The weather is warming up and school is almost out for Summer. For many of us, that means family fun at the beach. So, I’ve rounded up all the beach bag essentials you need for a perfect beach day.
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Beach Bag Essentials
The beach is my happy place. After many trips over many years, I’ve curated a list of beach must-haves. Your list may look a little different than mine, but there are certain items I believe belong on any beach essentials list.
Beach Bag Ideas
First, let’s start with what kind of back is best for the beach. There are so many types and styles to choose from:
- waterproof and sand proof beach bags
- backpack beach bags
- beach bags with built-in coolers
- canvas beach bags
- mesh beach bags
I started out with a mesh beach bag, but I didn’t find it to be very durable. And it always looked dirty on the bottom corners. For the past several years, I’ve used a canvas tote I love both because of the cabana stripe design and durability.
Whichever beach bag you choose, make sure it is large enough to hold your beach bag essentials, easy to carry and durable.
What Should I Put in My Beach Bag?
Beach towels – We bring two beach towels per person. One we usually spread over our beach chairs for drying off after a swim in the ocean. The second beach towel can be used for drying off after you rinse or shower (if the beach you visit has rinse showers or bathrooms with showers), rolled up as a pillow while laying out, or to layout on. I’ve also used my to cover my legs as shield from the sun or just for warmth.
Reading material – We can’t go to the beach without a good beach read. I highly recommend the Sandover Beach series by Emma St. Clair. You could also bring you favorite magazines.
Sunscreen – Our household prefers sunscreens with cleaner, safer ingredients. I really like the Badger brand. They have good options for babies, children, and adults and it can be used on both your face and body. For lips, I recommend a lip balm with SPF, especially if, like me, your prone to fever blisters after prolonged sun exposure.
Pain Reliever – Sun exposure can often lead to a headache. And sunburns are painful. So, we keep a pain reliever on hand just in case.
Aloe Vera & Lavender Essential Oil – We keep these handy just in case of a sunburn. Both have soothing and healing properties. After squirting aloe vera in your hand, add a drop of lavender then apply to the burned area.
Sunglasses – I have prescription sunglasses to protect my eyes from the sun, and so I can enjoy a good book. You could even buy some Dollar Tree sunglasses just for your beach bag so it’s not an expensive loss if they get left behind or lost.
Plastic Bags – We grab a few plastic shopping bags from our stash. We use one to hold trash, plus one per person to store a change of clothes in a plastic bag. At the end of the day, we grab the bag out of the car, and take it to the restroom where we change. Once we change clothes, we use the same plastic bag to hold our wet swimsuits until we get home. You could also use them to hold wet towels.
Swim suit cover-up – My husband just throws a t-shirt on when he’s not in the water. I like to wrap a scarf or sarong up around my waist. I use to bring a cover up dress to throw on if we go out to eat after a day on the beach. But, I never quite felt comfortable enough, so I started bringing shorts to change into. Then I tie my cover up dress at the waist or give it a front tuck into my shorts. That has worked out really well for me.
A change of clothes – As I mentioned, everyone packs a change of clothes and keeps it in a plastic bag. We leave these bags in the car until it’s time to change. This saves space on the beach, and keeps sand from getting on our clean clothes.
Wallet – I prefer to just bring my wallet rather than carrying a beach bag and a purse, or trying to fit my purse into the beach bag with everything else. Having money on hand is nice for chair and umbrella rentals, parking fees, and drinks from the snack bar, or going to dinner after a long day at the beach. It’s also good to have your ID just in case.
Keys – We prefer to keep our car keys with us so we pack them in the beach bag once we arrive.
Phone Charger – A portable phone charger or power pack will come in handy, especially if you use your phone to play music or read.
Snacks and Drinks – Use thermas bottles like a Yeti to keep drinks cool. Pack snacks in an insulated lunch bag. These types of snacks are always enough to always tide us over (no pun intended) until we go to dinner.
