Plan,  What to Pack

The Essential Packing List for Your Beach Vacation

Now that your beach vacation is finally booked and ready, it is time to create a packing list. Whether you go swimming locally or have not been to the beach in years, this list will help pack better. It is always the little things that we forget on vacation, so use this list to help you have a better time at the beach. Here your essential packing list for your beach vacation:

1. Reef Safe Sunscreen

First, you need to protect your skin! You may be reading this thinking, “yes of course I have sunscreen,” reef-safe sunscreen is often the most overlooked packing item for the beach. Of course, wearing sunscreen will protect your skin from the sun (and avoid the dreaded sunburn look). But purchasing reef-safe sunscreen will also help the ocean and the boat you are on. Hawaii was the first US state to ban the sale of “regular” sunscreen, so you must pack reef-safe sunscreen.

What this means is that you need to look for products that do not contain oxybenzone and octinoxate. Those items are toxic to marine life. There are numerous other ingredients to avoid, but try to look for reef safe products. Even better are plastic-free products like Little Hands Hawaii All-natural and Organic Sunscreen.

Another option will be purchasing the sunscreen at your destination. Beware of this choice, as the products will be limited and very expensive compared to home. Do yourself a favor and purchase your favorite reef-safe sunscreen at home.

2. Beach Bag

Obviously, you are going to need a place to put all your beach items, so pack a beach bag. You do not need to grab an oversized tote with mesh lining. Use the type of bag you are already comfortable with. If you love backpacks, pack one that will be able to hold your items.

Opt for a simple pack over the school-specific bags that have several pockets. The Convertible Carryall from United by Blue is a tote/backpack hybrid that is made from recycled materials. A beach bag will allow to you prepare everything the night before so you can wake up and go straight to the beach.

3. Water Bottle

Certainly, you should stay hydrated while at the beach by packing a water bottle. Avoid purchasing a pack of water at the store and use your own bottle instead. Single-use plastics create more trash and typically leech plastic in your water. Find a water bottle made out of stainless steelglass, or sugarcane that you can enjoy year after year.

4. Towel

Now, you have to consider bringing along a towel on your beach vacation. Unless you are staying at a resort where you check out pool towels, of course. You may not want to pack a towel because of the size, but many travel towels are great alternatives.

Whether you pack your own towel or bring one from your hotel, this will be key to travel from the beach. Some taxis will not allow you in their cab if you are wet, so bring a towel and dry off. These are also great if you get to a beach with hot sand. Just lay the towel on the sand and enjoy the sun.

5. Sunglasses

Because the sun causes damage to our skin, you also should consider protecting your eyes. Too much UV light will harm your eyes, causing problems like eye growths or snow blindness. Even at the beach, it is important to protect your eyes. Pack your favorite UV-blocking, polarized sunglasses.

6. Hat

For the same reason listed above, packing a hat will protect you from the sun. This will shade your scalp and face. Sunscreen will wash off your skin, but a hat will help protect your scalp and forehead. If you wear a full sunhat instead of a ballcap, you will get some added shade on your shoulders. The sun will still reflect off the water, so wearing a hat is not a full replacement for reef-safe sunscreen.

7. Sandals

Next, you should consider packing sandals for the beach. Yes, your trusty sneakers will get you from point a to b no problem. But once you add sand, sandals become a much easier shoe to have at the beach. You can slip them off, hop in the water, and still protect your feet from rocks or hot sand.

8. Two Swimsuits

In addition to proper footwear, packing multiple swimsuits will save your beach vacation. This is because swimsuits never seem to fully dry overnight in your hotel bathroom. Putting on a wet swimsuit the next morning is the worst! This can be avoided by packing a second swimsuit so you can have a dry suit to put on every morning.

9. Coverup

Immediately after your beach day, you may want to put on a coverup. It is a more comfortable way to get from your hotel room, through the lobby, on the way to the pool or beach. And it is another opportunity to style yourself.

While wearing your swimsuit at the beach is normal, once you get into town you will want to cover up. This is especially true if you are in a small beach town. The locals will not be impressed by your ability to walk around in underwear. Cover up with board shorts, a shirt, or dress on your walk through town.

10. Swim Shirt

Just as important as hats, sunscreen for sun protection is a swim shirt. If you only plan one beach day, this may not be an item you will pack. However, if you are on a weeklong vacation with long beach days, pack this. A swim shirt (or rash guard) will protect your shoulders and arms from the sun on long days. When the sun is out in full force, your sunscreen may wash off in the ocean and your skin will be vulnerable very quickly. Pack this shirt so you can swim all week and avoid burned shoulders.

What do you have on your packing list for beach vacations? Let me know in the comments below.

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