If you’ve been fantasizing about long walks on the shore, beautiful sunsets, and sunkissed skin, it sounds like you need a beach day—stat. While you can always whisk yourself away on a beach vacation at the drop of a hat, careful planning can turn your beach excursion into a dreamy day in paradise.
Packing all of those beach essentials may be a bit more involved than meets the eye. That’s why preparing a comprehensive packing list before you set off for the sandy shore will set you up for success—and maybe even save you a last-minute trip to the nearby convenience store.
Let’s break down a few favorite must haves for the beach and discuss how you can pack them like a pro. Whether you are loading up your High-brid Backpack or Toke Tote for your day spent on the sand, these tips will help make your summer beach day as relaxing as you deserve it to be.
What Are The Essentials?
It’s easy to go a little overboard when planning a fun summer vacation or day trip to the beach. When preparing for the day ahead, it’s wise to keep those overpacking tendencies in check by separating items into two categories: the must-haves and the maybes.
As far as beach necessities go, most of your essential items will fall under one of these categories:
- Beach attire
- Sun protection
- Spot reservation
Any item that doesn’t fall under these categories is better saved for later and should only be added if there are a few square inches of space left in your travel bags.
Unsure of what qualifies under these categories? Let’s break them down.
Spending time at the beach means swimming, lounging, and playing. That’s quite a bit of ground to cover. Get prepped with the following beach bag essentials:
- Bathing suit – Take a decadent dip in the sea, slap on some tanning lotion, and soak up the sun—all while sporting your favorite swimwear.
- Slip-on shoes – Whether it’s a pair of sandals, boat shoes, or Crocs, slip-on shoes are certainly a beach bag essential. Leave your dress shoes, shoestrings, and velcro at home to avoid endless mounds of sand. Slip-on shoes allow you to kick them on and off with ease and aren’t nearly as difficult to de-sand.
- Cover-ups – Rather than sitting in wet clothes and getting a chill after splashing around in the ocean, consider throwing on a cute cover-up or T-shirt. It’ll keep you dry, warm you up, and act as an extra layer of protection against those pesky UV rays.
- Athletic shorts – Itching to play some Spikeball, but are worried about your bathing suit riding up? A pair of athletic shorts can give you peace of mind so you can dominate your beach day tournament.
A beach trip can go from sweet to sore pretty quickly if you get a little too much sun. Your skin needs UV protection from overexposure to the sun, which can help avoid things like sunburns, wrinkles, and even sunspots.
Keep your skin happy and healthy with these measures:
- Sunscreen – The most important piece of UV protection comes from sunscreen, and make sure to use an SPF of at least 30. The higher the SPF, the more protection you should receive.1 But don’t forget to reapply often—especially in those less obvious places such as your back, sides, behind your knees, and even slightly below your swimsuit straps.
- Sunglasses– When directly exposed to sunlight, your eyes can be prone to damage over time. Sunglasses can help keep that threat at bay and even reduce the risk of cataracts.2 They also make eye-focused activities like reading, sailing, or birdwatching much more manageable. Not to mention, they’re a fashionable accessory to complete your beach day look.
- Shade – Sun is the beach’s best friend. However, it can be a bit overbearing at times. That’s where a practically placed beach umbrella or beach tent can make a world of difference.
- Hat – It’s not just a cute beachy accessory. A chic straw hat or cap can provide your face with extra protection from the harsh UV rays. Just make sure to pack some hairpins if you’re worried about it getting whisked away by the wind.
A beach day can be many things—it’s time to reflect and unwind with a cool drink and a good book. This might be a chance to stretch your competitive muscles with beach games, barbeques, or dance parties. Or maybe, it’s time to check off one of your many summer bucket list ideas, such as snorkeling, surfing, or building a highly impressive sandcastle.
Whatever you want your beach day to look like, packing wisely can help ensure a good time. Here are a few recreational items to help you unwind at the beach:
- Reading material (book, Kindle, magazine)
- Card game
- Beach games
- Bluetooth speaker
- Portable charger
Again, do your best only to bring along beach must haves that you know you’ll use. Cut down on space-hogging items and maximize your good times.
By reservation, we mean reserving your spot on the beach. There are so many places to go in the summer with great beaches. So, if you find a fantastic beach spot, you’ll want to mark your territory. That’s why you should bring along:
- Beach towel
- Beach chair
- Beach umbrella
Once you’ve set up camp, you can let the beach games begin.
