Summer is almost over in Europe and North America but the beach holidays are not. Yes, if you’re going for a beach vacation in Europe or North America then the season is over. However the beach holiday season is just about to begin in Asia, South America and Australia.

You see, if you’re in a warmer country like India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, etc then the perfect time for a beach vacation in winter time (because summer is either too hot or it rains all the time). Yes, the “peak” beach vacation months are October to February. In case of Australia, the seasons are completely opposite in the Southern Hemisphere so what’s winter in Europe or America is summer in Australia.

If you’re a beach bum like me then you’re perhaps trying to maximize your beach time by spending summer in European beaches and winter months in places like Goa, Bali, Sri Lanka, or Thailand’s many beaches.

Maya Bay in Thailand – one of the most beautiful beaches in the world

When it comes to packing for the beach, then remember the mantra – LESS IS MORE. Make your life easier by packing less. Some items can be used in a multiple ways. Carry more items only if you’re sure you’re going to use them.

Before I start the list of essential things to pack for the beach,  I’m assuming that you’re at least wearing (or carrying):

  • a swimsuit,
  • beach clothes, (a summer dress, or shorts with a tank for guys and gals)
  • flip flops (or sandals). 
  • a beach bag

So what stuff to bring to the beach? Below is my list and it usually changes if I travel with or without family.

Of course, my beach packing list also depends on which kind of beach I’m going to, if I’m flying for a beach vacation or driving to a beach for a beach day with family. This is why I have mentioned “optional” next to a few items, so this beach packing checklist is super flexible.

Packing List for Beach Day

Sunscreen

Pure Obagi Sunscreen Matte SPF 50 – Beach Packing List

Let’s face it. It’s no fun wearing sunscreen because most are heavy, greasy and uncomfortable. Moreover, many of them make the face look super oily – yuck! 

Over the years I have realized that I damaged my skin when I was backpacking in Sri Lanka. I didn’t use a sunscreen but used coconut oil like a hippie (just because I had read somewhere that it’s a natural sunscreen – ouch!). Don’t get me wrong, coconut oil is amazing but it isn’t a sunscreen. It is a good after sun moisturizer though.

So what damage did I cause? I’m not talking about a burn, but fine lines in some areas of my neck and face. Guess what, I’m not in a hurry to get wrinkles.

I have learned my lesson and I now take my sunscreen very seriously. It is an investment that’s not just limited to the beach holiday, but how I look for months or years after the holiday. 

So, after trying many sunscreens, I have realized that I hate most of them. I dislike the texture and how my face looks oiled up and feels sticky after. The so called “matte look” sunscreen are sometimes look like heavy foundation. Most likely you’re nodding while reading this because you have faced this too, right?

Pure Obagi Sunscreen – beach packing list

There’s one particular sunscreen that changed my like. It’s Pure Obagi Sun Shield Matte (Broad Spectrum SPF 50). Not only does it feel good on the skin, but it highly effective. 

If you know a little about skincare, then you would have heard of Obagi Medical Products already. Pure Obagi is the retailer for Obagi Medical Products in EU and the UK.

Once you have a decent sunscreen with you, then make sure you apply it from head to toes before you step out. Carry it with you so that you can reapply in a few hours or after your swim. Yes, you need a sunscreen even when it is cloudy.

Sunglasses

A nice pair of sunglasses are a “must have” for any beach trip. They will make you more comfortable because you won’t have to squint your eyes when you look up on a sunny day. Plus point, go crazy and express your style and make a statement with a fun pair of sunglasses. 

Ray Ban Sunglasses – What to pack for beach

I love RayBans – they are timeless. Not just in terms of fashion but also the worth. Once you buy a pair, then you don’t need anything else. They come with a lifetime warranty, so you can get them repaired for free in any authorized RayBan shop. 

I have had my amber RayBan aviator glasses since 2009 and they went perfectly with my mood and all my tropical outfits. Sadly between so much traveling and moving my base from one country to another, I seem to have lost them. But I highly recommend them in case you want the same. 

