Family Beach Vacation Packing List

Packing for a family beach trip can feel like prepping for a six month journey at sea.

OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. However, packing for a fun, relaxing family beach vacation sure can bring on a lot of stress and chaos. Did you pack underwear? Sunscreen? Swimsuits? Beach gear? After all that, is there still room in the car for you and the kids?

When figuring out what to pack for the beach, there are two tips to keep in mind. First, forgetting an item isn’t the end of the world. Unless you’re heading for a remote, deserted island, chances are you can find a store where you can pick up the extras. Second, don’t stress out over making a packing list when there’s a stress-free list ready and waiting for you below:

family beach vacation packing list infographic


We expect you’ll remember your shorts, T-shirts, swimsuits and plenty of clean underwear. Those are usually standard “what to pack for a family vacation” items. Heck, they’re “what to pack for any vacation” items.

So if we’re so confident you know what you’re doing on the clothing front, why even have this section? Five words: sunglasses, hats and flip flops.

Sure, you can pick these little items up at any dollar store, but why pay for replacements when you already have them at home?

Sunglasses and hats offer much-needed sun protection and flip flops are perfect for navigating hot, sandy beaches. Go pack them now so you’re not kicking yourself later.


If you – like many savvy travelers – love sample sizes, you might have all your basic toiletries in your bag and ready to go. Shampoo? Check. Body wash? Check. Deodorant? Check.

What about those little items that make beach visits so much more enjoyable? For a little extra comfort on your trip, make sure you pack:

  • Lip balm – your lips need SPF protection too
  • Bug spray – is there a worse combination than coarse sand and itchy bug bites?
  • Hand sanitizer or wipes – even if you’re not changing diapers, a quick-clean option works wonders in a multitude of situations




Jumping waves and bodysurfing are always a blast, but even the most fit and active among us need a breather. Brainstorming a few other activities to pack for a beach vacation will come in handy for when you need a break from the waves.

Beach toys and goggles are a must for kids. Building sandcastles and viewing the underwater wonders are perennial favorites.

A beach vacation is a great time to make a dent in your reading list. Bring a few books or magazines, or load up your e-reader for a literary escape.

Safety First

Accidents can happen to anyone, which is why no beach packing list would be complete without a few safety essentials.

Take a first-aid kit with you. Hopefully you’ll only have to worry about a few minor scrapes from seashells, but having your own kit handy is a good precaution.

When it comes to kids and beach safety, there is no substitute for supervision. That said, every parent knows how fast a willful toddler can pull away and start running. That’s why it’s crucial to equip young children with life jackets and/or flotation devices. These shouldn’t replace adult supervision, but they can make a world of difference.

Beach Bag

Your beach bag will likely contain a few of the items mentioned above, like a first-aid kit, bug spray and lip balm. For a well-rounded bag, consider tossing in the following:

  • Sunscreen: with both UVA and UVB protection
  • Camera: keep your phone safe and dry and take a disposable when heading near the water
  • Baby powder: nothing beats it for removing sand
  • Ziploc bags: great for collecting shells or keeping your phone and wallet dry
  • Battery-operated fan: it’s the little things that make you more comfortable

Beach Gear

If you’re renting a beach property, check to see if it is stocked with items like beach chairs or umbrellas. The fewer bulky items you have to pack, the better.

No matter who’s supplying the gear, look to have the following items on hand:

  • Beach bag
  • Beach chairs
  • Beach towels and blankets
  • Beach umbrellas or sun tent
  • Beach cart or stroller
  • A cooler with water and snacks

Remember: Don’t wait until you’re parched to drink. When you’re out in the heat and sun, it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking regularly. As for food, who says you have to bring deli meat and chips? Branch out and prep something tasty and unexpected to take on the beach.

Of course, any list is just a starting point for what to pack for a beach vacation. Feel free to customize: Add and subtract to make sure your vacation is the best it can be.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

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