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How Do I Reduce a Beach Vacation Packing List?

A bathing suit, cap and towel might be essentials for a beach visit.
Using resealable bags can keep things organized when packing for a vacation.
Jotting down a list of items needed for a beach vacation is helpful when packing.
It's important to remember the sunglasses when vacationing on the beach.
Flip flops should be included on a beach vacation packing list.
When planning a beach vacation at a hotel, don't bother bringing items like beach chairs and flotation devices that will be provided on-site.
A refillable water bottle can cut down on the number of drinks a person has to bring to the beach.
People flying to a beach vacation should try to pack light and use the laundromat at the hotel.
Sunblock is often a beach essential.
It's important to pack a broad spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
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  • Written By: S. McNesby
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2014
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Making a beach vacation packing list can help you reduce the amount of items you bring from home but save you from leaving essential items behind. Bringing only the items you really need can reduce the amount of luggage you have to pack and haul. If you are traveling by airplane, bringing a minimal amount of luggage can also save you money on transportation fees. Build a beach vacation packing list around things that are daily essentials, like prescription medication; include beach-specific items like sunblock and bathing suits as well.

Creating a list of every item that may be needed is an ideal way to start. A beach vacation planning list should include sunbathing and swimming-related items along with clothing, toiletries, and medications for daily use. Starting with a comprehensive beach vacation packing list allows you to reduce the items you bring without making any last-minute additions. Some beach essentials to remember include swimwear, sunglasses, sunblock, and sand toys. Include items that would go well with any vacation destination, like a camera, reading material, and a cellphone with charger.

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Once a full list is established, it can be edited by removing items that are not essential, are duplicates, or can be found at the vacation destination. If you are going to stay in a hotel, then items like beach chairs, towels, and floatation devices may be available on site. It's worth a quick perusal of the hotel's Web site to determine what items can easily be found at the property.

Booking a hotel room or condo with laundry facilities can help reduce a beach vacation packing list as well. If clothing can be washed and re-worn during the trip, fewer items can be included in the luggage. A room that comes equipped with a hairdryer, iron, or similar personal-care items will help reduce a beach vacation packing list as well.

Packing items that do double duty is another way to cut the total amount you bring to the beach. A sundress can serve as a dress to wear to dinner or as a beach coverup, while a pair of flip flops can be used as shoes for the beach and the mainland as well. When traveling with a family group, sharing items is a great way to reduce a beach vacation packing list. Bring a large single bottle of sunblock instead of several small ones, or pack DVDs that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

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sunshined
Post 15

I like just about any kind of vacation, but a beach vacation has to be my favorite. I think the biggest reason is because it is so relaxing. Some vacations you are running around everywhere and need a vacation when you get home.

When we go to the beach, we really relax and take it easy. I like to travel as light as possible for a beach vacation. One thing I won't be without though is a large mesh beach bag.

I like the mesh bag because the grains of sand that get in the bag will usually fall out, and you aren't tracking as much sand with you back to the hotel.

Anytime we start packing for a vacation, there is an air of excitement around the house. It is always nice to be prepared without taking too much stuff.

bagley79
Post 14

I am a list maker and make lists for just about everything. I start writing out the packing list for my trip weeks ahead of time.

There are so many little things that I think of from time to time, and if I already have a list started I just keep adding to it.

When I am done making my list and begin the actual packing, I go through each item to make sure it is absolutely necessary. I often find that I can eliminate a lot of the items I have written down.

One thing I have slowly learned through the years is to pack as light as possible. I figure most places you go, you can always make a trip to the store if absolutely necessary.

We also have a rule for our kids. They can take what they think they will need, but they have to be able to carry it all themselves. We aren't going to be carrying their luggage and ours too.

golf07
Post 13

Our family tries to take a relaxing beach vacation once a year. We go to different places, but always plan to spend time at the beach playing and relaxing.

One of the best travel packing tips I learned years ago is to keep a master list that I follow from year to year. Not everything is the same every year, but my master list is always the best place to start. That way I don't forget anything major.

I keep this in my file cabinet and make extra copies of it. This list has saved me so much time when I get ready to pack every year. I write notes on my current list to remember to add to next year's list.

orangey03
Post 12

I have found some of the best deals on swimsuits at stores right on the beach. So, I don’t bring one with me.

I also wait until I get to the stores by the shore to buy a beach towel. They have some of the most beautiful, colorful ones I have ever seen, and I buy one each year to use during that vacation and to add to my collection.

While I’m shopping for a suit and a towel, I often see ocean themed home decor that I have to have. So, I end up bringing more stuff home than I left the house with. However, I have a packing method that saves space for these items.

Instead of folding my clothes, I roll them up like cigarettes and fold them in half. Then, I tuck them away in small spaces. This saves a huge amount of space, and it prevents creases from forming as well.

OeKc05
Post 11

After many trips with overstuffed suitcases, I have learned to be brutally honest with myself about what items I will actually use on my trip. I base this on past experience.

I usually bring something to read, but I have found that this is a waste of space. Since I don’t travel alone, I am always distracted by my travel companions and the scenery, and I want to take it all in while I can. So, I leave the books and magazines at home for a rainy day.

I also usually bring more dresses than I need, including ones I never wear. I have decided to stop this and bring only my favorite dresses.

