I am a beach girl and we go many, many times a year, throughout the year. It’s one of the great things about living in Texas and close enough to Florida, both of which are seasonable year-round for beach fun!
This is my packing list for going to the beach. We don’t always take ALL of it, but it’s my first resource for planning a trip to the beach! As much as I love traveling, I’m not a big fan of packing, especially when I procrastinate and feel the anxiety of forgetting something, so this helps me!
It’s also changed a lot through the years, because what you need as a mom of 3 young children is a lot different than when traveling with teens or as we have aged. For example, we use to have 5 beach chairs, in varying sizes for us and the kids. Beach chairs are very low to the ground for some reason. I actually googled it and read that it’s for more stability in the sand. I’m not sure about that. But as our children have grown, we moved away from the cute Nemo-themed chairs to 5 bulky “beach” chairs, to very expensive with no reason beach chairs that fold up very small because we needed the extra room in the car, to today when we just pack regular collapsible camping style chairs that honestly, just aren’t as hard to get out of! I’ve found that I like putting them just a little ways out in the waves so I can enjoy the water. And here’s a great tip, any chairs that you put on the sand or salt water aren’t going to last very long. Try to rinse those off as you leave the beach, but it’s crazy to buy expensive chairs for the beach.
I’ve also tried to source as much of this list as possible, and of course, that changes often. Some of the items are from Amazon or Walmart, etc. and some I receive a small commission as an affiliate at no additional cost to you if you purchase using my link. So, Thank You in advance! I do always try to make you aware of these affiliate links, also.
Last but not least, this is pretty much JUST for what to take to the actual beach, not for your entire vacation. You might need a cute dress for dinner out, but that’s not going to be on this list. Thanks again for reading and I hope it helps you enjoy your time on the beach!
My 2023 Beach Packing Guide
Beach Tote– It helps me to keep my car organized but putting as much as possible in totes with labels. They usually stay in the car, not down to the sand. We’ve evolved a lot on the type of totes we like, but we currently use the Tough Box 27-gallon black totes from Sam’s Club, although I loved our Plano storage lockers from Academy, which stacked on top of each other like the Tough Box, but also could be locked with a padlock and had wheels. However, the price point was our big factor for switching, as the Tough Box is about $9-$10, and the Plano lockers are now about $27.
Beach Wagons– While you can just park on the sand at many Texas beaches, some you cannot and not at all in Alabama or Florida, so a beach wagon to haul your stuff and sometimes your kids is a necessity. Big tires are a must on a beach wagon if you’re pulling through thick sand, such as in Gulf Shores, Alabama! While we’ve gone from the big plastic Radio Flyer that took up the entire back of our Suburban, to much more compact ones, these are our current favorites; the Navatiee Collapsible Beach Wagon on Amazon (affiliate post) because I like that it collapses, the wheels aren’t ridiculous and all the pockets, and the Great Day Hitch-n-Go Vehicle Hitch-Mounted Cargo Carrier Cart, Powder-Coat Welded Aluminum at Tractor Supply Co. This wagon fits right on the back of our Suburban, and easy take off and go, although it doesn’t swing away from the back like some do, and it makes it impossible to open your tailgate. We even skip the luggage cart at hotels, because we’d never leave this thing outside at night, it cost too dang much!
Chairs- I think we’ve already covered chairs, but they are definitely a necessity at the beach in my opinion!
Shade- Another necessity, but what you take is completely dependent on where you’re going. Pop-ups are usually great in Alabama and Florida, (but it does get windy there, too) but it’s just too windy on most Texas beaches! I like the Crown Shade Pop-Up from Amazon (affiliate link) because it has attached sand bags and it’s easy to put up. We have a basic Nautica beach umbrella from Sam’s Club that is just big enough for my husband and me. I found this little Ammsun hook (affiliate link) from Amazon that fits on the umbrella to hang towels, speaker, etc. However, my go-to is an old Oileus shade I bought on Amazon in 2019, but now discontinued. I’m planning to review a few early this Summer, including the Tik-Tok famous Shibumi Shade (affilite link) and will update.
Beach Blanket– Also a must on the beach, we have 2 from Amazon that I love but have also been discontinued. Amazon does have plenty of similar options, but what I loved about ours is the sand pockets at the corners to help hold it down. It should also easily release the sand when you’re done.
Beach Towels- We have so many beach towels that I felt rather silly buying 2 Sand Cloud Turkish Beach Towels (affiliate link) for our Myrtle Beach trip this Summer, but I love the Whale Shark designs, and since we’re stopping at the Georgia Aquarium on our way to snorkle with their whale sharks, it just seemed like a must!
Towel Clips- I’ve never been a big fan of towel clips, and to be honest, I usually make my kids leave their towels in the car so they aren’t covered in sand, however, if you’re at a resort or a different situation, they can come in very handy, but my kids and husband play with them until they break! This Summer we’re trying these Towel Bands (affiliate link) from Amazon that hold your towel in place without the clips!
Something for a Quick Change- If it’s not too windy, and we are parking on the beach, this little Portable Pop Up Pod (affiliate link) is perfect for changing into or out of your swimsuit! My husband loves, and I mean loves, this Surf Pancho (affiliate link), and wears it even when he’s not surfing, or changing his clothes.
Ice Chest- This is of course decided by how many of you there are, how long you’re going to be on the beach and how it will be transported. I’m also terrified of the thought of someone stealing our $500 Yeti cooler while we’re all down the beach staring at a crab. We have an inexpensive Igloo cooler on wheels we usually take to the beach, fill it with water, drinks, and fruit to keep everyone hydrated. I don’t like sand as a seasoning so I rarely eat much at the beach. My husband loves to grill shrimp or fresh fish on the beach, so sometimes we take 2 coolers, a cheap insulated bag for food and one for drinks and fruit.
