The Easiest Carry-On Packing List for Your Beach Vacation

by | Aug 19, 2022 | 2 comments

Heading to the beach for a vacation? Don’t forget to pack the essentials! From sunscreen to flip flops, this packing list will help you make sure you have everything you need for a fun and relaxing beach getaway. Plus, with a printable packing list included, you can easily check off items as you pack them into your carry-on bag.

Carry-On Packing List for Beach Vacation [Free Printable]

If the packing list for your beach vacation feels like an impossible task, you came to the right place.

Most people hate packing, and for all different reasons. However, I believe the main reason most people hate packing is because they don’t know where to start.

Looking at an empty suitcase or backpack with just details like the destination, weather and length of your trip as guidance will send you into a tailspin. You end up tearing your closet a part and filling your bag with way more clothes than you need (or your bag will fit).

Fortunately, this packing list for beach vacation makes packing WAY easier by literally telling you what you need to bring—and it’s all based on experience. I’ve taken 10+ beach vacations with just a carry-on bag and never gone without something I need.

Alright, now let’s get your packing done so you’re one step closer to crystal-blue water, swaying palm trees and endless vitamin D. You’ll be laying on the beach with a margarita in hand before you know it!

packing list for beach vacation

Why This Packing List for Beach Vacation?

This beach vacation packing list is ideal for travelers who like to keep things simple and stress free, and are flying to their beach vacation destination, not driving there.

Thinking about the packing for your beach vacation is a lot more stressful than actually packing, which is why I’m going to break it down as simply as possible in this post. To make this really easy we’re going to break your beach vacation packing list up into six groups: clothing, toiletries, electronics, documents, accessories and miscellaneous.

I focus on packing to maximize your relaxation and ability to stay present, and enjoy the outdoors rather than packing “just in case” items, extra outfits and all kinds of items that don’t contribute to your enjoyment on the beach!

beach vacation beach tote

Which Luggage Do I Bring for a Beach Vacation?

A beach vacation is the perfect time to wear minimal clothing and not worry about what you’re wearing, so do yourself a favor and skip packing a full-size suitcase that you’ll need to check. You’ll risk the flight losing your luggage and end up lugging around a lot of weight you don’t need. After all, if you can’t be carefree on vacation, when can you be?

Best Carry-On Bags for a Beach Vacation

Aim for a carry-on bag or a carry-on and personal item.

If you’re heading right from the airport to a resort, I recommend a carry-on size rolling suitcase and a stylish beach bag for your personal item.

If you’re on more of a custom, adventurous beach vacation, I recommend a carry-on size backpack and a stylish beach bag for your personal item.

Also, bring a small cross-body purse for when you’re out and about in your destination. You can just wear it during transit or stick it in your personal item beach tote if you bring one. And don’t forget to use packing cubes to organize your suitcase or backpack! They make it so easy to stay tidy in your hotel room and make packing way easier.

clothing to pack for beach vacation

Beach Vacation Clothing Essentials

Before I share my favorite beach vacation suits, dresses and clothes, this is exactly how many articles of clothing you should pack because it will all fit into a carry-on bag easily:

  • 2 Swimsuits
  • 1-2 Pairs of Underwear Per Day
  • 2-3 Bras
  • 3 Pairs of Shorts
  • 4-5 Tops
  • 2 Dresses
  • 1 Beach Cover Up
  • 2-3 Pair Shoes
  • 1 Rashguard or Swim Shirt

Swimsuits

Make sure to bring two swimsuits on your beach vacations so you always have a dry one and one to wear. I like to bring one that’s great for tanning (I love this high cut thong bikini!) and one that’s more sporty, like this lace-up bikini.

Shorts

Shorts-wise, I recommend you bring one jean, one linen or dressy pair and one pair of exercise shorts. I love these high-waisted jean shorts and these cotton drawstring shorts are so comfortable.

Tops

Since you’ll be spending most of your time on the beach, you can keep it simple with your tops. I recommend sticking to neutral pieces that look good with many bottoms. Consider bringing items like a beige crop topsquare-neck tank and versatile white button down.

Dresses

Dresses are definitely the most fun part of packing for a beach vacation! I usually aim for one nicer dress for dinner and one dress for daytime exploring. Bonus if you’re dress is neutral and can be restyled for multiple wears!

You’ll love this floral halter maxi dress because it’s covers your chest in case you want to keep it out of the sun (or want to hide sunburn!). Or, if you’re going somewhere like Tulum, Mexico, you will love this boho tassle dress! If color is your thing, you must pack this pink and orange cutout midi dress.

