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A beach day with kids can be chaotic and stressful, but a well-planned packing list can help keep things in order. The best way to ensure that you have everything you need for your family’s next beach outing is to plan ahead and create a checklist of essentials before you leave the house.
You want to ensure you have everything your kids need for your family beach day, but you also don’t want to bring too much stuff that you’ll end up carrying around with you all day. The following is an ultimate list of things we recommend when going on a family beach vacation. Everything is lightweight and easily portable, which is perfect because moms only have so many hands!
We love a good checklist (like this one) so we decided to make our own. We took some inspiration from some of our own family vacation mishaps and came up with this handy list of travel essentials to take on family beach trips.
Download your printable beach packing checklist below, so you won’t forget any beach day essentials!
So let’s get started!
Get ready for the ultimate family beach day! These are all compact, lightweight, and easy-to-carry items, so you can pack them up and go. Listed below are our top picks for essential family beach gear, beach necessities for babies and toddlers, and beach-friendly food and drink ideas.
I’ll even share my tips and tricks on exactly how to pack all your family beach day must-haves for effortless portability, so your hands are free to hold onto your little ones.
1. Beach Wagon
The Mac Sports Collapsible Utility Beach Wagon can haul up to 150 lbs. so you can bring all of your family beach day essentials in one trip. We load this one up with our beach tent, chairs, Cooler, snacks, sand toys, and anything else we don’t want to carry. Designed with extra-wide wheels to glide over sand instead of sinking, you can easily transport all of your family’s beach day essentials — minus the back strain. The attached table tray is perfect for keeping your little one’s sippy cup elevated from the sand. At the end of the day, this beach wagon folds up for compact storage in your car or hotel room.
2. Family Sized Tent or Umbrella
Shade is critical for withstanding the sun for an entire day at the beach, especially for little ones to have a cool place to rest, eat, or nap. Before kids, we could spend 8 hours at the beach. This tent was a game-changer for us as parents who could stay longer than one or two hours before the kids were overheated. Now, we can actually get our fill of sun and fun with proper shading!
The Pacific Breeze Easy Up Beach Tent Deluxe XL:
- Weighs only 6 lbs., lightweight, compact design with easy to carry bag
- Quick and easy to set up; comfortably fits 3-4 people
- Internal pockets to store personal items and hooks for hanging towels
- Includes a carrying case, 5 sand pockets for added stability in windy conditions, and 4 stakes
- UPF 50+ protection
For a more compact option, the Sport-Brella:
- Weighs only 8 lbs: lightweight, compact design with easy to carry bag
- Quick and easy to set up
- 8-foot umbrella canopy features UPF 50+ sun and weather protection
- Internal pockets store a phone, snacks, or other gear
- Included Components: Umbrella, Carry Bag, 4 Standard Ground Spikes, 4 Heavy-Duty Ground Spikes, 3 Tie-Down Cords
3. Backpack Beach Chairs
Sitting in a comfortable beach chair is far superior to sitting on the hot sand all day. These five-position backpack beach chairs from Tommy Bahama were a total life-saving addition to our family beach setup. These chairs have three convenient storage pouches, including a cooler pocket, an attached bottle opener, wide comfortable backpack shoulder straps, and only weigh 7.5 lbs. In the cooler pouch, we stuff our chairs with smaller beach essentials like our beach blanket, towels, sunscreen, swim diapers, phones, and snacks or drinks. Our hands are free to guide a wandering toddler to and from the beach safely.
4. Baby & Toddler Beach Chair
When your little ones get hungry, the Summer Pop ‘n Sit SE Booster Chair is perfect for beach snacking and keeping food sand-free! It’s ultra-lightweight at only one lb., includes a carrying case and an easy-to-remove food tray for a big kid activity seat and booster all in one! We got this for our one-year-old, and he still fits at three. He loves having his own “big boy” beach chair.
5. Sand-free Beach Blanket
As any mom who’s taken the kids to the beach, you know full well that they will track their sandy little feet all over your pretty beach blanket or towel. It’s inevitable. How amazing would it be to enjoy a beach blanket that allows sand to blow right off with the breeze? This Sand Free Beach Blanket is nylon, sand-proof, and water-resistant. Its extra-large size comfortably accommodates seven adults and includes six metal sand stakes, four sand or storage corner pockets, and a built-in carrying case. We attach this to our backpack beach chairs with a carabiner, and I’m telling you, you can’t feel the extra weight (it’s only 14 oz.)!
6. Sand-Free Quick-Drying Beach Towels
A regular beach towel gets wet, takes forever to dry, and collects tons of sand. Instead of drying off with a soggy and scratchy towel, the Dock & Bay Beach Towel lightweight beach towel stays soft, dries quickly, and shakes sand right off. It’s compact and lightweight: each towel weighs only 0.8 lbs. The sewn-in elastic loop is perfect for hanging your towel in your beach tent, umbrella, or the back of your beach chair. It’s also 100% recycled material.