Perdido
Post 10

I try not to be overly prepared for everything when packing. Lots of people bring over the counter medicine, bandages, and sunblock with them, but I prefer to wait until I get there and visit a drugstore for exactly what I need when I need it. That way, if no one needs any pain relievers or itch cream, we don’t have to get any, and that leaves more space in our suitcases that would have been occupied if we had brought them from home.

I know that we will all need sunblock, but I like to buy one big bottle of it once we arrive. We use it all up before we leave, so we don’t have to carry it home.

seag47
Post 9

I used to go grocery shopping for food to eat on my beach vacation and bring it all with me in a big cooler. This made for a very long packing list. I was staying in a hotel room without a refrigerator to save money, so I needed the cooler to keep meat and fruit cool.

The next year, I decided to pay a few extra bucks per night for a room with a fridge. I also decided to reduce my packing list by waiting until I arrived to do my grocery shopping. The store was just down the street from my hotel, so I would not need that big cooler.

I did bring a small cooler along on the trip to carry bottled water onto the beach with and to pack up any remaining groceries not eaten during my stay to take home. However, I saved a lot of space by not bringing the huge cooler, and I trimmed all the food items off of my list.

Moldova
Post 8

@BrickBack - For me, no vacation packing list would be complete without a camera. I have to be able to take pictures while on my vacation. I also try to pack a few weeks before my vacation so that I can get that out of the way.

When I do this not only do I pack more efficiently, but I also never forget anything essential. I hate having to unpack a huge suitcase filled with extra clothes that I never wore when I come back from a vacation. I found that this works for me and makes suitcase packing easy.

BrickBack
Post 7

@Sara007 -I think one of the best ways to prepare for a family beach vacation packing list is to find out what is already available to you so that you won’t need to pack everything.

I rent out my beach condo in the winter and I always supply my renters with beach towels, beach toys, beach chairs and I even offer a gift basket of essentials that include sunscreen as well.

We also have a washer and dryer so this allows the renters to be able to pack a little lighter because they have the opportunity to wash and dry their clothes if they wish. Finding out what the condo or hotel already provides saves you a lot of space in your suitcase for other things that you might want to pack.

manykitties2
Post 6

One of the best things you can bring to reduce a beach vacation packing list is a good-sized sarong. You can use a sarong for many different things if you are a bit experimental.

I have a large sarong that I use as a dress, a beach wrap, and even a blanket if I really need one. Once I even ended up using a sarong as a makeshift beach towel because we forgot to pack ours.

While sarongs are great, just make sure you buy one that isn't too nice. Your sarong is bound to get a bit dirty being used for so many tasks.

Sara007
Post 5

There are few things you can buy that don't come in some sort of miniature or foldable version. One of the best things I found that helps you reduce a beach vacation packing list is to find things that multi-task or are downright tiny.

My kids love their beach toys, and to be honest, they can take up an entire suitcase by themselves if we let them pack whatever they wanted. We have actually found buckets that collapse, so they can be fit into a suitcase easily, and small shovels that fold up. With the versatility of toys that can be made smaller we can easily pack more of what we need to.

truman12
Post 4

Packing good beach foods is a great way to save space in your beach bag. A lot of people want things to snack on when they are out at the beach but they end up carrying tons of food that they don't eat. Be realistic about how hungry you will be and plan accordingly. Avoid packaged foods that come in big pumped up bags. Avoid things that will squish, break or spoil. Finally, try to avoid eating to much salt or sugar, not because it takes up more room but just because it will make you feel sluggish when you are on the beach.

Personally, I love carrot sticks with humus and maybe a piece or pita. I also like to bring along a little honey just for the sweet compliment. Wow, wish I could snack on these on some sunny beach right now.

summing
Post 3

Here is a simple little trick that I have found. When you are on the beach all day in the sun you will usually want to drink water. Many people these days have those plastic Nalgene bottle that holds a quart of water. There are great but they are heavy and bulky to fill up and carry with you.

What I do is just leave mine empty until I get to the beach and then I just find a spot to fill up. While in transport I will store stuff inside the empty water bottle. It might be sun screen or goggles, whatever will fit in and not dirty up the bottle. Its great because you save space and weight and you have one more container to keep small stuff in.

robbie21
Post 2

@MrsWinslow - I'm with you - I *never* check a bag. Under the best of circumstances, it can take half an hour to retrieve it from the carousel. Under the worst of circumstances, you spend half of your first day of vacation shopping for an absurdly overpriced new bathing suit because your bag didn't make it to your destination with you!

Some hotels have small libraries of books that you can borrow for beach reading - worth looking into if you're a big reader. For my last vacation, though, I finally invested in an e-reader. Then I could bring ten or twelve books (I read very fast) and it only took up as much room in my bag as one! And I didn't have to worry I would "run out" of things to read. Really simplified my trip packing.

MrsWinslow
Post 1

If you are prepared to pay extra when you arrive (for rentals, etc.), you can pack even lighter. If you are flying to the beach, packing for your vacation requires you to choose between bringing extra stuff and having to check a bag, or really paring down the list so that you can avoid checking your bag.

If you carry on all your luggage, you will not be able to bring large bottles of sunscreen or aloe. You can either have each family member bring a small bottle, or you can just buy a bottle when you arrive and then leave it behind when it's time to come home.

In addition to chairs, many beaches have umbrellas and "cabanas" available to rent so you do not need to bring one. Besides, the rental-quality umbrellas are much sturdier than anything you cold possibly bring.

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