Sunhat 

Sant’Andrea beach in Puglia, Italy

A wide-brimmed sun hat will keep your head cool during the times when. you don’t have a shade on your head.You don’t have to even carry one from before, you can just buy it from your beach destination. They sell them everywhere anyways.

I have kept this item as optional because I’m aware that not everyone wants to wear a hat. It is good to wear one and at times I have avoided sickness just because I had a hat on. 

If you’re traveling with children, then make sure they wear hats because their head will get heated up before they realize (or even you realize). I often forget to carry my hat but I make sure I carry at least two for my little girl.

Beach Mat (if you’re not in a resort)

I have kept this point as an optional one because you won’t need a beach mat everywhere. In many places you can get a sun-bed on the beach. Almost all resorts, restaurants or beach bars have them. In case you’re not going to one then carry a beach mat by all means.

I have a folding one which I carry on the beach all the time ever since I have started traveling my my little one.

Sarong or a Cover Up

San and I at Phra Nang Beach after attempting to reach the lagoon

Wearing my sarong as a skirt at Phra Nang Beach

I love Sarongs and I have many of them. They can be used in so many ways. They make an amazing cover up over the swim suit with endless possibilities.

More than just a cover up, a nice sarong can be used in many ways. I often travel light and I ditch the bigger towels and use my sarong to dry my body. On days I don’t want to carry my beach mat, I use my sarong as a mat and it works well. 

You can wear your sarong as a skirt, as a dress or even use it as a headwrap in case you forget to carry your hat. It is really one of the most versatile item for any kind of a beach vacation. That’s why I carry 2-3 of them, it is my must-have beach packing list item.

Sarongs aren’t just for women, they are for men too. If you ever travel to South India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Myanmar and many other asian countries, you will notice that it is an important part of men’s traditional outfits. They are called “lungi”s.

Towel (Optional)

I have put towel as an optional item because if you’re at a resort then most likely you will get a towel from there. Even if you’re not at a resort, and you’re a “sarong person”, then you will most likely not need a towel because you will air dry yourself and then your sarong will dry you further.


 

In any case, I love fluffy towels but I believe one should pack as light as possible so check out microfiber towels that are thin and pack super tiny. And they do the job.

Something to Drink

King’s Beer in Goa – Pack something to drink on the beach

This is a must for not just a beach day but every single outing. Carry water in a reusable bottle, especially if you’re traveling with children. It is always a good idea to carry your own bottle that can be refilled. 

I don’t know about you, but I also usually carry 1-2 beers in case I don’t find a beach bar. After all, it is a vacation. Yes, I did say one should travel light but beer is always an exception.

A Snack (Optional)

Enjoying an ice cream in Denovici, Kotor Bay in Montenegro

A Snack on the Beach in Denovici, Kotor Bay in Montenegro

I never carried a snack for myself when I visited the beach but I do now for my little girl. It can be cookies, fruit or even crackers or even an energy bar. Children create more tantrums on empty stomachs so make sure you don’t forget something sweet or salty for your little one.

Face Mask as per Corona Restrictions

It’s 2021, no one ever leaves their home without a face mask. In most of the places on a public beach, you may not need to wear a face mask but if you need to visit a restaurant, a bar or a public toilet, then you will surely need your mask.

If you’re heading out of your hometown to a beach destination, then be smart and buy a pack of 20 before you go so that you don’t have to worry about it later.

Snorkel Gear (Optional)

Not every place to swim is snorkel worthy, this is why this point is optional. Snorkeling is so much easier as compared to scuba diving and this is something most people can do without any experience or training. 

Find out about the water clarity and marine life and if possible, try to snorkel to get more out of your beach time. After all, you won’t be just sitting on the beach the entire time, right?

Dry Bag (Optional)

Do you need a dry bag for every beach vacation? No. You only need one in case you (+ your travel buddy) going to be swimming and snorkeling so that you can keep your valuables safe with you on your back.  