Toiletries – Pack travel size soap and shampoo if the beach you visit has a shower. Better yet, use a travel size bottle of Dr. Bronner’s travel size castile soap and use it for both your hair and body wash. If there’s not an option to rinse or shower, pack some wet wipes instead. Also, I’ve heard talcum powder is really good at getting stubborn sand off your body, but I’ve never tried it more myself. Finally, you may want to freshen up with deodorant after a day of sweating in the sun.
Headphones – Sometimes other people’s music, or just the sounds of the ocean can make it difficult to hear your music. A set of headphones or earbuds will let you listen without distraction.
Things to Put in Your kid’s Beach Bag
If you have little ones, here are a few other items to pack in your beach bag.
- kid friendly snacks – Be sure to include snacks they’ll enjoy like raisins, nuts, crackers, goldfish, a sandwich and juice or water.
- sand toys – pack them in a plastic tote bag or tote so you can shake the sand off
- swim diapers if you need them
- water shoes
- rash guards
How to Organize Your Beach Bag
I have a few tips and tricks for packing and organizing you beach bag that will come in handy.
- Pack electronics, like your phone, Kindle or chargers, in plastic baggies or dry bag pouch
- Use clear pouches or larger baggies to store: toiletries, sunscreen, keys & wallet. Use one pouch per category of items. Clear storage allows you to easily see what is in each pouch.
- Prevent sunscreen spills either by putting a baggie over the sunscreen lid and rubber band it in place. Or you could remove the lid, put plastic wrap over the bottle, then replace the lid.
- Keep snacks together in an insulated lunch bag.
- Roll your towels and tuck them in your bag.
- Fold up the plastic sack you’re using for a trash bag and tuck it into a pocket or pouch in your beach bag.
- Place wet wipes in a pocket or pouch as well. Use these to wipe hands before and after eating.
- Save room in your beach bag by keeping everyone’s change of clothes in the car until it’s time to go. Not only does it save space, it keeps sand from getting in your dry clothes. And if you’re using one of your beach towels for drying off after a rinse or shower, I’d go ahead and leave that in the car as well. There should be plenty of room to pack in the same room with your change of clothes. You could even leave the brush and toiletries in one of the change of clothes bags too.
- I’m usually wearing my sunglasses so I don’t pack those. Same with a beach hat if you bring one.
- Roll your cover up inside a towel
Luxury Beach Accessories
These are the items we bring in addition to our beach bag that make our beach trip a little more relaxing and enjoyable.
- Beach Blanket – We set our beach bag on a beach blanket to keep too much sand from getting on the bag and to lay out on. The inexpensive straw mats tear and unravel very easily. So, I recommend a beach blanket instead. You could also use a fitted sheet.
- Beach Umbrella – You can buy an inexpensive beach umbrella (under $30) from Walmart. They last a long time. The only downfall is they aren’t quite sturdy enough for strong winds. The Tommy Bahama beach umbrellas are reasonably priced and get great reviews. Or you could try a beach tent or sun shelter. Whatever you choose, you’ll be glad for the shade, especially later in the Summer when it’s super hot.
- Umbrella Anchor – You’ll need a sand anchor that attaches to the umbrella to secure it into the sand. We bought this metal one from Walmart which has worked well and lasted for several years. Just make sure the anchor you get fits your umbrella.
- Beach Chairs – You can find beach chairs in a range of price points and styles. I recommend getting chairs that recline and that have cup holders. Those two features add a lot of ease and convenience.
The money you spend on a beach umbrella and chairs will be saved many times over in what you would spend on beach rentals. But, owning these beach accessories means having to store them and then having to carry them from the parking lot to the beach and back again. Not to mention setting it all up and taking it down.
The best way to make a decision is based on your budget and lifestyle. If you’re already carrying a beach bag, kid gear and maybe a cooler, you may want the ease of renting.
Where to Store Your Beach Bag
We hang our beach bag on our mudroom wall packed (minus snacks and change of clothes) and ready to go at a moment’s notice. You could keep yours on a hook or in a bin in the garage, on a shelf in the laundry room, or in a bin, on a shelf or hanging in a hall closet.
And, that’s it. You really don’t need designer this or expensive that to have a good time at the beach.
Wishing you many safe and happy beach trips this Summer!