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Do you like to take the family on a beach vacation? I love hanging out for the day on the beach but hate getting it all together. There always seems to be something we forget. (Recently it was towels, really?) I put together a full list of everything you need from hacks, snacks, and packs, for a successful family beach vacation.
If you’re wondering what do I need to bring to the beach or on a beach vacation, start with this handy list of beach hacks. Most of these items are easy to pack if you’re flying somewhere warm. I do have alternatives for the bigger items listed here too.
Family Beach Vacation Hacks
The following are a list of the family beach vacation hacks we’ve developed over the years that make our day more comfortable and easier.
Get a vinyl blanket just to put on the sand. If you can find an oversize one, the bigger the better. One, it’s more room for you on the blanket, and two, it gives you more personal space so that people don’t encroach on your space. This one is my favorite because it has stakes and sand anchors.
Baby powder is essential when we go to the beach. Did you know that a little baby powder helps get the sand off of your body before you get back in the car?
Swim Shirts & Hats
Why are swim shirts, or rash guards, a hack, you ask? Because it’s fewer body parts that have to be covered in sunscreen. If you start the kids wearing these young, they will be used to it and prefer it for coverage. I mean, wear a shirt and go hit the waves sooner? You bet!
A Mesh Bag
A mesh bag is essential to put your sandy and wet clothes in. Bring along a tote too if your items are going directly from water to bag. Otherwise, just the mesh bag will do. This helps shake out the sand.
A hair detangler spray is helpful to comb out all the tangles that are bound to happen from in the water.
If the beach is full of rocks, shells, or mucky sand, you’ll be grateful for water shoes. Speaking from experience, I have cut my heal on rocks before.
Even if your phone is water-resistant, a waterproof pouch for your phone is still handy. One, I like the lanyard style so you have one less thing to carry. And two, these help keep the sand out of all the nooks and crannies as well.
Know the Tides
Consider where the tide comes in so you know where to set up on the beach. There’s a Tides App for your phone so you know when high and low tide is. Want more apps for your trip? Get my full planning list here.
Family Beach Vacation Snacks
You’re in the sun all day, playing and getting dehydrated. You need snacks. Pack your family favorites, of course, but here are a couple of suggestions.
- Individual snack packs, pre-bought or individually packaged. That way if you do get sand in the food, it’s one small serving and not the whole bag of chips. Also, make sure it’s not a melting snack.
- Fresh Fruit – freeze grapes and they’ll be a refreshing snack.
- Water – Get a 5-Gallon Sports Jug and refillable water bottles so that you’re not wasting plastic.
- Pepperoni or Salami, and crackers – makes for a good lunch instead of sandwiches that could get soggy.
A soft-sided cooler is great for snacks. You can get a backpack style to make carrying easier. When done with the food, it’s lighter and easier to trudge back home after a full day in the sun.
Packs – How to Get Your Gear on the Beach
The following are the list of things that are helpful to pack for your family beach vacation.
Have you seen those wagons parents bring to their kids’ sporting events? They’re collapsible and have a nice sturdy basket to hold everything. Search for one that has wider, all-terrain wheels and it’s good for the beach as well. Dinky tires do not work well on the sand, you want to pay the extra for the wider tires. This one is well-reviewed on Amazon and folds up nice and small.
Since the wagon is collapsible, it can be gate checked on the plane, should you decide to bring it with you. Think of how strollers are checked and this would be similar.
Alternatively, check out Baby Quip for gear rental and consider seeking out another parent that offers wagons as part of their rentals.
With or without a wagon, a beach tote is a good idea to pack for towels, sunscreen, your phone, etc. Again, I like a mesh bag because sand is inevitable.
Sand Toys in a Mesh Bag
Yes, get another drawstring mesh bag just for the sand toys. You’ll likely keep this in storage when not using anyway, so it’s helpful to have something to grab and go.
Reef Friendly Sunscreen
If you’re traveling to the ocean, do the environment a favor and pack reef-friendly sunscreen. Alba is a good brand found in stores, or go for All Good Sport Sunscreen found on Amazon.
You would think this is obvious. Sometimes it’s not. I’ve forgotten these on a trip before!
We prefer a tent for the beach as it’s more coverage than an umbrella. Plus, if you have little ones, it provides more privacy for things like nursing or naps. We have the Pacific Breeze Easy Setup Beach Tent and love it. I notice they have an XL version as well.
If you don’t like sitting on the ground, get a couple of beach chairs. I prefer the backpack style to make it one less item to put in your wagon.
No one wants to travel home from the family beach vacation wet. Don’t forget a set of dry clothes to change into on the way back to your hotel or home.
Older kids will get bored with sand toys. Pack a few games or sporting equipment to play at the beach.