Organizing things to take to the beach can be effortless with a well-established system, whether for a day trip or an extended beach vacation.
A crucial element of my beach preparation system involves having all my beach essentials pre-packed. This way, when it’s time to take the kids to the shore, we just load up the car and set off.
Our family visits the beach throughout the year, so I’ve perfected our routine.
Apply sunscreen to the kids before leaving and pack extra for reapplication during the day.
Top 14 Essentials for a Perfect Beach Day
Below, you’ll find my top 14 suggestions for what to bring on your beach excursion.
After this concise list of things to take to the beach, I’ll guide you through the specifics on how to efficiently pack these beach essentials so that everything can be carried by one person!
- Sand toys for endless fun
- Picnic blanket and beach towels for comfort
- A sturdy beach umbrella for shade
- Comfortable beach chair, especially for mom
- Flip-flops for the entire family
- Delicious beach lunch and snacks
- Change of clothes and sun hats for protection
- Travel-sized baby powder and a rag (perfect for sand removal)
- Essential first aid items
- Wallet, cell phone, camera, and keys
- Protective sunglasses
- Sunscreen and SPF chapstick/lip balm
- Reusable water bottles to stay hydrated
- Spare change for the parking meter
What are the must-haves in your IKEA beach bag?
The IKEA bag (that trusty waterproof blue one available at checkout for less than $1) is your beach day game-changer. It’s fantastic because it withstands water and sand, and it’s virtually indestructible. Plus, its capacity is huge! So, what should be packed in this IKEA beach wonder?
- Sand toys — and don’t skimp on the shovels. More is better to avoid any quarrels among kids over who gets to dig next. And since shovels often break, having extras is a smart move.
- A picnic blanket or beach towel is essential. I bring one large beach blanket or mat for group use, alongside a beach towel for each person.
- The beach umbrella. Mine is lightweight and fits snugly atop the toys and towels. It may not fit inside the bag, but it balances on top quite well.
Choosing the ideal camp chair
Every mom deserves a camp chair, preferably a foldable one with a shoulder-friendly case. It may not be used often, but it offers a semblance of leisure. I’ve even modified mine with zip ties to secure the umbrella.
Essential flip-flops for everyone
Forget fussy footwear; opt for easy-to-kick-off flip-flops. Upon reaching the sand, you’ll appreciate the ease of slipping off your shoes. Plus, they’re great for protecting your feet from the hot sand as you leave the beach.
Packing the perfect beach picnic lunch
Most of our beach gear is pre-packed, but preparing the picnic lunch is my main task. Our go-to is simple yet delicious PB&J sandwiches with apples or carrots, and a handful of snacks. There’s something about the beach that makes everything taste better.
Remember, your insulated water bottles should be already packed in your backpack. I only bring what fits in it.
Alternatively, how about checking out the Best Family Friendly Beach Restaurants in Orange County for a meal or snacks instead of packing?
Selecting THE Essential Backpack for Beach Trips
THE Backpack is absolutely crucial for your beach journey! Its importance lies in being a backpack – anything else, and you won’t easily get from the car to the sand.
It’s called THE Backpack because it’s our go-to for every outing, ensuring we don’t forget anything important. I’m often heard exclaiming, “Do we have THE backpack?” or frantically asking, “Where’s THE backpack?” or even panicking with, “Did we forget THE backpack?” If it’s not in the trunk, my heart skips a beat.
This backpack contains all those easy-to-forget essentials: Band-Aids, snacks, hats. It’s with us at the park, the beach, even on my annual mall visit (I’m not a fan of shopping) – because you never know when a baby wipe will come in handy.
After numerous outings with kids, I’ve nailed down exactly what needs to be brought – nothing more, nothing less. Forget the diaper bag and the stylish tote. Be practical; load up a backpack so you’re ready to join in the fun hands-free.
Choosing THE Backpack wasn’t about finding perfection, but functionality. Ours is tailored to our needs:
- Must be wearable on the back for free hands.
- It’s BLACK
- Features padded back and straps for comfort.
- Equipped with two side pockets for water bottles.
- Designed with three compartments: BIG, MIDDLE, SMALL.
What awaits inside THE backpack’s big pocket?
The big pocket isn’t always filled to the brim, as I reserve ample space for snacks or even a whole picnic when we head to theme parks.
- Change of clothes, including undergarments, is a must. Nothing fancy, just the basics to make it back to the car or home after a day of fun and mess. It’s perfectly fine for kids to get dirty (especially when there’s a spare outfit).
