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Beach Bag Essentials: Things to Pack

Headed to the beach on your vacation? Whether you are planning a full beach vacation, or may just enjoy one day during a trip, a beach vacation can be a wonderful, fun, and relaxing time. One of the keys to a perfect day in the sun is making sure that you have the right supplies to keep everyone happy and entertained by the water.

Here are some of our top beach bag essentials that you should have on hand for your trip to the pool or beach. Don’t forget the beach bag – there are so many fun, stylish bags to choose from, so you’ll have loads of options. (Looking for tips for cheap family beach vacations? Check out this post).

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10 Beach Bag Essentials - ten things that you'll want to include in your bag for your next family vacation.

Beach Bag Essentials

A Fabulous HatLook fashionable while protecting the delicate skin of your face from the sun with a great sun hat. Choose a foldable or rollable hat with a wide brim to provide plenty of coverage that is easy to stash away in your bag.

Make sure you actually wear it when you are on vacation. If you are packing the hat in your suitcase, make sure you pack it so that it doesn’t get smashed. I typically leave the hat open in my suitcase and fill the inside with clothes to keep the shape.

If you are traveling to a windy location, you may prefer a baseball cap. Although it isn’t as protective, it will be easier to stay on your head.

Swimsuit Cover Up – While it’s fun to show off your cute swimsuit, sometimes you just want a little more coverage. Toss a lightweight, flowy cover up into your bag and stay cool and comfortable in the sun. You can use it as you walk to and from the beach, as well as when you need a little coverage from the sun.


Good SunscreenIt’s important to protect your skin on beach days with a good sunscreen. Choose an option that is at least 30 SPF and suitable for your skin type. Don’t forget to re-apply regularly, especially after swimming or excessive sweating.

This Blue Lizard bottle linked above actually changes color when it detects UV rays. It’s a good way to make sure you know exactly when your skin is being damaged by the sun.

If your beach vacation includes snorkeling in protected areas or swimming with animals, it’s a good idea to get reef safe sunscreen. Here’s an option on Amazon. 

A Big Beach Towel Your standard sized bath towels just won’t cut it against a summer breeze when you step out of the water. Look for oversized beach towels that are quick-drying, such as microfiber options. Some beach hotels will offer beach towels for guests, so check before you leave.

Beach BlanketYou won’t want to use your beach towels to sit on in the sand, especially once they’re damp. A big beach blanket or smaller rollable blankets can be easily stored in the trunk for a day at the beach or pool, plus are handy when at other outdoor events. Leave it there all summer long!

Reading Material – A great book or magazine is your best friend while relaxing by the water. Go old-school with a hard copy or download some titles to a tablet or e-reader. The Kindle Paperwhite is a great reader choice, as it is less susceptible to glare and has a long battery life.

If you are traveling to a location without WiFi, make sure you load your books on the Kindle in advance of your vacation. Always add more books than you think you need, in case you have even more free time during your trip.


Sand Games – Kids and adults alike enjoy some time playing in the sand. In addition to your standard pail and shovel sand toys, toss a fun game or two in your bag. Frisbees, paddleball, and similar games are great to play on the beach.

If you are flying for your beach vacation, you may want to stick with smaller games, or purchase them once you are at your destination.

Here are two games you can purchase in advance of your trip:

Snacks and Drinks – Pack plenty of water, juice boxes, and simple snacks that are easy to eat. Consider your selections carefully, remembering that blowing sand could stick to certain items. If packing a cooler, choose one that is simple to carry from the car to your seating area. 

Flying to your vacation? Make a stop on the way to your hotel to get these items. Stay at a hotel with a refrigerator in the room so you can keep things cool. Or have groceries delivered right to your room.

Baby PowderA bit of baby powder on a dry washcloth will remove sand from skin with just a quick swipe. You have to love a beach hack that reduces the amount of sand that finds its way into your car or hotel room!

A Little Cash – Having some cash on hand when you visit the pool or beach is always a great idea. Many times, snack bars or food carts are not set up to take a card and you may need change for parking. Consider a diversion can to keep your cash and any other valuables safe.

When you’re well prepared, any day at the beach or pool is sure to be a blast! What are your must-have items? Do you drive to the beach, or fly to a beach destination?

Note: This post was written by a guest author and updated by us in 2020.

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