Beach Cover Up

Nowadays, beach coverups are so extra they double are real clothes—which I’m VERY happy about! This beautiful floral beach cover up is perfect for the beach but you can totally dress it up. Same with this simple button-down kimono. For something more sporty, go with this blue ruffle dress cover up—you can just throw it on over a wet suit. If you don’t care about being fully covered, these boho mesh tunics are hot.

Sandals & Tennis Shoes

I recommend bringing 1-2 pairs of sandals and one pair of tennis shoes. If you bring tennis shoes wear those during transit to save room in your luggage.

For sandals, the Reef Water Vistas are a must! Why? Because they look good with everything, they’re comfortable, they’re water friendly, they give you height and they float. Need I say more? The Reef Vistas are also an amazing, stylish sandal that’s water friendly.

Tennis shoes wise, you can’t go wrong with a pair of black Adidas. They’re perfect for more active beach vacations when you may be hiking or exploring the town all day.

Rashguard or Sun Shirt

The only thing I hate more than wearing sunscreen is getting sunburnt. That’s why I always pack a rash guard for the beach. It enables me to stay in the sun for hours without getting burnt and it’s a non-negotiable if you’re surfing, kiting or snorkeling. I’ve worn this TSLA rashguard for years and it’s my go-to because it’s SO hard to find rashguards that have a high collar like this one.

beach vacation toiletries to pack

Toiletries to Pack

Sunscreen

Make sure it’s reef safe! Especially if you plan activities like swimming with whale sharks or scuba diving. I prefer zinc sunscreens with none of the toxic chemicals that can cause skin irritation and harm the environment.

Face Wash

Your accommodations likely have shampoo, conditioner and body wash but it’s nice to have your own face wash, especially if you have sensitive skin like me! I love Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser because it’s gentle, affordable and totally non-toxic! It rates 100/100 on the Yuka App which is so rare, and you can pick it up in almost any drugstore.

Shampoo

If you’re extra particular about your shampoo or know your accommodations (like a hostel) won’t provide it, I’d bring your own. My favorite is Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo by Shea Moisture because it’s non-toxic, color-safe and makes your hair smell amazing! All the other natural-ish shampoos leave my hair feeling so greasy but this one doesn’t.

Body Soap

Believe it or not I usually travel with a small bar of soap or travel-size Dr. Bronner’s soap. I don’t always love the quality of the soaps provided in hotels and Airbnbs so it’s nice to have something I know my skin likes.

Body Oil or Lotion

Perfect for keeping your skin hydrating and moisturizing sunburnt skin. I put organic, cold-pressed coconut oil in a little leak-proof tube.

Minimal Makeup

Pack as minimal makeup as possible. It saves space in your toiletry bag and you’re likely only going to wear makeup in the evenings. You can rock a beachy, light makeup look for dinners and, of course, your tan!

Razor

Unless you use a razor with no moisture strip like Crazors Disposable Razors, it’s pretty hard to find a completely non-toxic razor. The least toxic I’ve found is Billie Razors. They work well, come in bright colors and you get a magnetic holder!

Or if you have really sensitive underarms (like me), you’ll love Flamingo Body Wax Kit. I’ve been using these strips to wax my underarms for more than a year. It’s saved me tons of money and trips to the salon because one $15 box lasted me almost a year! I recommend buying the body wax kit because you can simply cut the body-size strips into smaller ones for your underarms.

Hair Ties & Clips

Hair supplies are crucial when you’re in the sand, sun and water at the beach. Adding a KAXI Hold Everything Claw Clip to your bag will be a total lifesaver. You can quickly pull your hair into a French twist and clip it in to keep it off your neck when you’re sweating, while still looking like a class act. I love this clip in particular because it holds ANY hair, no matter how thick!

Supplements or Medication

Aside from your usual supplements, you’ll definitely want to pack meds like pain relievers, stool softeners or Imodium on your trip—especially if you’re going somewhere like Mexico or Egypt where you could get traveler’s diarrhea.

The three meds I always bring when traveling to prevent and treat food poisoning or digestive upsets are:

Organic Cotton Tampons or a Rubber Menstrual Cup

You don’t want to forget to pack period essentials if it will be your time of the month while you’re on your tropical beach vacation! I recommend the Hevea Loop Rubber Menstrual Cup because it gives you leak protection for up to 12 hours and it’s much easier to put in than other silicone menstrual cups. You can be out and about all day without thinking twice about being on your period!

Deodorant

Tom’s Wild Lavender Deodorant is my go-to deodorant because it smells great, it’s non-toxic and it actually works!

Toothbrush & Toothpaste

Tired of leaving your electric toothbrush at home when traveling? Enter the Quip Electric Toothbrush. This amazing electric toothbrush lasts for up to three months on just one AAA battery! Pair it with non-toxic Himalaya Botanique Tooth Paste and your teeth will be set!

