Planning a beach trip? Make sure you have everything you need with this beach packing list. I’ve brought together all of the essential things to pack for the beach, so you won’t miss a thing, just relax and enjoy! If you just looking for a printable beach checklist, scroll to the bottom for a printable list which includes all of your beach essentials and extra items you’ll need for 2020.
Beach Packing List for a Day Trip
Let’s kick off this packing list with all of the things to pack for the beach if you’re just going for a day trip. Scroll down below if you want my full summer vacation packing list.
Beach Essentials for 2020
Oh yes, you can’t talk about doing anything at the moment without mentioning face masks. In order to protect yourself and others, these new additions to my beach packing list are essential to keek safe these days. Remember to wear a mask when it is required, wash your hands and maintain social distancing.
To avoid unnecessary waste, I recommend using reusable cotton masks or face coverings. There are lots of funky designs on Etsy to choose from, or you can make your own.
Another beach essential, even without the pandemic! I have a large bottle of hand sanitizer which I dispense into smaller pocket-sized bottles to take with me out and about. Always sanitize your hands before touching your face, having food and after going to the toilet.
Wipes are handy for wiping off things like sun loungers or anything that other people may have touched. If you have kids then I’m sure you know how useful they are to keep little ones clean too!
Sun Protection to Pack for the Beach
We all need to protect ourselves from the sun’s harmful rays. Sunscreen is absolutely essential, and preferably one with a high factor SPF. Ideally, you should apply sun protection 30 minutes before going into the sun, to give it time to sink into your skin. Reapply regularly throughout the day, and ask someone to help you reach the tricky parts like your back!
Don’t forget the little places like your scalp on hair partings, your ears and feet – they are all places I’ve accidentally forgotten to protect before and you don’t want to make that mistake!
Your lips will dry out quickly with the sun and salty water, so a chapstick with a built-in SPF protection will help keep your lips kissable and soft.
Not only do sunglasses look cool, a good pair will protect your eyes from UVA and UVB rays. If you’re going in the sea with them, a strap to keep them on your face can come in handy!
A sunhat is important to protect your head and face, especially if you plan to be in the sun for any length of time. Peaked caps are useful, but a full brim will protect your neck as well.
Of course, you don’t want to forget your swimsuit! Break out your cute bikini and sexy swimming shorts, you deserve it!
If you are planning to spend a lot of time in the water, sunscreen will wash off so a rash guard t-shirt will protect your skin from burning. Even an old t-shirt will do the job if you don’t want to splash out on some new gear, but there are some super cute shirts you can get!
If space allows, I like to bring 2 towels to the beach – one to lie on and one to dry myself off with! Microfibre travel towels take up less space than normal bathroom towels and are easier to shake the sand off.
To give your skin a break from the heat of the sun, or to cover up to go into a shop, having a sarong or cover up is a must. For the gents, a t-shirt or funky colourful shirt is the perfect beach accessory. For ladies, I usually have a sarong and a tank top to put on, although there are some beautiful dresses around to choose from too.
Beach shoes or sandals are very useful if you are visiting a stony beach, and they will also protect the soles of your feet from burning on the hot sand. I hadn’t realised that sand can burn your feet, but after experiencing a painful beach visit in Belize I learned the error of my ways!
Jelly shoes or water shoes can also be worn in the sea so you don’t have to worry about stepping on anything sharp under the water.
There is nothing worse than sitting around all day in a wet swimsuit, so some dry underwear is essential. I usually wear my bikini to the beach, then before heading home I change into some dry underwear which makes my journey back so much more pleasant! That does take some stealthy towel action to avoid flashing everyone, but it is definitely worth it!
Wrap your wet swimsuit in your towel or put it in waterproof bag to stop it soaking everything else in your bag.
Mobile Phone & Earphones
I don’t expect anyone to go anywhere without their mobile phones these days, but I also love to listen to music or a podcast while I’m chilling on the beach, so don’t forget your headphones! I have a neat pair of Taotronics Bluetooth earbuds which come in their own charging carry case.
Money and Keys
Again, I assume these are a given, but aim to leave your wallet and most of your credit cards at home or at the hotel. Some cash to cover car park charges, ice creams and food for the day is useful to have, but only bring what you need.
Book or Kindle
Who doesn’t want to relax with a good book on the beach? A paperback can take some splashes without too much trouble, but the newer Kindles are now waterproof so you can it back and relax without worrying about it getting damaged.
Puzzle books or writing a journal are slightly more active ways to keep you busy if you need it. Alternatively, you could bring a pack of cards or a game to play if you are a couple or family.
Keep all of your electronic gear like phones and kindles in a waterproof bag when you’re not using them, to avoid any accidental splashing.
To keep your valuables safe while you are in the water there are several options to help prevent thieves from taking your stuff.
I have a waterproof pouch I take with me into the water, so I don’t have to worry about anything while I’m taking a swim.
