Your Essential Packing List for a Perfect Beach Day

Summer vacations are a fantastic way to relax and embark on an adventure, and there’s nowhere better than the beach! Make your trip a success by planning ahead and bringing all the essentials. 

Aside from your regular staples like swimsuits and towels, what else should you pack for a great day at the beach? Here’s everything you need for any group to enjoy their fun in the sun.

Lightweight Blankets and Chairs

Sitting on your towel at the beach is fine when you’re a kid, but as an adult, you’ll be glad you have something slightly more comfortable and sophisticated. Depending on the size of your group, packing lounge chairs for everyone might not be feasible. The next best things are camp chairs. Look for those with wide, flat feet at the base, so they don’t sink into the sand as easily. If you’d like to forego the chairs entirely, invest in a lightweight beach blanket. Many companies make these specifically to repel sand and fold up in a compact carrying case.

Hats and Sunglasses

Sitting out at the beach all day can easily lead to dehydration and overheating, so make sure to protect against the heat with a good hat and sunglasses. Wide-brimmed sun hats are an excellent option since they cover any exposed skin on your shoulders and chest. If you’re planning to spend lots of time in the water, consider a hat with a strap that’s designed to dry quickly; that way, it won’t get swept out to sea!

Portable Speakers

Enjoy some background music while you relax on the sand! Portable Bluetooth speakers are inexpensive and allow you to play music for your crowd while everyone eats lunch or takes a break from the waves. You can upgrade to one with water-resistant features, but most umbrellas or chairs have a pocket where the speaker can be safely stored away from water.

Utility Wagon

There’s nothing worse than trying to carry all of these supplies from your car or beach house down to the water. Investing in a utility wagon will make your beach vacation wildly successful because you won’t have to skimp on any essentials (or luxuries!). Make sure to purchase a wagon with wide wheels to traverse the sand more easily. In addition, check the loaded weight limit to compare with your planned packing list.

Photo: Delmaine Donson via

Jumbo Umbrella

Having an umbrella is essential for even a short day at the beach. Choose one that’s marketed for beach days or sporting events. These usually have more adjustable heights and angles to create more of a tent-like space rather than an entirely vertical umbrella. Pro tip: If there’s a pocket on the umbrella, fill it with sand to help add weight—it won’t blow over during those surprise wind gusts!

Skincare Essentials

Heading to the beach with proper skincare essentials is the key to a successful vacation. The air, sun, water, and sand will all take a toll on your skin throughout the day, so be prepared! Sunscreen is a must, and choose one with full-spectrum UV protection and at least SPF 30. Aloe vera or burn relief gel is also great to have in your bag. If anyone suspects they got a burn, applying the cream early will help minimize damage and alleviate symptoms quickly. The last skincare essential—baby powder—is the single best way to get stuck sand off of skin! Just sprinkle the powder over the sand, then brush away! That way, you won’t get messy sand inside your clothes or car.

Toys and Games

Depending on your group, the toys and games you take will vary. With kids, make sure to pack plenty of buckets and shovels so they can make sandcastles, collect water, and dig for shells. If you’re in an appropriate area, snorkel gear for the adults is a fun addition to your bag. Plan for games like frisbee and volleyball if you’re headed to a beach where these activities are allowed. For those who want a calm, quiet day at the beach, pack a book or two to enjoy as you watch the waves.

Insulated Cooler

Staying hydrated is essential for a day at the beach, and drinking cold water is so refreshing after a swim! Bring a small, insulated cooler for water, other drinks, and snacks. Many are small enough that you can carry them with a shoulder strap. If you’re traveling with a crowd, choose a cooler that fits inside your wagon so that you don’t have to make a separate trip for hauling the food. Pack high-protein snacks like cheese and nuts to re-energize during the day.

Having these essentials in your bag will make any beach vacation a success!

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