Sun, Sand, and Smiles! Here is the best beach packing list for babies, toddlers, teens, and the whole family vacation. (+ a free printable checklist)

Planning a family beach vacation is an exciting endeavor, and ensuring you have everything you need can make your trip even more enjoyable. From building sandcastles to splashing in the waves, a day at the beach is filled with endless possibilities. To help you make the most of your family getaway, I’ve put together The Best Beach Packing List for Family Vacation. Get ready for sun-soaked adventures and unforgettable moments!

My family of five plans a beach trip every year. As my kids have grown, I’ve learned a few tricks for planning a successful family beach trip. I’m going to share these essential items with you in my ultimate beach vacation packing list. I’ve also included a free, downloadable checklist for you. I always love a good checklist! 

There are several lists below to make it more convenient and organized for you, like what to pack for travel in the car, a beach list for babies, an ultimate guide with toddlers, and more. I hope to get you as prepared as possible so you can simply enjoy your beach destination and family time!

For the most part, I am assuming that you are driving to the beach. If you are flying, some of these items would definitely change. You won’t be able to pack a beach umbrella or chairs on a plane! Though I never use a stroller at the beach (they just don’t work well on sand) if you are flying to your destination or know you will be visiting parks and other places, a good fold-up stroller would be really helpful for you. 

The Best Beach Packing List for Family Vacation

What to Pack for Travel in the Car

Traveling in the car with kids requires careful planning to keep them comfortable, entertained, and safe. Here’s a comprehensive packing list to ensure a smooth road trip:

Car Essentials:

  1. Car Documents:
    • Wallet with insurance information
    • Roadside assistance information
  2. Travel Itinerary:
    • Printed or digital map with the route
    • Check-in and contact information
  3. Car Essentials:
    • Spare tire, jack, and tire iron
    • Jumper cables
    • Emergency roadside kit

Car Comfort and Safety:

  1. Car Seats:
    • Ensure car seats are correctly installed for each child
  2. Comfort Items:
    • Pillows and blankets for naps
    • Stuffed animals or comfort toys
    • Sunshades or window shades
  3. Clothing:
    • Extra clothes for unexpected spills or accidents
    • Sweaters or jackets for varying temperatures
  4. Snacks and Drinks:
    • Healthy snacks in easy-to-reach containers
    • Sippy cups or spill-proof water bottles
    • Cooler with perishable snacks and drinks
    • Wipes to quickly clean hands
  5. Trash Bags:
    • Small trash bags for collecting wrappers and trash (or plastic grocery store bags)

Travel Entertainment:

  1. Audio Entertainment:
    • Audiobooks or podcasts suitable for kids
    • Playlists of favorite music or songs
  2. Tablets and Electronics:
    • Fully charged tablets with kid-friendly apps
    • Downloaded shows (most streaming services allow temporary downloads of favorite shows & movies)
    • Headphones for each child (if needed)
    • Velcro mounts/holders to attach tablets to back of seats
  3. Car Games:
    • Travel-sized board games
    • Card games or travel-sized decks
    • I Spy or scavenger hunt lists
    • Wix Sticks for creative play
    • Magnet Scenes (great for kids 3+)
    • Pretend steering wheel (this was all my son needed to be content)
  4. Coloring Supplies:
    • Coloring books and crayons
    • Washable markers and drawing paper or Color Wonder Paper and Markers

Car Health and Safety:

  1. First Aid Kit:
    • Basic first aid supplies (band-aids, antiseptic wipes, etc.)
    • Medications for motion sickness or allergies
  2. Sun Protection:
    • Sunscreen for rest stops or outdoor activities
    • Hats and sunglasses for sunny days
  3. Travel Potty:
    • Portable potty for emergencies (great for kids still learning to potty!)
    • Plastic bags and wipes for easy cleanup

Navigation and Technology:

  1. GPS Device or Smartphone:
    • Ensure navigation apps are installed and updated
    • Car charger for electronic devices
    • Magnetic Phone Holder for easy viewing while navigating
  2. Car Organizer:
    • Backseat organizer for toys, snacks, and essentials
    • Tablet holder for easy viewing

Car Miscellaneous:

  1. Travel Journal:
    • Let older kids document their journey
    • Include a map for marking places visited
  2. Travel Pillow and Blanket:
    • For napping or added comfort during long drives
  3. Car Window Shades:
    • Protect kids from direct sunlight and glare

The Best Beach Packing List for Family Vacation

When planning what to pack for your vacation at the beach, it’s a good idea to ask yourself a few questions to help get you organized.

  • Does the rental have beach chairs and umbrellas available for use?
  • Is there a grill on the property?
  • How far is the walk to the beach? If it’s far, do you need a wagon or cooler on wheels to make the trip easier?
  • If you aren’t close enough to go back and forth from rental to the beach, do you need a tent or umbrella for shade breaks? 

