The Ultimate Beach Bag List: What to Bring & What to Leave Behind

The Ultimate Beach Bag List: What to Bring & What to Leave Behind

For the perfect family beach day, you don’t need much, but don’t forget these key items!

By Lorraine Allen

It’s almost beach season, and for many families, especially with kids, it’s the best time of year. What I love most about the beach is that, as a parent, it’s the ultimate place to take your kids for an EASY day of fun. At the beach, you don’t need to do anything, for once, to make sure your kids are happy and busy. There is an endless amount of sand to dig, crawl, and build in. There’s water to splash, swim, and jump in. There is exciting nature to explore and treasures to be discovered. There’s also almost always a nice breeze, the views are magical and dreamy, and there’s lots of opportunity to just sit still and relax. I mean, really . What could be a better way to enjoy a day with kids and all that?

The only thing you need is a well-packed beach bag, and you’re all set. Without this though, you could be in serious trouble. Sunburns and heat stroke are no joke, and dehydration can happen faster than we think on a hot day. Here, the ultimate family beach bag list to prevent you from having to rush off somewhere to buy something you forgot when you should be relaxing with your toes in the sand or floating over silver waves.

1. Sunscreen - If your family is like mine, you might have several different skin types, and even some little ones with sensitive skin, so make sure you’ve tried whatever product you’re bringing before you go to avoid a nasty allergic reaction!

2. Towels - Everyone ideally needs their own towel so they can warm up after a cool dip or lie down and relax in their own space.

3. Cold drinks - A cooler bag with ice packs is ideal, but if you can’t find a small one that fits in your beach tote, consider getting a whole separate cooler, which is also useful for packing a nice picnic meal, so you can all enjoy the beach even longer.

4. Plain white vinegar - This might sound odd, but it’s a great idea to have a small container of plain white vinegar on hand. This pantry item helps instantly neutralize the burning of a jellyfish sting! I got this beach bag tip right from these experts: Lifeguards use it at our local beaches.

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5. Sand toys – or just a bucket or watering can - You really don’t needs lots of sand toys, but a bucket or some sort of empty container (like an empty water bottle or coffee can) makes it fun and easy for kids to collect water and play with it -- the greatest joy of a beach day! (My kid also loves to dig REALLY big holes, so she carries her own large shovel, too.)

6. Flotation devices - These are key for beginning swimmers, but they’re also lots of fun for relaxing in the water. Best of all, they deflate and fold up flat, so they take up no space at all. You don’t want a 50-pound beach bag, after all!

7. Sun hats, sunglasses, and SPF protection shirts - It’s hard to apply and reapply sunscreen, ALL OVER, repeatedly, on a whole family. The cost also adds up, too, and no matter how careful you are, you’ll probably miss a few spots now and then, and it doesn’t take more than 15-20 minutes on a hot day for a burn to begin. Yikes! Protective sun gear like hats, shades, and shirts go a really long way to saving our skin, literally, and are an easy, light way to stay safe and have fun all day in the sun, without burning.


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8. Snacks - Even if you don’t pack a whole cooler or meal, everyone gets hungry at the beach, so be sure to pack some sort of food. Fresh fruit is a perfect snack for the beach, because it’s sweet, juicy, refreshing, and helps rehydrate too.

9. Something to read, or color - A magazine and some paper and crayons encourage kids to take a break at the beach, too. (And don’t forget your own favorite book or magazine!)

10. Baby powder - When you’re ready to head home, dabbing a little baby powder on those sandy feet and limbs cleans them off fast and easily, without a fight or fuss. It’s especially useful for little kids who get covered in sand and don’t like it when you rub it off with a towel that feels rough on their delicate skin!

11. An old, large sheet - These are great when towels have gotten all wet and sandy, especially if you want a dry, clean space to picnic on.

12. A sun umbrella. To enjoy a perfect beach day with your family, don’t forget this for protective and cooling shade.

What other must-haves do you carry to the beach?

Lorraine Allen is a writer, and mom and personal chef to one spunky 6-year-old girl with severe food allergies. You can enjoy their delicious recipes and follow their amusing family cooking adventures at Feeding Lina.

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