When I travel with my husband and our little girl, I normally don’t need a dry bag unless we’re on a kayak or something. However, when it is me and my husband together then I carry a dry bag because we both often swim together or snorkel together.

A Waterproof Camera (Optional)

You don’t need a waterproof camera, unless you want to click epic underwater shots. In case you do, then pick the best – GoPro. You can really elevate your beach pictures if you can capture some underwater moments. 

I always travel with my GoPro and I use it for more than just action photography. I sometimes use it as a “normal” camera and guess what, it never disappoints me.

Power Bank (Optional)

In case you use a lot of gadgets or you’re heading to the beach for photography purposes, then make sure you carry your power bank. Charge your battery so that you don’t miss out on capturing epic beach sunsets as the day ends.

If you’re flying for a beach vacation, then keep in mind that you can’t usually carry a power bank in your check in luggage. Some airlines will ask you to carry it with you on the flight. Make sure you clarify this while you’re checking in. I once had to throw away my power bank because they found it later in my check in bag and asked me to go through the security again. I was already late for my flight so I had to give it away, to avoid missing my flight.

Sand Toys (for families with small children)

Sand Toys - Beach checklist for family

Sand Toys – Beach checklist for family

Children love beaches because it means endless play time. I also think that there’s so much one can find on the beach to play with that there’s no need for toys. There are seashells, sand, water, sticks, etc.

However, I spent a month in a beach town in Puglia (Italy) with my little one and realized that sand toys are mandatory because every single kid around us had them. As soon as my girl saw other kids with their own sand buckets and shovels, she wanted a set for her too!

If you’re flying for a beach vacation then you don’t have to buy a set from before because you will see people selling them around beaches everywhere. In case you’re driving to a beach then by all means buy from before.

Beach Racket Ball or Frisbee (Optional)

Sunset at Candolim Beach, North Goa

Sunset Racketball Game at Candolim Beach, North Goa – Beach packing list

Beach games aren’t just for small children or families. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time on the beach then make the most of it by playing your favorite outdoor game.

Get a frisbee, a ball or racketball or be inventive and create a new game.

Inflatable Floaties or floating Hammock

So I was never into floaties, till I discovered the joys of floating in an inflatable hammock. I don’t like most of the floties because I’d rather be in the water but with an inflatable hammock, you can hang in water but your feet and head are above the water. It is just like a hammock but in water.

Moreover, as we traveled more with our daughter, we realized that she had much more fun on a floatie. If you’re traveling with family then this is a fun item to pack to make your beach time memorable.

Toddler Swim Diapers (if you’re with a baby or a toddler)

Heading to the beach with your little one? Then make them wear a swim diaper and make sure you carry some extra ones. I always bought them from before when we traveled with our girl when she was smaller. Traveling with a baby is sometimes not so easy and I tried to leave as less things to last minute as possible.

Wet Wipes (Beach Checklist for Family)

Not just for a beach day, but this is something I have in my bag on most days. I like to carry wet wipes not just for my little one but also for cleaning my hands, face or even cleaning the toilet seat in case I go to a public toilet.

Your Phone + Wallet with Money

I don’t even need to mention these two things because everyone moves around with their smart phone and their wallets. Since it’s a packing list for the beach, I wanted to make sure to mention everything possible in order to help you.

If you’re carrying your credit card and debit card, make sure to carry a bit of loose change – just in case a few beach bars or restaurants don’t accept cash. Or, in some areas you may have to use a paid public toilet and some of them can only be accessed with coins.

The Ultimate Beach packing list for Families, Couples or Singles

Final Thoughts on Beach Packing List

Remember – you don’t need to pack everything in your beach bag that I have mentioned on this list. Just pack your sun protection and the things that are important to you (or your family). Don’t forget to smile and have a good time – because hey, you’re on a beach and it doesn’t get better than this – am I right?

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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