How To Pack The Essentials
By now, you should have a pretty cohesive list of items you’re planning to bring along with you on this beach trip. Before your beach day can start, however, you’re going to have to pack your bags and load up the car.
If you’re fretting about fitting all of your fun and games into the trunk of your car, worry not.
Let’s unpack what goes into packing. We’ll break down how to pack and transport your items to the beach safely and effectively.
How To Pack Beach Attire and Accessories
Luckily, you can wear a lot of your attire to the beach itself. Throw on your swimsuit underneath cover-ups, shorts, or tank tops, and strip off layers as the temperature rises.
Here are a few more beach attire packing hacks to make your life easier:
- Beach towels – While traditionally folded into a square, the most space-effective way to pack your beach towel is by rolling it up. Doing so will allow you to add multiple towels to your bag with flexibility and ease.
- Swimsuits and cover-ups – Get ready for your mind to be blown: The most space-effective way to pack clothing and maximize space in your Terry Towel Tote or Phat Sack is to wrap it up inside a rolled-up towel. Eliminate any extra bulkiness by killing two birds with one stone.
- Hats – If you don’t want to wear your hat to the beach, you can choose to pack it instead. Avoid storing your hat on the bottom of your bag to keep it from getting crushed. We recommend opting for softer hats such as straw, felt, or floppy. You can also use the hat’s crown to store additional loose items, such as chargers, keys, or other small knick-knacks.
How To Pack Sunscreen and Lotion
To keep sandy, sticky messes at bay, you should store sunscreen, tanning lotion, or other liquid-based products, including lip balm, inside a plastic bag within your cosmetic case or Dopp Kit. It’s wise to include sunscreen in a pressurized can in the plastic bag as well. Ensure that the sunscreen can is “locked” at the top to prevent accidental spraying.
Separating creams and liquids is a small but necessary precaution to protect your valuable items from accidental sunscreen spillage.
How To Pack For Recreation
Properly stored recreational activities can keep your beach day laid back and fun. Boost your beach day experience by packing smart for the space you have:
- Cooler – Pack your cooler the right way by cooling everything before packing to ensure your perishables stay colder longer. If you’re looking for another packing hack, try freezing your water bottle, then storing it in the cooler. You’ll provide extra cold for your food and have an ice-cold beverage once it melts. In general, handheld, portable coolers like our Terry Backpack Cooler or Cooler Tote work best for the beach. Wheels may come in handy in the parking lot but could get stuck once you hit the sandy shore.
- Electronic devices – While some people prefer to use the beach to unplug, you may want to pump up your jam with a wireless speaker or snap an enviable Instagram pic. If that’s the case, you should store your electronic devices (speaker, phone, charger, etc.) in a plastic bag. That way, you’ll protect your valuables from potentially costly water damage.
How To Pack Bulky Equipment
If you’re looking to set up camp, you may need to bring more than one bag to the beach. Luckily, you won’t have to leave your bulkier items at home if you pack wisely:
- Beach chairs – Some beach chairs come with built-in straps. Strap it to your back and start your trek to the beach.
- Umbrella – If you’re interested in bringing an umbrella to the beach, investing in an umbrella bag may be wise. They’ll typically come with a sling that you can wear around your shoulder—no need to take multiple trips back to the car.
A Note On Separate Bags
There’s no shame in bringing more than one bag to the beach. Especially if you’re planning on entertaining multiple people, you can always separate your bulky items from your smaller items by separating them amidst other bags.
As mentioned earlier, two beach-friendly bags we love are The Cooler Tote and The Terry Backpack Cooler. Ideal for a picnic by the bay, these savvy selections feature a water-resistant compartment on the bottom—perfect for keeping your favorite beverages cool—and a pouch on top for all your accessories.
Make sure all of your beach day essentials make it to the tides. Pack your beach party your way.
Bring BÉIS To The Beach
Travel in style, wherever the beaches take you.
- “Sun Damage: Protecting Yourself.” Cleveland Clinic, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/5240-sun-damage-protecting-yourself
- Heid, Markham. “Does Wearing Sunglasses Actually Protect Your Eyes?” Time, Time, 26 Aug. 2019, https://time.com/5660350/sunglasses-eye-protection