You can buy them individually or in the Classic Set of 5 for the entire family!
Keep your drinks ice-cold and beach food fresh for all the yummy beach-friendly snacks you’re bringing for the family. The IceMule is fully collapsible for ultra-lightweight portability and weighs only 2.15 lbs. It holds 20 liters or 18 cans + ice and is leakproof, buoyant, and waterproof, keeping cold for 24 hours to 2 days.
If you’re looking for something bigger, the YETI Tundra Haul Portable Wheeled Cooler has permafrost insulation to keep ice cold all day. Its extra-wide wheels are impact and puncture-resistant and it’s virtually indestructible.
8. Pop-Up Trash Can
As the day progresses and your cooler empties, all of those empty snack wrappers add up! Collect everything and keep the beach clean with an easy Portable Garbage Bin. It’s lightweight at only 2.08 ounces, collapsible, and leak-proof for empty bottles and food waste alike! We clip ours onto a beach chair for convenient trash disposal.
9. Beer Buddy or Hydroflask
You’re beach cooler is great for keeping drinks cold — while they’re in it. Keep your water or adult beverages cold up to 12 hours with the Hydro Flask or Beer Buddy. They’re both designed with double-walled insulation, made to be durable, and are dishwasher-friendly.
The Beer Buddy is one size fits all: capable of accommodating any type of can or bottle – 12 oz., slim, and everything in-between. They’re cup holder friendly, making our metal beer bottle holder perfect for cars, boats, and strollers.
10. Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker
Okay, this one might not be essential per se, but who doesn’t love some happy beach tunes playing as a soundtrack to all the happy family memories you’re making? This portable Bluetooth speaker is durable and shock-proof, waterproof, offers up to 24 hours of playtime, and is ultra-lightweight.
Carabiners are fantastic at maximizing the amount of stuff you can transport to the beach. Clip these 3″ Aluminum D Ring Carabiners onto your backpack beach chairs and attach smaller beach gear. We use these to attach the most compact and lightweight items like our beach blanket, diaper wet bag, and pop-up trash can. The durable aluminum alloy makes them lightweight yet strong, and seriously, it’s the next best thing to growing more hands!
Everyone needs skin protection at the beach. Make sure you get at least SPF 30. Sports sunscreens like Banana Boat and Neutrogena Sunscreen Stick are water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, perfect for splashing around in the water all day.
13. Baby Wipes
A surprising family beach-packing necessity and often overlooked until you’re at the beach trying to clean a poopy little butt not to mention sandy or sticky little hands before eating. Babyganics alcohol-free wipes are plant-based, free of triclosan, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, artificial fragrances, or dyes, and kill 99.9% of germs.
14. Sand Toys with Mesh Carry Bag
The Click N Play 13 Piece Sand Castle Mold Set keeps the kids entertained. This 13-piece sandcastle beach toy set is BPA-free and includes a lightweight mesh carrying bag plus all the classic beach toys: a sandcastle mold bucket plus 5 different shapes of sandcastle molds. You’ll have a chance to finally read or listen to that book you’ve been meaning to start (or finish)!
15. Baby & Toddler Carrier
Strap your baby or toddler onto the front of your body, strap on your backpack beach chair, and go! The Boba Air Baby Carrier is compact, self-storing, and light as a feather – just 0.9 pounds! This infant and toddler carrier for children weighing 15-45 lbs. is equipped with padded and breathable mesh shoulder straps. Additionally, the ultralight nylon material dries quickly, making it perfect for a beach stroll right after swimming!
16. Water Shoes
Hot sand burns feet, especially tender little kiddo feet. Speedo Surfwalker Pro 2.0 Water Shoes protect your toddler’s feet from hot sand and seashells or rocks in the water. They’re comfortable and quick drying. I’m a huge fan; I bought these for my two kids and the adult versions too!
17. Water wings or swim vest for babies and toddlers
Safety first, right? Want to enjoy a day at the beach with one less thing to worry about? Your little one can explore and splash around safely with water wings or a swim vest like the Speedo Baby Swim Infant Life Vest. It’s one size for children less than 30 lbs., U.S. Coast guard approved, and American Red Cross licensed.
For toddlers, ages, 2-4 years (or 33-45 lbs.), we recommend the Speedo Unisex-Child Swim Float Coach Vest has easily adjustable shoulder and side straps for a perfect fit to enhance safety. Speedo brand is a long-standing brand with high ratings, so you can rest easy, momma!
