Summer is built for beach time, something I’m hoping to squeeze in next week on Virginia’s beautiful Eastern Shore. Packing for a summer beach trip, whether driving or flying, can be stressful since it’s all about what you bring, unlike other destinations where it’s all about where you are. Aside from the obvious items, like beach towels and a swim suit, here are 10 summer beach items to pack.
Sunscreen is essential for all summer activities and typically I’m a fan of the aerosol sprays (so I can get my back while traveling solo!). However, when flying, it’s not always practical to bring a normal bottle of sunscreen.
Solid sunscreen is a great solution. Make sure that your beach sunscreen is specifically formulated to be water resistant. I love Neutrogena’s “Beach Defense Stick”, but if you’re the type of person who doesn’t sunbathe inbetween dips in the ocean you might want something that applies on wet skin.
Bonus tip: If you want to bring along liquid sunscreen for roadtrips and/or in TSA-approved amounts for flying, make sure it’s in a Go-Toob that doesn’t leak or is packed in a Ziploc bag. I’ve had sunscreen leak all over my suitcase before and it’s a mess to clean up!
My husband hates sand, which is one of the reasons we never hit the beach together. The easiest way to get it off your body quickly is actually by using baby powder! If you sprinkle it on, the sand falls right off your feet, ankles, and other parts of your body so you don’t track it into your rental car or hotel room.
If you’re like me and get overwhelmed while shopping in the baby department, just remember…any brand will do, so you can get in and out quickly!
Waterproof Bluetooth Speakers
Take your favorite music to the beach this summer with a waterproof Bluetooth speaker. Many of them have a wireless connection range around 30 feet and a battery life of up to 12 hours – enough to enjoy your favorite tunes all day at the beach.
Why I recommend upgrading from the $20 version you can find anywhere:
- you still want great sound quality!
- a sand-proof version is even better
- an all-in-one that you can use at home, too, will save you money in the long run
Beach towels are big and bulky, so I never pack one when I’m flying. When my sister and I went to Hawaii, we used hotel towels as often as possible, but if we were in-between properties, I relied on my microfiber towel.
These are basically soft shammies that pack up into a compact size, absorb water better than a regular towel, and dry quickly — so you can stick them in your suitcase for a flight last-minute.
Reusable Water Bottle
Whether traveling by plane or taking a road trip, a reusable water bottle is an absolute must. Not only is it good for the planet, it’s cheaper than buying bottled water from convenience stores or beach vendors.
My sister got me a reusable bottle with a built in infuser last Christmas, and it makes water so refreshing that you won’t have to try hard to hydrate! If you’re stopping at a grocery store to stock your beach condo (or roadtripping from home), pack a few extras to infuse in your water.
My Favorite Infusion Recipes:
- Cucumber + mint, for a super-refreshing chill
- Grapefruit + rosemary, which is mellower than lemon (and rosemary is a natural skin tonic if you got a little too much sun!)
Okay, so you have the music and I’m sure you have cold drinks, so now it’s time to pull out the cards. Playing card games is more my speed than beach volleyball, so pack along a deck of plastic Uno cards or a standard deck and start up a game.
I actually love the beach waves I get in my hair from saltwater and an ocean breeze, but if you do it for more than a day or two, it will wreak havoc on your hair.
There are a variety of hair products available designed specifically for the beach, including special shampoos and conditioners or a leave-in spray to protect hair from UV rays. If you’re at the beach all week, they are worth the price…for two or three days, just be sure to condition extra or give yourself a coconut oil treatment.
My secret tip: If there’s a beauty school in your city or where you’re traveling to, book a deep conditioning treatment for when you get back. It’s a spa-like experience and if you get it with a student, it can be less than $10! Since it’s not a permanent cut or color, their “lack of experience” isn’t an issue.
I pack light and everything fits in a beach bag…unless it’s a day trip to Virginia Beach. Then we’ve got beach chairs, a cooler, and pretty much anything else we can scrounge up. And we’re also too cheap to pay for parking that’s near the beach itself.
Enter the beach wagon! Load it up and wheel it to wherever you need to go. It works way better than a rolling cooler since it’s built for sand and it folds down so you can actually store it at home in-between trips.
Yes, that’s right. Pack a pair of underwear for the beach! It sucks heading out to lunch or grabbing a sundowner while wearing wet bathing suit bottoms, so having dry, clean underwear makes a big difference!
After you’ve baby powdered the sand off, discretely change under a towel, sundress, or beach tent (or I suppose you could find an actual changing room) and you’ll feel a million times better.
Bonus Tip: If you store your cell phone, cash, and credit cards in the pockets of your anti-theft underwear, it’s hidden enough that no one will walk off with it. After all, who wants to rummage through your underwear?! Read more about my travel panties.
Better than Aloe
I love pretty much everything made by Sierra Sage since it’s all-natural treatments. Their “Green Goo Skin Repair” has Aloe and Vitamin E, plus other essential oils. It goes on light (not greasy!) and instantly relieves sunburns. Since it’s a solid salve, no issues when flying either.
I’ve also been known to use it after a short night’s sleep. I have no idea why it works, but it gets rid of puffy under-eyes better than any concealer I’ve ever used.
Oh, wait? You didn’t know I love my Kindle? There’s something ultra-relaxing about reading on the beach and there’s no sunglare when you read on a Kindle compared to a tablet. (Seriously, at $59, it’ll pay for itself in no time so buy one now).
But just to be on the safe side (especially if you’re floating on a tube while reading!), a waterproof case is the way to go. I don’t have one for my Kindle yet — although my birthday is coming up — but this one has great reviews and doesn’t look as cumbersome as the plastic bag designs.
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Share your suggestions!
What items do you always pack on a summer beach trip?
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Check out my favorite beach destinations! (all posts open in new window)
- I Found Paradise on Hong Island: One of the most beautiful places in the world, this Thailand beach was my favorite part about visiting Ao Nang.
- Exploring Kamenjak National Park: My girls’ getaway to Slovenia and Croatia was one of my favorite trips of all time. Even though Slovenia was the highlight, the beaches at Kamenjak in Croatia were a fun day.
- Falling in Love With a Beach I Never Heard Of: Siesta Key, FL never made my radar until I “had” to visit for a wedding. It’s low-key and not sightDOING-friendly, but if you want somewhere quiet and beautiful with great shells, it’s perfect.