A beach trip is normally a family favorite as it allows everyone to sit back, relax, and enjoy nature. However, knowing what to put on the packing list for a beach trip can be a challenge, especially if kids are going to be in tow. Below are my must-have items.

Beach Trip Packing List Must-Haves

Sand-Free Mat

Sand-Free Mat: Packing List for Beach trip
I was impressed by how little sand was on the sand-free mat.

A sand-free mat should be the first thing on your packing list for a beach trip. When I say this mat was a game changer….Geez-O-Pete! For my twin’s third birthday we celebrated at Siesta Beach in Sarasota on a very windy day and there was little to no sand on the mat. The mat isn’t one of those that allow sand to fall through the mat, as there were mixed reviews on that kind. This one is basically made of material that doesn’t allow sand to “stick” to it. So you can simply wipe off any sand that gets on it. Plus, it comes with anchors and weightable pockets to keep the mat in place on windy days. 

By the way, not only is Sarasota home to some of the most beautiful beaches, there is also an endless list of kid-friendly activities. Check out my “Things to do in Sarasota with kids” post for ideas.

Collapsible Beach Wagon

Beach Wagon for kids
We used the beach wagon as transportation in the airport and at our excursions.

As you can see from the list, there are a decent amount of things to put on your packing list for a beach trip, especially if you’re going with kids. Normally there is a pretty decent walk to get to the beach itself, even if you’re staying at beachfront lodging. The last thing you want is to wrangle your kiddo while your hands are full. 

Make sure to get a wagon that is specifically made for the beach. These wagons have wheels large enough to maneuver through sand. This wagon is similar to the one I purchased at Home Goods.

Pro Tip: If your kiddo doesn’t want to walk, you can always put them in the wagon along with some of your stuff. It’s also a great way to transport them through the airport and other excursions. 

Kid’s Life Jacket

Kids Life Jacket: Packing List for Beach Trip
The boys LOVE their life jackets. They go up to 50lbs.

If your kiddo loves to explore the water, definitely put a life jacket on your beach trip packing list as most beaches do not provide them. They make life jackets with all kinds of popular characters. My boys have the Paw Patrol-themed life jackets and they love them. I bring them on every trip where we might go into water. 

Beach Towels

If you’re staying at a resort or vacation home, they will most likely provide beach towels so you don’t necessarily need to put them on your packing list. However, I really love the kid’s hooded beach towels. They convert into backpacks for easy transportation – and anything that makes traveling with kids easier is a win in my book!  


Beach Packing List: Sunscreen
Do you think Jam has enough sunscreen? Thanks Dad!

When planning a day in the sun, sunscreen is a must have. Of course you can purchase it once you get there. Just be sure not to forget!

Water Shoes

Their Crocs came in handy when I realized the beach was rocky and we didn’t have water shoes.

I learned my lesson the hard way on this trip. The beach was really rocky – fortunately, I had packed the boys’ Crocs which stayed on with the backstrap. Unfortunately, I only had slides which kept coming off in the water.

It may be wise to do a bit of research on the beach you’re planning to visit as some can be a bit rocky. Water shoes help maximize your comfort and fun at a rocky beach, especially if you or your kiddo is the type of person that doesn’t like the feeling of things under their feet.

Change of Clothes

A day at the beach normally means you’ll get wet, sweaty, or full of sand. No matter which category you may fall in, the last thing you want is to bring any of the above back with you. Having a change of clothes, or a coverup at the minimum, gives you a bit of comfort for your return journey. 

Insulated Tote 

Packing List for Beach Trip: Insulated Bag
This insulated tote kept our drinks cold on a hot beach day.

Nothing is better than a cold beverage on a hot beach day. Although it may be challenging to pack a cooler in your luggage, an insulated tote will keep your beverages cold while not taking up too much space in your luggage. 

Nice-to-Have Items

Beach Chairs

Bringing a beach chair is pretty much impossible to pack for a flight. However, if you’re driving, consider bringing them if you prefer not to lay on the beach mat or you don’t want to rent one. This compact chair can be carried rather comfortably.

Beach Umbrella or Tent

If you’re planning on spending long hours lounging at the beach during the heat of the day, you may want to prioritize adding a beach tent on your packing list. After a few hours of play everybody will be scrambling for the shade! Although the standard beach tent may be challenging to travel with, they do make some beach tents that fold up pretty small.

Portable Waterproof Speaker

Thanks to technology, speakers nowadays are rather compact and can easily fit in luggage. If you plan to get close to the water, it may be wise to get a waterproof speaker. 

Infant Beach Trip Packing List

Swim Diapers

Trust me, don’t forget to put swim pants on your beach trip packing list. The last thing you want is for your kiddo to be the one with a bubble-butt because you forgot swim pants and your kid had to go into the water with regular diapers. Let’s just say the material they use in regular disposable diapers swell in water and could swell to the point where it makes a giant, jelly-like mess. (I know from experience!)

If you choose reusable swim diapers, bring more than one pair in case your child has a bowel movement.

Sun Hat

Packing List for a Beach Trip: Sun Hat

Infant skin is pretty sensitive and can be easily irritated by the sun. Head and face protection from the sun is so important, especially at such a young age. Also, perfect beach trips can be seriously dampened by sunburn. Don’t risk it!

Toddler Beach Trip Packing List

As the kids get older, keeping them entertained at the beach becomes a bigger hurdle. Many toddlers can spend hours playing with beach toys like shovels and buckets, along with kites. As they get older, many like to play football, frisbee, and other similar activities. 

If your kid loves water and you’re visiting a saltwater beach, goggles could come in handy. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, the items I’ve recommended have made my beach trips with the twins much easier, but it could be different for you. As you’re preparing for your own trip, prioritize what you think you’ll actually use and enjoy, and don’t stress about the rest. Consider the items that will help make your trip feel less stressful so you can focus on creating memories. At the end of the day, you’ll be laughing with your kids in the sun, sand, and beautiful ocean – and that’s what matters.

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