Beach Bag- It’s a must that I frequently forget, because you already have so many bags for your vacation, then we have to stop and buy one for the beach, which is why I have so many. The best ones are mesh in my opinion, so anything wet can drain out. And lots of pockets, like this one from Easyfun (affiliate link) on Amazon.
Personal Safe- My very favorite Summer accessory, this little Master Lock Personal Safe (affiliate link) from Amazon gives me peace of mind while at the beach, lake or waterpark! It fits my keys, a credit card and phone, and I can attach it to my chair and cooler so it’s hopefully not going anywhere! I’ve tried many similar brands, and this is my favorite!
Portable Power Bank- I take a ton of pictures on the beach, and I like to use my phone because of how easily they link up to my online photo albums, so I always have a low battery. I love this iWalk Mini Portable Charger (affiliate link) from Amazon, that attaches to my iphone without a cord, so I can keep playing and taking pictures while it charges!
Waterproof Phone Case- At $6.99, this Magellan Waterproof Phone Case from Academy is a deal!
Water Proof Camera and cord- I love my Ricoh WG-80 Waterproof Camera (affiliate link) that I’ve had for a few years now. It’s great for sunny beach pictures! My GoPro and I have a love-hate relationship, but it’s a must for great underwater or waterline beach pictures! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve packed all the accessories for it, except the charging cord!
Speaker- Our JBL Speaker (affiliate link) goes everywhere with us, so it’s a must at the beach!
Beach Shoes- One of my favorite feelings in the world is sand between my toes and warm water rushing over them, so I’m not much help here, but I do always pack a pair of inexpensive flip flops to wear on hot sand and in the restroom or way back to the car. Inexpensive because sometimes I leave them right at the edge of the sand, or my kids leave them too close to the water and when the tide comes in, all we can say is at least they were inexpensive.
UPF shirt- No matter how much sunscreen you put on, at some point you just need out of the sun! A good UPF shirt can be a lifesaver! We often buy them at the beach with the beach name as a fun souvenir.
Hat- Big, floppy beach hats usually just fly off my head, so I really like baseball or trucker caps, and this cute Boderier Bucket Beach Hat (affiliate link) from Amazon.
Sunglasses- Usually an older pair because they always get lost!
Sunscreen- I buy and pack it in abundance, so I like the deals at Sam’s Club on Banana Boat.
Chap Stick- Another must for the beach!
Aloe Vera Afterburn- Hopefully, you won’t need this, but we always pack it just in case.
Insect Repellent- Mosquitos come out on the beach at dusk, so if there’s any chance you’ll be there then, pack some! But products like the Thermocell Mosquito Repellent, (affiliate link) while good by a pool or lake, just don’t work when it’s windy, so leave those at home.
Disposable Wipes- I just always pack wipes, they’re great for getting sand out of eyes, etc.
Plastic bags- for trash and wet swimsuits, etc. Pack a couple
Collapsible Bucket- Great for rinsing off feet or building sand castles! I like these from Autodeco (affiliate link) from Amazon.
Life Jackets- Until my kids were 10, they were almost always in a life jacket, not floaties, not puddle jumpers, but life jackets at the beach.
Water Toys- Even as young adults, my kids still love to play in the water! These 3-pack Water Blaster (affiliate link) set is a must each time we go to the beach or lake!
Beach Toys- I always pack a football and/or a frisbee for the beach! My youngest always takes a few sand toys to build a sandcastle, too. Beach Paddleball is a fun game for 2 or 4 players which try to keep the small ball in play with wooden paddles. We have the Sun Bum Beach Paddleball Set (affiliate link). Look on YouTube for some videos to get a better idea of how to play!
Kite- I love kites flying on the beach! I also really enjoy beach stores so we often visit a local beach store and pick up another kite! We don’t take our drones to the beach, it’s just too windy!
Body Boards (Boogie Boards)- If you’ve ever said you don’t enjoy Body Boards, it’s because you’ve probably never had the right size board for you (or just a really cheap kids one). Body Boards are for riding the waves in a prone (on your stomach) position, or kneeling or standing. I’m just a prone rider, but it’s so fun! While you can buy really good, expensive body boards, I like the Aquarm Body Boards (affiliate link). My boys are tall, and I use their boards, so we have the 37″.
Skim Boards- Like Body Boards, Skim Boards can be really expensive, but we have a ton of fun on our Lucky Bum Skim Board (affiliate post). Again, my boys are tall so we go with the 39″. And when I say “we have a ton of fun” what I mean is they do it and I have fun laughing when they fall! I’m too old for that! Here’s a tip, some beaches are just not good for skimboarding, so do a little research before you pack them.
Floats- Depending on the location, sometimes we take floats. Most Texas beaches are not good for floats because of the waves, but bay beaches like North Beach in Corpus Christi or Rockport Beach, and Gulf Shores, Alabama which is usually very calm, are great beaches for floats!
Hibachi Grill– As I mentioned, my husband loves grill on the beach! He used to buy a very cheap, disposable grill at Walmart, which was great IMO because it was always nasty and we could just throw it away after eating all the sand covered food! Anyway, we always pack his not-disposable hibachi, but he doesn’t love it. We also pack the charcoal, lighter, skewers, oil, lemon-pepper seasoning, paper towels, etc. There is also a selection of disposable grills on Amazon, but I’ve never used any of them.
Dogs Stuff- Our dogs love the beach! Be sure to bring a bowl for fresh water and don’t let them drink the salt water.
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