beach day packing list

The Ultimate Beach Day Packing List

My husband and I just got back from a long week at the beach with our daughter and some extended family. It was a fun adventure, filled with oversized hats, digging holes, building sand castles, chasing away seagulls and jumping the waves. My daughter absolutely loves going to the beach- if only she loved getting sun-screened up! (I really think putting sunscreen on a squirmy toddler should be an event in the Olympics!)

The beach is a favorite get-away for us.

It’s less than an hour drive and it has something for everyone. Emily loves literally everything. My husband loves letting the strong waves throw him around like a rag doll. I love the feeling of walking barefoot along the slightly damp sand. We’re lucky enough to be able to take day trips pretty frequently and yet each time we’d realize that we forgot something that would have made our trip a little better.  I ended up starting a little list, jotting it down each time we realized we were missing something. Now, whenever we head to the shore, I check the list and make sure we’re covered. Things run a whole lot smoother!

This most recent trip to the beach was a bit different, because we decided to rent a room for the week. We stayed in a tiny little motel where you literally had to shimmy between the wall and the bed to get into the bathroom, but it was so nice to be able to wash off and feel fresh instead of driving home feeling sandy. Plus, it made it feel more like an actual vacation. I’m happy to say that the only thing we forgot to take with us was a knife (to cut the cake I made for my niece who was celebrating her ninth birthday).

Anyway, I know what you’re thinking…

Get to the point Danielle! Tell me what I’m forgetting so that I can actually relax! 

Okay, okay, I hear you. Here’s my ultimate checklist:

ultimate beach packing list
(click for downloadable/printable version)

Now some of these items might seem crazy or completely unnecessary to you. That’s fine- like I said, it’s purely to make it even more relaxing!

Let me break it down:

Some of the items are the more obvious ones:

  • Beach blanket (we actually use a reusable waterproof cloth tablecloth that we got at Marshalls and it works soooo well!)
  • Beach umbrella
  • Towels
  • Beach chairs
  • Sunscreen
  • Coverup
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera (unless you have an awesome phone camera)
  • Cash (for the fudgie wudgie man!)
  • Cooler with Ice, water and other drinks
  • Easy snacks and meals
Some are a little less obvious:
  • Bug spray: I added this because if there has been a recent storm, the green head flies are insane and I am a beacon for them. I will literally have eighty bites just on my ankles and feet after one day (I’ve actually counted).
  • Aloe Vera Gel: Keep it in the cooler and if you get a little too much sun, put it on before the drive home. It can be a bit sticky at first, but the relief is worth it.
  • Chapstick: It doesn’t matter how well you hydrate- sitting in the sun getting hit with that salty air will dry out your lips.
  • Powder Pouch: I discovered this last year and it was a GAME CHANGER! It’s a little fabric pouch filled with talcum powder or baby powder. You just pat it against your skin and the sand falls right off. If you have kids, this is a MUST.
  • Hats: so much less hassle than sunscreen in the hair!
  • Ziploc bags: Great for collecting sea shells without the mess or for sealing up opened snacks. You can also use them to keep your phone dry and sand free.
  • Ibuprofen: I just never leave home without it.
  • Portable charger: I’m someone that loves to take photos and I usually use my phone because it’s convenient. I also use my phone for music, and then for the GPS on the way home. Having a little extra juice comes in handy.
  • Mini folding table: this one is a bit extra, but they sell little folding tables for camping that are the perfect height for putting between your beach chairs. This way, your drinks and snacks stay out of the sand. And they fold up so small that they barely take up any space in your beach cart!
  • Trash bags- We hang one off of the wagon and it makes clean up so much easier! We’re not struggling to carry everything up to the trashcans or putting it back into our bags and sorting through it at home. It also keeps all of the food-related trash hidden from unwanted seagull attention.
  • Beach cart or wagon- I really don’t know why it took us so long to get one of these. We struggled with loading up our shoulders and arms to carry everything and it was a hassle. I would have loved to get one of those awesome big carts with the balloon tires but they were outrageously priced. So we ended up getting this cart and it works pretty great. It was only about $50 and it saves us so much time and energy to get everything to our spot on the sand in one easy trip. We just load it  up and strap a bungie chord around to keep it in place. We also attached a bottle opener to the wooden frame of ours.