If you prefer to not have anything in the water, then a portable safe which you can attach to a parasol and bury in the sand is a good idea. Alternatively, secret stash items like a fake water bottle or can of coke could also foil thieves.
Snorkel & Mask
You don’t have to be in the Caribbean to enjoy seeing what’s underwater. A snorkel and mask gives you the chance to see what the marine world is like – a totally different world! I snorkelled for the first time in the Galapagos Islands and was blown away. Of course, not every beach will have sea turtles, but there are all sorts of plants and animals you can spot.
Getting photos of your underwater adventures is a great way to remember your beach vacation. I have a Go-Pro which takes video and photographs underwater and is really useful for taking photos while snorkelling or just playing around.
There are lots of accessories you can get to go with the camera too, including a floating handle which I highly recommend so you don’t lose it in the depths! I also love the idea of taking photos half underwater and half over water, which can be done using a dome. Just make sure whatever accessories you buy are compatible with your specific camera.
You’ll need something to pack all of your beach essentials in! A cotton tote might do the job if you pack light, but I often take a daypack and a tote bag with me. If you’re taking the whole family then a bigger tote bag is a must. And probably several of them!
As you set off to leave the beach, make sure you have taken all of your rubbish with you. If there aren’t any rubbish bins around you may need a bag to take it home and dispose of it when you get back.
Tissues or Handkerchief
I never go anywhere without a pack of tissues, you never know when you might be caught short and need to blow your nose. Tissues also double up as toilet paper if the bathroom has run out!
I always to forget to bring a brush with me, so my hair always looks a complete mess after a day at the beach! If I’m going straight home to shower it doesn’t really matter, but if you’re heading out for dinner after a day at the beach, a hairbrush and some leave-in conditioner works wonders.
Again, if you’re heading straight home then no big deal, but if you need to freshen up, then throw a deodorant and a perfume travel tester in your bag.
Beach Food and Drink Essentials
Reusable Water Bottle
Every beachgoer needs to stay hydrated. The hot weather, salty sea and sweat all mean that we need to drink more water. I always bring my reusable Water to Go bottle with me everywhere, and an extra collapsible bottle too which folds up when it’s empty.
To keep your water cooler for longer, try freezing the bottle or fill it with ice cubes to it before you leave home.
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As a solo traveller, I just stick with a towel to lie on, but for couples and families, you may prefer to bring a picnic blanket so you can spread out a bit.
Snacks or a Picnic Lunch
Depending how long you plan to be at the beach, you’ll want some food. Avoid items like chocolate which will melt and try self-packaged snacks like fruit which doesn’t need any plastic packaging.
If you want to bring a full picnic lunch, a cool box or insulated bag will keep perishable foods cooler for longer. Try to choose easy-to-eat items that won’t be affected too much by a bit of sand. Sandwiches, crisps (chips to the Americans), veggies like cherry tomatoes and carrot sticks and a piece of fruit make for a satisfying and tasty lunch.
Then you can treat yourself to an ice cream!
Extra Things to Pack for the Beach
If you are driving to your beach vacation spot, a beach umbrella is a great idea to provide some shade for the day – or you can often hire them on the beach. If you don’t have space or the cash for a parasol, try to take some breaks from the sun and spend some time in the shade.
Camping Chairs / Loungers
If you’re serious about a beach day trip, or struggle to get up and down from the sand then a camping chair or lounger could make you much more comfortable. Of course, this means more stuff to carry, but if you are driving to the beach and have a parking spot close by then why not?
I remember these from windy days on British beaches – and it may seem silly but if you have been on a windy beach then you know how much the sand stings in the air! Wind breakers protect your spot from gusts of wind blowing sand everywhere and gives you a little more privacy too.
Families will probably prefer a pop-up beach tent, to provide shade and shelter for your little ones.
Active adults and energetic kids will be glad of something to do at the beach, so a beach ball, frisbee, bat and ball or even just a bucket and spade will keep them occupied! I used to love exploring rock pools at the beach with a bucket and net, that would keep me busy for hours on end.
Inflatables and Floatation Devices
For me, this is one thing to leave off the beach packing list! I personally don’t like to bring large inflatables to the beach, but if you do use them please be careful and stay where you can still stand up. Be aware of currents which could sweep you out to sea, and never leave children unattended on an inflatable.
Get Your Printable Beach Checklist
Here’s your quick reference printable beach checklist which you can keep for future beach trips. I’ve included some space at the bottom so you can add extra personal items and make notes.
Have I missed anything that you always take with you to the beach? If you have more essentials to add to this beach packing list please do let me know and I will update it!
If you’re looking for travel insurance for your beach trip, get a quote now from World Nomads.
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Just to let you know, this post may contain paid or affiliate links, which help to maintain Tales of a Backpacker and give me the chance to keep travelling, and to keep creating awesome content for you! I only recommend goods and services I believe are useful and reliable.Last updated: September 5, 2020