Beach Vacation Checklist for the Family

By covering all these categories, you’ll be well-prepared for a comfortable and enjoyable road trip with your kids. You can adjust the list based on the specific needs and ages of your children. But also see the specific lists for babies, toddlers, and teens below.

1. Sun Protection Essentials

  • Broad-spectrum sunscreen with high SPF for the entire family (consider reef-safe sunscreen)
  • Lip balm with SPF
  • Wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses to shield eyes from the sun
  • UV-protective swimwear for the kids
  • Bug Spray for pesky beach flies

2. Comfortable Beachwear

  • Swimwear for everyone
  • Lightweight cover-ups for extra sun protection
  • Flip-flops or water shoes for sandy walks
  • Beach towels and blankets for lounging

3. Beach Toys and Games

  • Sand toys for building castles and creating beach art
  • Inflatable beach balls and floaties for water play
  • Beach-friendly games like frisbee or paddleball
  • Bucket and shovel for endless sandcastle fun

4. Coolers and Hydration

  • Insulated cooler bag with refreshing drinks
  • Reusable water bottles for each family member
  • Healthy snacks like fruit slices, nuts, and granola bars
  • Frozen gel packs to keep beverages and snacks cool

5. Beach Shade and Seating

  • Lightweight beach umbrella or pop-up tent for shade
  • Portable beach chairs for comfortable seating
  • Sand anchors to secure your shade structure

6. Safety and First Aid

  • Basic first aid kit with band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers
  • Waterproof phone case or pouch
  • Life jackets for young swimmers/ Puddle Jumpers
  • Emergency contact information and medical essentialsDermoplast (blue lid) in case of a jellyfish sting
  • Pads and tampons
  • Any daily medications
  • Contraceptives
  • Aloe Vera

7. Entertainment

  • Beach-friendly books or e-readers
  • Portable Bluetooth speaker for your favorite tunes
  • Waterproof camera or smartphone for capturing memories
  • Power bank for keeping devices charged

8. Beach Bag Essentials

  • Large, durable beach bag to carry all your essentials
  • Ziplock bags (or a grocery plastic bag) for storing wet swimsuits or sandy items
  • Hand sanitizer and wet wipes for quick clean-ups
  • Extra plastic bags for collecting trash
  • Waterproof cell phone case

9. For Mama

Don’t forget to pack Mama’s favorite things too! Though vacation for us is pretty much just watching our kids in other cities, we can have moments of relaxation time. Be sure to ask others to take over kid duty so you can have some uninterrupted time to yourself.

  • Favorite Books
  • Favorite Snacks
  • Personal items like razors, contraceptives, and feminine hygiene products
  • Wide-brimmed sun hat
  • Tanning oil
  • Wine coolers, Cold Brews, or other favorite beverages

Beach Packing List with a Baby

Packing for a beach trip with a baby requires careful consideration to ensure their comfort and safety. Here’s the beach essentials checklist of items to pack for a day at the beach with your little one:

1. Sun Protection:

  • Baby-friendly sunscreen with high SPF
  • Sun hats with a wide brim to shield the face
  • Lightweight, long-sleeved clothing for extra sun protection

2. Swim Essentials:

  • Baby swimsuit or onesie
  • Reusable swim diapers (if needed)
  • Baby beach shoes or water socks
  • Hooded baby towel for post-swim drying

3. Shade and Comfort:

  • Portable baby beach tent or umbrella for shade
  • Lightweight stroller with a sunshade
  • Baby beach chair or mat for comfortable seating
  • Small travel fan to keep baby cool
  • Small, inflatable pool for baby to sit in

4. Feeding and Hydration:

  • Baby formula or breast milk in insulated bottles
  • Baby food and snacks in sealed containers
  • Sippy cup or baby bottle with a spill-proof lid
  • Cooler bag with ice packs for storing baby’s food and drinks

5. Changing Essentials:

  • Portable changing pad
  • Diapers (bring more than you think you’ll need)
  • Baby wipes and diaper rash cream
  • Disposable diaper bags for easy cleanup

6. Comfort Items:

  • Baby blanket for naps or playtime
  • Favorite comfort toys or pacifiers
  • Lightweight baby carrier for walks on the beach
  • Baby-safe insect repellent

7. Safety and First Aid:

  • Baby-safe sunscreen
  • Baby-safe insect repellent
  • Baby-safe hand sanitizer
  • Basic first aid kit with baby-friendly itemsDermoplast (blue lid) in case of a jelly fish sting

8. Beach Toys:

  • Soft beach toys that are easy for little hands to grasp
  • Beach bucket and shovel for sand play
  • Floatation device suitable for babies (if applicable)

9. Clothing and Accessories:

  • Extra baby clothes in case of spills or accidents
  • Baby sunglasses with UV protection
  • Baby swim hat for added sun protection

10. Extras

  • Baby-safe beach books or toys
  • Baby-friendly music playlist or white noise machine
  • Beach-friendly baby float or inflatable baby seat (if applicable)

11. Health Essentials:

  • Baby-safe hand sanitizer
  • Baby-safe insect repellent
  • Baby-safe wipes for quick clean-ups

Remember to tailor this list to your baby’s specific needs and age. Being well-prepared ensures that you and your baby have a safe and enjoyable beach experience. And if all else fails, you can always stop off at the store.

