Packing sucks.

If you’re like me, you struggle to find that fine line between just enough and too much. I want to make sure I have everything I need, but I hate to be that person who shows up for a 3-day trip with giant, stuffed suitcase that makes me look like I’m running away from home.

The best solution I’ve found? Lists! I take my packing lists very seriously and start making them days before the trip. I always make 3: Clothes, Toiletries and Miscellaneous.

Every traveler and trip is different, of course, but I thought I’d share my essential beach packing lists for those who know that the packing struggle is real. Without further ado…

Clothes

What else should you bring besides obvious stuff like undies & pajamas?

  1. 2 Swimsuits – If you’ll be swimming at the beach more than 1 day in a row, it’s best to have 2 suits so that you can wash and dry each one before wearing it again. And one cannot overstate the hellish experience of putting on a wet bathing suit. When you get home for the day, take your swimsuit in the shower with you, wash it with some warm water and mild hand soap and lay it out to dry.
  2. 2 Pairs of Sandals – As long as you don’t plan on working out, hiking or going somewhere fancy, just 2 pairs of sandals should be sufficient for almost any beach vacation. One pair should be good for wearing to and on the beach and the other should be appropriate for wearing to dinner with a nicer outfit.
  3. Swim Shoes – Throwing a pair of those thin, flexible swim shoes/socks in your beach bag is never a bad idea. Whether the sand is burning hot or there’s just a rocky shore, it’s helpful to have quick-drying, protective footwear just in case you need them.
  4. Sun Hat – For the first couple of hours on the beach, the sun feels amazing on your face. But after a while, it can become oppressive, not to mention seriously damaging to your skin even if you’re wearing SPF 1000. Bring a wide-brimmed hat that you can throw on to protect your most sensitive skin while you’re lounging.
  5. Beach Cover Up – It’s nice to have something to put on over your bathing suit besides a damp, sandy towel. A  coverup comes in handy for heading to the concession stand, going for a walk along the water or just shielding your skin from the sun for a while. Go for something thin and light, quick-drying and comfy – in a fix, a t-shirt will do.
  6. Casual Outing Outfit – In most American beach towns, things are pretty casual.  But even for a lunch or dinner at a beachside cafe, you might want to wear something slightly nicer than a t-shirt and cut-offs.  For guys, the ol’ standby khaki shorts and a polo or short-sleeved button down is perfect, and ladies can’t go wrong with a cute sundress and a pair of wedge sandals.
  7. Mix & Match Comfy Separates – Don’t think too much here – just grab a couple pairs of shorts, tank tops, t-shirts and, for women, jersey or cotton dresses. Try to stick within one color scheme like blues, greys and black. That way, you can pretty much grab anything and have an instant, easy and comfortable outfit for bumming around your hotel or cabin, strolling down the boardwalk or hitting the ice cream shop.
  8. Sunglasses – This one doesn’t need much explanation, except to say that it’s always a good idea to bring a back-up pair since shades seem to be one of those things (like socks) that often grow feet and walk away when you need them most.
  9. Easy Jewelry – For women, a simple pair of dangly, silver earrings or a long, multi-strand necklace is often the easiest way to elevate a plain black cotton dress from beach coverup to dinner outfit.
  10. Long Sleeves – Even if the weather forecast is pure hot and sunny, bring along at least one hoody or long-sleeved t-shirt. You’ll want to have it in case the temperature drops at night or just want to protect your arms from the skeeters.

Toiletries

What else should you bring besides obvious stuff like shampoo and face wash?

  1. Suncreen – Regardless of the color of your skin or your desire for a tan, you should always be generously slathered in sunscreen if you’re outside. Make sure yours has an SPF of at least 30, is waterproof and not expired. And always remember, you still need sunscreen even if it’s cloudy or overcast.
  2. Minimal Makeup & Hair Products – Bring only what you need for a super low maintenance beauty routine. I’d recommend only BB/CC cream, concealer, bronzer that you’ll also use as eye shadow, highlighter, one eyeliner, mascara and a tinted lip gloss.
  3. Bug Spray – This is pretty key for those sunset drinks or night time beach bonfires. Make sure you choose one that is unscented and quick-drying so you don’t end up smelling like a kid’s summer camp.
  4. Aloe Gel – Let’s hope you don’t need this because you’re so responsible about applying your sunscreen, but it never hurts to have some of this moisturizing, cooling gel in case anyone gets a sunburn.

Miscellaneous

What other super useful beach stuff should I not forget to pack?

  1. Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker – These are cheap and easy to come by, so why not toss one in the tote? I suggest also creating a beach playlist before you go, so you’re ready to cue up only the chillest tunes.
  2. Waterproof Phone Pouches – Don’t chance damaging your pricey smartphone. Put them inside handy waterproof pouches that have transparent, touch-sensitive surfaces. That way, you can check your texts, change the song or even take pictures underwater without ever exposing your phone to water and sand.
  3. Nylon Beach Blanket – You certainly could just sit on the sand or your towel, but that can get pretty uncomfortable for several hours on the beach. Instead, opt for a parachute nylon blanket – it dries very fast, is easy to brush off and is cool and smooth on your skin. Simplify your life by buying our SeaMigo beach bundle, which includes a 7×7 foot parachute blanket, 2 waterproof phone pouches and a drawstring sport backback. Boom! Beach day sorted.
  4. Cooler – When you’re in the sun all day, it’s critical to stay hydrated. So, be sure to pack up a cooler with ice, plenty of water and some refreshing snacks like grapes or watermelon slices. And we won’t tell if a couple of those Gatorade bottles contain vodka lemonade either.
  5. Beach Tote – Don’t forget to bring along a bag that’s durable and big enough to accommodate all your gear. I like to use a foldable, waterproof bag that can easily be stuffed into a corner of a suitcase. Mine is similar to this one, which you can get on Amazon for just $9.

Although packing for a trip can be stressful, it’s a whole lot easier when you master the art of lists. They ensure you have everything that you need and only what you need.

So, print this out or just bookmark it so you’ll have it at your fingertips when it’s time to prepare for your next beach vacation. Don’t worry, you can thank me later when you’re relaxing on the beach in comfort and style.