Related Post: Non-Toxic Female Toiletries for Your Carry-On Packing List

beach vacation pack kindle

Electronics to Pack

  • Kindle – Is a beach vacation even a beach vacation without a good book?! Getting a Kindle was a game changer for my travels! It’s so much more packable than even a thin book and allows me to read as many books as I want without compromising packing space.
  • Phone Charger
  • Headphones – Perfect for zoning out on your flight. Don’t forget to download songs, podcasts or Netflix episodes so you can watch/listen without WiFi!
  • Camera (charger, memory card, batteries) –
  • Hair Straightener – Only if you need it. Remember, you’re going to have salty beach hair to work with!
  • Outlet Converters or Adapters – If you’re going to a country with different outlets, definitely pick up a few adapters so you can use all your electronics.

Documents & Money

  • Passport
  • Driver’s License
  • Immunization Records (if applicable)
  • Flight Itinerary
  • Hotel Details & Address
  • Diving Certification Cards
  • 2 Credit Cards – Once you arrive, keep one in your wallet and one in your suitcase or room safe.
  • Local Currency – Not everywhere takes credit cards widely, so I like to get ~$200 local currency before leaving for my trip from a currency exchange with fair rates. It’s helpful if you need to take a last minute taxi or something that requires cash or tipping. Alternatively, you can take out money at the ATM at the airport on arrival. That way you just pay the ATM fees. DO NOT use just any currency exchange or even the airport one because they charge exorbitant rates.

beach vacation packing lists

Accessories

  • Jewelry – Keep it simple and limit yourself to 3-4 items of jewelry that go with everything and are not valuable in case they got lost or damaged.
  • Compact Beach Bag – If you’re not bringing a beach tote for your personal item, bring a compact beach bag. Something lightweight or mesh that you can fold up into nothing and pack in your main luggage bag.
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat – Baseball cap or sunhat.

portable speaker beach vacation packing list

Miscellaneous to Pack

  • Mask, Snorkel – I only recommend packing these if you are a regular diver and have your own set you’re used to using. (AKA me!)
  • Reusable Water Bottle – I’d only bring this if you’re staying somewhere that won’t provide water like your own hotel room/airbnb vs. an all-inclusive resort. Then you can buy big jugs for your room and just fill your bottle as needed.
  • Travel Lock – I only recommend bringing this if you’re staying in a hostel.
  • Portable Speaker

Skip These Items in Your Packing List for Beach Vacation

Since you’re flying to your destination, you don’t have space to bring these beach vacation items. I promise, if you’re staying at any kind of hotel or resort (even a hostel), they’ll have these items for you or you can buy them locally.

  • Beach Towels
  • Beach Umbrella
  • Beach Chairs
  • Beach Blanket
  • Beach Toys
  • Snorkel Gear

ultimate beach vacation packing list

Best Beach Vacation Spot

Still in the dreaming phase? Here are my favorite beach vacation spots across the world for you to consider!

Siesta Key Beach, Florida

Perfect for families and couples. It’s just an hour from Tampa airport and it’s famous for the pure white sand that’s 99% quartz.

Cabarete, Dominican Republic

Perfect for adrenaline junkies. You can kite board, surf and scuba dive all in the immediate area and the beaches are stunning.

Playa del Carmen & Tulum, Mexico

Perfect for solo travelers, couples and foodies who enjoy nature and serious boho aesthetics. Don’t forget to check out my packing list for Playa del Carmen and Tulum.

Kabak Koyu, Turkey

Perfect for adventurers willing to drive along steep cliffs to reach a stunning beach with insanely blue water. (Psst, this spot is extremely close to Greece so think Greece-like water in Turkey!)

Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Perfect for surfers, nature lovers and yogis who are looking to rest and relax in nature.

Bondi Beach, Australia

Perfect for surfers, foodies and anyone dying to explore Sydney and surrounding parts of Australia.

Don’t Forget Your Printable Packing List for Beach Vacation!

beach packing list image with text overlay woman at beach with flower in hair

2 Comments

  1. bobbi

    I was looking forward to using the printable packing list, but it’s missing some inportant items such as deodorant, toothbrush, and toothpaste. I want to minimize my packing, but i don’t want to forget essential items.

    Reply
    • Tara

      You are totally right! I don’t know how I overlooked those essential items! I’ve updated the printable packing list to include them if you’d still like to download. Thank you for pointing that out. 🙂

      Reply

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I’m Tara Weber, a Sarasota, Florida based travel blogger and copywriter. On She Needs Less, I share my adventures across our beautiful planet and inspire women to build self confidence and independence so they can live the life they dream of. No matter how unconventional!

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