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Vacation Packing and Beach Must Haves

It’s vacation time!  Beach or city or mountains it does not matter because when June hits everyone is ready to get out of town.

It’s the same for us too.  I am going on a short girls weekend TODAY and our family has been talking about where we want to go this summer too.  Big surprise…  they want to go back to the Margaritaville and I’m kind of ok with it.

But with vacation comes packing and laundry which are the not fun parts about traveling.  The benefit is that with a little planning you can get ahead of it and then it won’t be such a chore when you come home.  This post is dedicated to all things vacation with my packing 101 suggestions and then my list of must have beach items.

So let’s get started…

Packing 101

To Suitcase or Not to Suitcase.

If you are flying anywhere you can ignore this one.  My option for packing for road trips won’t work for flying.  A few years ago a friend made a suggestion to me that has changed the way I pack.  Rather than loading suitcases in the SUV that don’t fit together perfectly we started packing in rectangle Rubbermaid containers.  The benefit is that they fit together perfectly and you can also use them for things like food and toiletries without having to worry about something spilling on your clothing.  When we unload at the condo all we have to do is take the containers out and distribute to each room.  Often we just slide the kitchen one into the pantry and don’t even bother to unpack.

Packing Matrix – What Do You Really Need?

It’s important to start thinking about where you are going, when you are going and what you will be doing, weeks in advance of your trip.  This limits you forgetting something or having to do a last minute shopping trip for a dress or swimsuit.

So how does the matrix work?  I will give you a few examples based off 5 day trips and locations…

5 days at the beach.  7 outfits: 4 for nights and 3 day outfits, 2 bathing suits, 2 cover-ups, 2 pajamas, 2 pairs of shoes, hat

5 days in the city. 6 outfits for the day, 3 dressy night options, 4 pairs of shoes, 2 pajamas, 2 bags

5 days in Europe. 6 tops, 2 shorts, 2 skirts, 1 pant, 2 dresses or jumpsuits, 2 pairs of shoes, 2 pajamas, hat, 2 bags

Now if you are staying somewhere more days you can add to the outfits based on these numbers.

Packing for Kids.

I keep it simple for the kids too.  I generally pack one outfit per day we will be gone plus an additional one.  If you have a baby or a potty trainer I would plan three outfits per day.  I pack each day in individual gallon Ziploc bags.  Each bag contains the child’s outfit, underwear or diaper and socks if necessary.  I pack them each two or three pairs of shoes in the bottom of the bag.  Two swimsuits, three tees and two sets of pjs.


This is something that is so hard for me to keep minimal because hello I am a girl.  Everyone in our family all have different shampoos and body washes but when we are on vacation we use the same stuff.  I have also been know to, gasp, use the stuff the hotel provides.  Anything to lighten me up especially if I am flying.  We went on a trip last year and stopped and picked up shampoo and body wash when we made a trip to the grocery.  Travel sized items are your friends with lotion, deodorant and toothpaste.  Don’t bother with the containers you fill up because it is usually a waste.

For makeup and makeup brushes I try to plan ahead.  If I know we will be going out at night and I will need to do a really good night look I will bring just about all that I have.  If I know we will mostly be at the beach then I only pack basics (cc cream, powder, blush, mascara, eyebrow pencil and highlighter).  Sunscreen and a light moisturizer is always a must.

Getting Back Home.

If we are flying I will repack our suitcases, one with dirty clothes and one with clean clothes.  If we are doing a road trip I will bring a laundry bag.  I am sure some of you will say that if you have a condo you can do laundry before you come home but I am 100% on vacation when we are on a trip so no laundry for me.  I would rather do it when I get back than worry about it when we are there.

Sandy Sandy Sandy.

What do you do about the sandy things???  Not a secret that I hate sand.  I really prefer vacations when I can look at the beach but don’t have to go on the actual beach.  It does not matter how long you are out there it gets everywhere.  UGH.  A few things I do to keep the sand out of my house as much as possible.  First, we vacuum the car on the way home from vacation.  Second, I pack all the clothes and towels that have been to the beach in a separate laundry bag.  Third, I unpack all of the suitcases in the garage so I can shake them out then I bring them into the house.  Last, I vacuum the suitcases out and then bring the car to be vacuumed again too.

Must Have Beach Items

  • Beach Blanket.  Bigger than a beach towel and usually waterproof.
  • Beach Towels:  As annoying as it is you need one for each person.  So Dumb but essential.  Why do kids want to be dry?
  • Ice Chest: Don’t overcomplicate it.  Bring the essentials.
  • Toys:  This is so you might be able to get a few minutes of silence.
  • Dry Bag / Wet Bag:  Concept is simple.  Wet bag keeps the wet things and the dry bag keeps the dry things dry.
  • Sunscreen: In a family of tanners Big Daddy needs the sunscreen.  So does Pops.  Everyone gets it but those two BURN.
  • Sunglasses:  Cannot see anything without them.
  • Swimsuit: Duh.
  • Cover Up: In case you want to beach lunch.
  • Sandals:  The board walks and sand can be hot.  No matter how close you stay it is a good idea to have a pair on hand.
  • After Sun:  ALWAYS.  Because someone always has some kind of weird burn.
  • Hat:   Because they are cute.  The End.
  • Chair and Umbrella: Rent it!  There is nothing I hate more than carrying everything to the beach.

Let this guide take a load off your mind so you can enjoy your trip and have one less thing to worry about.  Soak up that sun and fun!



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