I’ve always loved visiting water parks – both indoor and outdoor. There’s so much for kids to do, and many water parks offer something for everyone – from a splash pad for small children to water slides and a wave pool for more daring teens. But before you go, you may be wondering what to pack for the water park. Here are our suggestions.
Before you do any packing, you’ll want to do a little planning and check with the specific water park that you’ll be visiting to see what is prohibited and what is available for your use. Many parks will not allow outside food, while others will, for instance.
You’ll also want to check the weather if you are visiting an outdoor water park. Obviously, for an indoor water park, you’ll have few things to worry about.
It’s also a good idea to see if the water park offers lockers. Some may have cabanas you can rent, but you’ll probably want a secure space to put your belongings unless one member of your group doesn’t plan to walk around.
If you are visiting a water park at the resort you are staying at with your family vacation, you’ll probably need much less than what is listed here. You can just change in your room, and not worry about a change of clothes or a wet bag to transport wet items. However, if you are driving on a day trip to a water park, you’ll need to pack more – even if you leave some of it in the car.
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What to Pack for a Water Park Trip
Regardless of what you need to bring, you’ll need something to put it all in. It’s best to leave your nice purse at home, and instead bring a beach bag with all of the essentials, including your wallet and keys.
While I love big beach bags, like Boggs, those won’t necessarily fit in a locker. So, you may want something a little more pliable so it can be pushed into a smaller space. One of my favorite beach bags is this one from Aloha Collection, which can be purchased on Amazon.com.
Of course, you can’t visit a water park without bringing your bathing suits. Depending on where the water park is, you may want to already wear your suit in. Otherwise, you can probably change into your suit in the facilities at the water park.
Since you’ll likely be active on waterslides, in wave pools, etc, be mindful of the swimsuit you bring. Make sure you feel comfortable and secure in it. If you are going to be in the sun all day, SPF rash guard shirts are always a good idea to have.
Some water parks (especially those at resorts and hotels) may offer towels. However, often, you can’t bring these out of the park with you (even to your hotel room). Therefore, I usually like to have my own beach towel.
I love Sand Cloud towels, which fold up nice and thin and are very absorbent. You can find them on Amazon. But any towels you have at home will also be good to have. If you are going to change and shower at the water park, you may want to have two towels per person. After a day of fun, it’s nice to have your own towel that is completely dry.
Change of Clothes
No one wants to drive home at the end of the day in a wet swimsuit, so make sure you have a change of dry clothes. If you are changing into your suit at the park, you’ll probably already have clothes. But, if you are already wearing a swimsuit, you’ll need to pack something to change into (and don’t forget the underwear). It can’t hurt to pack extra clothes – even if you leave them in your car.
If I spent the day at a water park, I usually end up too hot and too cold, all on the same day. Pack a cover-up that you can use when you are getting food, or when you want to sit down for a little while and rest.
You’ll probably find that you are barefoot for a good amount of your water park day. However, you may also want to slip on some water shoes at times. This is especially important whenever you get food, visit the locker rooms, or go into the public restroom.
Look for shoes that are easy to put on, but that are less likely to slip on the wet ground. I will usually wear my shoes up until the end of the pool or lazy river, or the start of the water slide, and then return for them when I’m done. Flip flops may be slippery, so just be sure you feel comfortable in them. Here are some options.
If you are visiting an outdoor waterpark, don’t forget to pack and wear sunscreen. Depending on when you visit, you may want to put this on before leaving home or at the park entrance when you arrive. You’ll need a good amount if you plan to spend much of your day outside. I also recommend lip balm with SPF protection.
Pack sunscreen that is water-resistant, but keep in mind that even waterproof sunscreen will wear off or come off when you wipe it down with a towel. So, you’ll need to keep applying it throughout the day. You’ll probably use more than you expect, so pack a good amount to save yourself from having to buy some at an inflated price at the park.
Sunglasses and Hat
You will also probably want sunglasses and a hat if you are going to be in the strong sun all day. In most cases, you won’t be able to take these items on a waterslide, but they are still important to have when you are lounging by the pool, eating lunch, or watching the kids. If you have long hair, you may also want to bring along a hair tie to keep your hair out of your face.
Life Vests and Other Devices
Some water parks have life jackets available for guests to use at no cost, and some don’t allow you to bring your own. So, this is something you’ll want to check on before leaving your house or hotel.
Food and Water Bottle
Many parks will not allow outside food, so you’ll need to check this in advance. However, if they do allow you to bring your own food, you can definitely save some money by packing your own lunches, snacks, and water bottles. Don’t forget the ice packs to things stay cool.
In addition, staying hydrated in the heat is important, so make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Waterproof Camera or Waterproof Case for Your Phone
If you want to have any pictures or videos from your visit, you’ll need a waterproof camera. Depending on how active your day is, this may be best left in the locker for safe-keeping when it’s not being used.
In lieu of an entirely separate camera, you may consider a waterproof case for your cell phone. I typically will use a waterproof phone case for my phone, but will only stand at the edge of the pool taking photos, rather than completely submerging it. I just feel that any case I put on myself, even a waterproof cell phone case, could potentially have an issue (see some options here)
I always travel with a portable charger for my phone. We have a full post with recommendations of our favorites. The important thing is to be sure the portable charger is fully charged before you leave your house or hotel.
Money for Snacks or Souvenirs
You may not want to bring all of your money and credit cards, but you’ll need some. Be sure you have enough money for any food, admission cost, souvenirs, and other essentials that you’ll need. This is something you’ll definitely want to put in the locker when you aren’t using it.
Lock for Locker
Some water parks will offer lockers free of charge to guests, but don’t supply the locks. This is something you should look into before traveling to the water park. If you need a lock, find something that will fit on those particular lockers. I’d recommend a combination lock, rather than one with a key, so you won’t have to worry about losing the key.
Here’s one on Amazon, but be sure you know whether you need one, and what size you’ll need.
Traveling home with wet bathing suits can be challenging if you don’t prepare. Otherwise, you’ll end up soaking everything else in your beach bag. I like to have wet bags on hand, so we can just slide the swimsuits in there and not worry about them until we are home.
In a pinch, you could also consider using large resealable plastic bags. Those should also keep your wet suit away from dry items in the bag. Just make sure you have enough bags to fit all of the wet clothes. I like to have one bag per wet bathing suit.
If you are traveling with an infant or toddler who will be going into the water, you’ll want to make sure you have enough swim diapers packed in your diaper bag. Check with the park in advance to see what the rules are because sometimes kids have to be potty trained to go into the water.
Did we miss anything you bring to a water park? If so, leave us a comment!