beach cart

  • Playing cards/book: Occasionally you need a break from the water and want to sit back and relax. These are great go-to’s depending on whether you want to do something alone or socially.
  • Change of clothes: Great if you’re heading to the boardwalk, but really this is for the drive home. Being in the car in a bathing suit after a long day is just not comfortable, especially if you ventured into the water. 
  • Socks and sneakers: This is really just for if you plan to walk the boardwalk. I’ve learned the hard way that flip flops are a literal pain after enough steps.
  • Flipflops/water shoes- This one is especially important for the little ones on really hot days. Sometimes the sand is just so hot that it will burn those little feet. We got this adorable little pair of water shoes for Emily on amazon for less than $10 and it makes such a difference!
  • Sweatshirt: Sometimes, even on the hottest days, you get a decent breeze from the water. As it gets later, we usually end up throwing a sweatshirt on so that we can stay on the beach longer despite getting a bit chilly.
  • Brush and extra hair tie: After a few trips into the water, this could come in handy.
  • Koozies or plastic cups: I prefer the koozies because they keep your drinks colder longer, but you gotta have one of the other if you plan to enjoy an adult drink on the beach.
  • Mini first aid kit- Have you ever accidently stepped on the jagged edge of a broken shell in the sand? I have. Mini first aid kit doesn’t take up much space but can really make a difference. Mine just has some Band-Aids, alcohol wipes, Neosporin, tweezers and bactine spray.
Now specifically for the little ones…
  • Diapers and wipes for obvious reasons. 
  • Sand toys to keep them busy- these aren’t just for kids though. I have just as much fun as Emily does when we build.
  • Extra Bathing Suit- god forbid there’s a blow out, but also if you take them out of a wet suit for a nap, having a dry suit to put them into after the nap is great. There’s just something about a trying to put a wet bathing suit onto a squirmy child that screams stressful!
  • Extra change of clothes- Again, in case there’s a blow out or a spill or messy food.
  • Stroller (with big wheels)- They make strollers specifically for the beach, but our regular one works great because it’s got huge thick wheels. When it’s naptime, I walk Emily up and down the slightly wet sand on the beach until she falls asleep. I get my steps in and the motion helps her fall asleep.
  • Pacifier (with strap)- If your little one sleeps with a bink, strap it to the stroller. That way she has it for her nap, and the strap prevents it from falling into the sand and getting gross.
  • Mini Blow Up Pool- This one seems so extravagant, doesn’t it? I remember before I had a kid, I thought people were insane for bringing a little pool. Like, that’s the point of the ocean! But this week, one of our friends brought one and they filled it up and all of the toddlers LOVED it. We had a solid hour where they splashed and played in the little pool and we were able to sit and relax rather than chasing them up and down the beach. This gave me a chance to read my book and have a snack without worrying about her getting into trouble. 
  • Sound Machine- We have a little portable one attached to our stroller and play the same sleep sounds that Emily listens to at home to encourage sleep. It especially helps drown out the other people around us which might stimulate her. 
  • Waterproof bag- If you’re bringing home wet bathing suits or reusable swimmy diapers, waterproof bag makes this so much more convenient. 
  • Pop up tent: We have a little tunnel and tent set in the playroom so I actually just popped one of the little tents off of that, took a few stakes and put it with our set up. Emily likes to sit inside of it to get a break from the sun and eat her snacks. It’s a great little way for babes to cool off and eat without the seagulls’ prying eyes! Plus, since it’s a pop up, it weights virtually nothing and barely takes up any space.
There you have it!

My list and reasoning behind it. I hope it helps make your trip relaxing and rejuvenating, the way a vacation should be!

If you post your beach setup on social media, I’d love to see it! Tag me @emilyeverafterco

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