18. Reusable swim diapers and diaper wet bag
Reusable swim diapers are a waterproof and eco-friendly baby must-have that won’t give your baby or toddler that classic saggy diaper look you get with disposables. The ALVABABY Swim Diapers are free of BPA, phthalates, latex, and lead. They’re adjustable for 0-3 years. Pack two so one is always dry, and pop them into the Waterproof Reusable Wet Bag at the end of the day. Dirty diaper mess contained!
In addition to being eco-friendly, reusable diapers will save your family tons of money. Here’s how I saved $3,162 with reusable diapers.
19. Sunglasses for babies and toddlers
Protect little eyes from the sun so they can see that beautiful sandcastle you’re making with them. Baby Banz are shatter-resistant polycarbonate, and the stay-put wrap-around style (recommended by doctors) blocks damaging UV rays from all angles (UPF 50+). We bought these for our son, and as he ripped them off his face throwing them into the ocean, we were pleasantly surprised to learn they float too! So even if they don’t “stay-put” because toddlers have the will of warriors, at least their sunglasses won’t sink to the bottom of whatever body of water you’re enjoying.
20. Breastfeeding Cover
A breathable, lightweight breastfeeding cover-up delivers if you’re a breastfeeding mom at the beach and want some privacy while nursing. BEACH Mandala Baby Nursing Cover offers 360-degree protection from onlookers and doubles as a nice sand-free baby beach blanket for naptimes. Our youngest used this for naptime in our family-sized beach tent from 4 months old until age three.
How to Pack for Your Family Beach Day + Infographic
1. Pack Diaper Wet Bag
First, pack your baby or toddler swim diapers, sunglasses, swim hat, hand sanitizer, or baby wipes into your diaper wet bag and hook it onto the back of your backpack beach chair.
2. Pack Backpack Beach Chairs
Then pack smaller items into the pouches on your backpack beach chairs. Your beach towels, sunscreen, water bottle, and breastfeeding cover-up will all fit perfectly.
3. Use Carabiners
Then hook other items onto your chair using carabiners (they’re a life-saver for maximum hands-free help). We use carabiners to attach our sand-free beach blanket, portable trash can, waterproof Bluetooth speaker, baby/toddler beach chair, and the mesh carrying bag with sand toys.
4. Get Everyone Dressed
Now it’s time to get everyone dressed in their swimwear and water shoes to protect your feet while transporting your ultimate family beach day setup from your car to the beach. You can carry your baby or toddler in the Boba Air Breathable Mesh carrier in front of you while you carry your backpack beach chair on your back.
5. Load up the Beach Wagon
Finally, load up the rest of your beach day essentials that are too large to fit into your backpack beach chairs: Beach tent or umbrella, cooler, and baby/toddler water wings or swim vest. Then head off to the beach for a relaxing, fun-filled (and prepared) family beach day.
It may sound like you’re hauling a lot of stuff, but every item is lightweight and easily portable. You’ll enjoy maximum fun in the sun with your amazing new family beach day set up!
Family Beach Day Food & Drink Ideas
Pack lots of non-messy, age-appropriate snacks and drinks for your kids. We love to get snacks that are not only healthy but easy to eat at the beach, which is challenging when it’s hot, sandy, and wet. So, we usually bring a selection of freshly made fruit, homemade granola, and homemade hummus to pack in our beach cooler. They never complain about having many options and love trying new things!
- white grapes
- baby carrots
- grape tomatoes
- seedless watermelon
- white cheddar popcorn
- rice cakes
- dried fruit
- cliff bars
- string cheese
- Coconut water
- Ice tea
Bring a water bottle for every family member and refill them from a reusable water jug as needed (backpack accessory optional). Not only will they love having their own water to drink, but the water bottle will come in super handy when they get thirsty at the beach. We purchased Hydro Flasks for the entire family.
Pack enough water.
The average adult requires 8 full glasses of water each day as recommended by doctors everywhere. Remember, when you are laying out in the hot sun, your body needs even more water.
- A good tip is to bring a gallon of water per person for the day.
- Use reusable water bottles to cut down on costs and waste.
- You can fill a bottle half way with water and freeze it overnight, this way you will have a cold drink every time you pour water into the bottle over the ice.
- Consider using a water bottle with a filter if you plan to refill your bottle at a water fountain.
- Use a water bottle with double wall protection to keep your water cold.
Enjoy Your Family Beach Day
The beach can be one of the most relaxing places on earth to spend some time as long as you are prepared and know what you need to bring in order to enjoy yourself without any worries. Using our family beach day packing checklist will help ensure that you have everything you need on your family beach vacation. Having the right beach gear, baby and toddler beach must-haves, and beach-friendly foods and drinks will give you a tremendous advantage over other families you’ll see struggling to enjoy a day at the beach with the kids.
Ultimately, being prepared with family beach day essentials makes all the difference between having a stressful day or an amazing day creating memories at the beach with your family.
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