

Now that you have a general idea of what you should bring with you, let’s break down each category so you can enjoy your day at the beach.

Beach Gear

Anyone who has spent any length of time on the beach has a picture in their mind of relaxing in beach chairs under a beach umbrella. So of course, it’s a good idea to make sure you have both of these essential items with you when you take to the beach. There are some other items that you can get to help set up your beach base, including sun protection tents for those who like to take a nap. If you’re going to be in an area that has a lot of bugs, you can always invest in a sun protection tent that also has a screen, as well as bug repellent candles to help clear the air between swimming adventures. You also want to make sure you have a cooler with you to keep drinks or any snacks you may need, as one of the main things to avoid while on the beach is dehydration.

Along with everything you need to set up the perfect beach base, you want to make sure that you have all of the beach toys you could ever want. This includes all of the tools you need to make the ultimate sandcastle, as well as any soccer balls or frisbees you may need to start up a game. You also want to make sure you have things like beach towels, beach blankets, and anything else you may need to make your beach home away from home all the more comfortable.

☐ Beach blanket
☐ Beach chairs
☐ Beach safe
☐ Beach sport games
☐ Beach towel
☐ Beach toys
☐ Beach umbrella
☐ Cooler
☐ Inflatable floats
☐ Portable speaker
☐ Snorkel gear
☐ Waterproof phone case

Clothes & Accessories

First things first: you need to remember to pack your bathing suit. Even if you don’t see yourself getting into the water, many bathing suits have a form of sun protection in them and are good at wicking away moisture, meaning they dry faster if you find yourself sweating on the beach. You also want to make sure you have any beach cover-ups you may want, including oversized T-shirts and shorts, should you find yourself traveling to the store. You also want to make sure that you have sunglasses, sun hats, and any rash guards or wet suits you may need on the beach. Water shoes also fall under this category but aren’t necessary for spaces like sandy beaches along the coast, where you may not be as concerned about what you’re stepping on under the water. If you’re traveling with children, you want to make sure you have at least two changes of clothes, as well as more comfortable outfits for them to change into later. You also want to make sure you have a sweater or other warmer gear just in case the temperature drops at night while you’re sitting around a campfire or heading back to your hotel.

If you are going to be staying at a hotel or the location for several days, you want to make sure you have all of the clothes that you need with you, including shorts, skirts, shirts, and plenty of undergarments. This category also includes things like goggles or snorkeling gear, as they are clothing accessories that can make or break your beach trip. Keep in mind that there is nothing worse than finding sand in clothes that you didn’t want to get sandy, so you may want to pack all of your clothing in a separate bag that you either leave in the car or keep away from the majority of your beach stuff.

☐ Athletic shoes
☐ Beach bag
☐ Cover-ups
☐ Dresses
☐ Hats
☐ Jeans
☐ Leisure shoes
☐ Light sweaters
☐ Pants
☐ Sandals
☐ Shirts
☐ Shorts and/or skirts
☐ Sleepwear
☐ Small purse
☐ Socks
☐ Sunglasses
☐ T-shirts
☐ Underwear
☐ Water shoes
☐ Workout gear
☐ Swimsuits


Once again, if you’re only going to be at the beach for a day trip, you may not need everything in this section, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared. If you’re planning on showering after your trip to the beach, you want to make sure that you have all of the necessary toiletries available to you. If you’re worried about sand sticking to you, you can always use baby powder to help dry out your skin, which in turn makes the sand fall right off. If you’re going to be staying at a hotel, you want to make sure that you have all the comforts at home conveniently packed away in your suitcase, including a toothbrush, toothpaste, and any styling tools you may need to do your hair. You also want to make sure that you have any menstrual products that anyone in your party may need, and all the medications necessary for your trip.

It is always a good idea to make sure that you have extra of any medication you take daily, as well as pain relievers, as you never know if your trip will get unexpectedly extended for another day. On top of what you would usually expect for toiletries, you want to make sure you have everything to keep any small children or pets comfortable for a long stay, including extra changes of clothes, diapers, and baby wipes. If you intend to touch up your makeup during your trip to the shore, make sure that you bring these items with you, as well as anything you need to remove your makeup at the end of a long day.

☐ After sun cream
☐ Contact lenses and solution
☐ Dental floss
☐ Deodorant
☐ Disposable wipes
☐ Facial cleanser
☐ First-aid essentials
☐ Hairbrush
☐ Hand sanitizer
☐ Insect repellent
☐ Makeup
☐ Makeup remover
☐ Medications and vitamins
☐ Menstrual products
☐ Moisturizer
☐ Shampoo and conditioner
☐ Soap
☐ SPF lip balm
☐ Sunscreen
☐ Toothbrush and toothpaste
☐ Toiletries

Travel Essentials

With the ever-changing travel requirements to different areas of the world, you want to make sure to look into the area you’re going to figure out any regulations and requirements. For the most part, going to the beach is a fairly simple affair, but you want to make sure that you have all of the travel essentials you need just in case your trip gets unexpectedly sidetracked. This includes things like personal IDs, medical IDs, vaccination information, and anything else that you think may be important to have with you on a longer trip. You also want to make sure that you have some way of finding your way around, whether that be a GPS on your phone or the old-fashioned reliability of a paper map.

You also want to make sure that you bring any medical insurance with you, as well as any emergency contact information you have. Keep in mind, it’s always a good idea to bring a list of your medications, as well as any medical bracelets you may have so that you are prepared in case of an emergency. If you think that you would be lost without an item, it belongs in the travel essentials category, and it may serve you well to check this category more than once before heading out the door.

☐ Adapter
☐ Books
☐ Camera
☐ Copy of vaccine card
☐ Credit/ATM cards/Cash
☐ Electronic chargers
☐ Emergency contacts
☐ Face masks
☐ Headphones
☐ Insurance cards
☐ Itinerary
☐ Laptop
☐ List of medications
☐ Maps/directions
☐ Passport/Visa/ID
☐ Portable charger
☐ Reusable baggies
☐ Sleep travel set
☐ Smart phone
☐ Snacks
☐ Suitcase locks
☐ Tissues
☐ Water bottles

One Last Thing Before Hitting the Surf

Now that you have a general idea of what you should bring with you to the beach, check out our easy-to-use PDF checklist to ensure that you have everything with you both when you arrive at the beach and when you’re ready to head home for the evening.