Beach Packing List with Toddlers

Packing for a beach trip with toddlers involves considering their comfort, safety, and entertainment needs. Here’s a family beach packing list for a fun and stress-free day at the beach with your young children:

1. Sun Protection:

  • Toddler-friendly sunscreen with high SPF
  • Sun hat with a wide brim or a cap
  • Sunglasses with UV protection
  • Lightweight, long-sleeved clothing for extra sun protection

2. Swim Essentials:

  • Toddler swimsuit or rash guard set
  • Reusable swim diapers (if needed)
  • Water shoes to protect their feet
  • Hooded toddler beach towel for post-swim drying
  • Puddle jumper or life jacket

3. Shade and Comfort:

  • Portable toddler beach tent or umbrella for shade
  • Toddler beach chair or blanket for comfortable seating
  • Pop-up playpen for naps or a shaded play area
  • Small travel fan to keep them cool

4. Feeding and Hydration:

  • Sippy cup or spill-proof water bottle
  • Snacks in sealed containers
  • Cooler bag with ice packs for perishable snacks
  • Baby-friendly utensils and plates for beach picnics

5. Changing Essentials:

  • Portable changing pad
  • Extra diapers and wipes
  • Diaper rash cream
  • Disposable diaper bags for easy cleanup

6. Comfort Items:

  • Toddler beach toys, such as buckets, shovels, and molds
  • Beach ball or inflatable toys
  • Favorite comfort items, like a small blanket or plush toy
  • Lightweight toddler beach chair or mat

7. Safety and First Aid:

  • Toddler-friendly insect repellent
  • Toddler-safe hand sanitizer
  • Basic first aid kit with toddler-friendly items
  • Baby powder to help remove sand easily
  • Dermoplast (blue lid) in case of a jelly fish sting

8. Clothing and Accessories:

  • Extra toddler clothes, including underwear
  • Swim diapers if not using reusable ones
  • Sandals or water shoes for walking on the beach
  • Change of clothes for the journey back

9. Entertainment:

  • Toddler-friendly beach books or waterproof picture books
  • Beach-friendly toys like beach balls, frisbees, or kites
  • Bubble wands for extra fun
  • Toddler-safe headphones for music or videos
  • Boogie Board (they can sit on it and mom or dad can pull them along the shore)

10. Health Essentials:

  • Toddler-safe hand sanitizer
  • Toddler-safe wipes for quick clean-ups
  • Any necessary medications

Remember to adjust the list based on your specific needs and the age of your toddler. Being well-prepared ensures that you and your toddler have a fantastic and safe beach experience.

the ultimate family vacation packing list

Beach Packing List for Older Kids and Teens

Older kids, tweens, and teens need a few different things than the little ones. They can be oh-so-fun to vacation with though! With a bit more independence, you may get a little more relax time while also making wonderful memories.

  1. Boogie Boards
  2. Beach Games: Frisbee, Football, Volleyball
  3. Cooler: Keep drinks and snacks cool throughout the day.
  4. Cash: For beachside purchases or activities.
  5. Chargers
  6. Gaming Systems, like the Nintendo Switch
  7. 500-piece puzzle of something they enjoy (Star Wars, Avengers, etc)
  8. Headphones
  9. Aloe for when they “didn’t need sunscreen”

Hotel Room or Condo Extras

We always pack some extras of these items because even “included” items run out. Many properties won’t replenish these once gone and it will save you a trip to the store. 

1. Dishwasher detergent

2. Laundry detergent if applicable

3. Extra toilet paper

4. Extra paper towels

5. Kitchen Trash Bags

6. Paper plates and solo cups to save you from doing so many dishes

The Best Beach Packing List for Family Vacation

You’re well on your way to creating lasting memories on your family beach vacation. I hope my packing list has helped you feel better prepared. From sun protection to beach games, these essentials ensure that you’re fully prepared for a day of sun, sand, and smiles. So, pack your bags, soak up the sun, and enjoy quality time with your family on the sandy shores. Your beach adventure awaits!

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Rachel is a Postpartum Nurse of 15+ years. She is also a Spinning Babies® CPE, Childbirth Educator, Published Author, and Recipe Creator. Rachel's passion is to encourage and empower women in all things related to motherhood.

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