- Hats to the whole crew, adults too. I opt for floppy, fisherman-style hats for their ear coverage. Sure, we might sacrifice style, but it beats the risk of skin cancer scars (I’ve got a few to prove it).
- Snacks that can endure being left in the car. Pretzels, granola bars, anything non-meltable. The key is having just enough to keep hunger at bay until a proper meal, preventing your kids from eyeing snacks from every passerby at the park. (For moms, almonds are great unless there’s an allergy).
- For babies: The diaper-changing essentials, bottles, or a breastfeeding blanket can comfortably fit in here.
What treasures are hidden in the backpack’s middle pocket?
Baby wipes and antibacterial gel – a dual force! Wipes handle the muddy, sticky calamities, while the gel is perfect for a pre-meal clean-up.
A pen and a small notepad, because you never know when they’ll come in handy for kid entertainment or to scribble down your number.
A Band-Aid/First Aid kit, especially the kid-friendly kinds with extra fun items.
Spare change, useful for fountains or parking meters.
An extra rubber band for my daughter’s hair – always needed at the most unexpected times.
Gatorade or Crystal Light single-serving powder packets, a lifesaver for hot days or strenuous hikes. Just mix with water for a quick refreshment.
Travel size baby powder and a rag – a neat trick to wipe off sand. I usually skip packing this, preferring sand over powder in my dark-interiored car. But it works wonders: sprinkle on sandy feet and legs, then brush off with the rag.
PRO TIP: I also transfer my wallet and camera (if I bring a spare) from my purse into this pocket. My phone and keys join them here for theme park excursions, letting me ditch my purse.
What’s packed in the backpack’s small pocket?
- Sunglasses for the kids, while I typically have mine on.
- Sunscreen for on-the-go reapplications.
- Chapstick to keep those lips safe and soft.
- Gum, because fresh breath is always a plus for mom:)
It’s just a small pocket, so that’s about all that fits!
Utilizing water bottle pockets on the sides
These pockets have been a real money-saver over time. Filling up our water bottles at public fountains has become a regular practice. At amusement parks, we’ve even had soda vendors happily refill our bottles with water and ice for free!
Each pocket snugly fits a 16 oz. stainless steel water bottle. Now, with options like smart water bottles, your drinks stay chilled for hours. For kids who find handling big bottles challenging, small cups can be packed inside the backpack.
What additional items should be packed in the backpack?
In the past, I carried a thermometer for those uncertain “Does he have a fever?” situations, but we’ve moved beyond that stage. Tylenol was also a staple, though caution is key since the kids can easily access the bag.
For beach picnics, the big pocket is ideal. Here, I fit a compact cooler packed with sandwiches and fruit, perfect for lunchtime seaside enjoyment.
What additional items should you bring to the beach?
Include boogie boards, which the kids can carry or drag themselves. They should also wear rash guards for sun protection over their swimsuits.
Consider packing an extra umbrella.
Water shoes are a must if you’re heading to a rocky beach.
It’s advisable to leave the portable speaker at home. With young children at the beach, it’s better to keep your ears open to hear them and enjoy the natural sounds of the waves, plus it’s considerate to those nearby who might not share your music preferences.
How do you manage to carry everything?
I wear the backpack, then sling the camp chair over my right shoulder. The IKEA bag is draped over the camp chair strap, allowing me to balance the umbrella on top of the IKEA bag with my right hand. The beach picnic lunch is neatly packed inside the backpack, and flip-flops are on my feet. This arrangement leaves my left hand free to hold little hands.
Alternatively, consider a collapsible folding wagon to ease the burden.
Taking a baby to the beach? What to bring:
Enlist help! You’ll need more gear, like sun shades and a pack & play.
Seeking beach destination advice?
While my blog offers general tips, I always refer to official sources for the latest information before heading out.
In conclusion, mastering the art of organizing things to take to the beach can transform your seaside excursions into effortless, joy-filled adventures.
Whether it’s a quick day trip or a longer vacation, having a system in place with essentials like THE Backpack, a trusty IKEA bag, and practical items such as a camp chair, flip-flops, and water bottle pockets can make all the difference.
Remember, the key to a successful beach outing lies not just in what you bring, but in how you pack and transport it all. With the right preparation and mindset, every trip to the beach can be a breeze.
How can I keep sand out of my belongings at the beach?
To minimize sand invasion, use sealable bags for smaller items and place blankets or towels under your bags. Consider a beach mat with a sand-resistant design for added protection.
What are the best snacks to bring to the beach that won’t spoil in the heat?
Opt for non-perishable snacks like nuts, pretzels, granola bars, and dried fruit. These items can withstand the heat and are easy to pack.
Can I bring electronic devices to the beach, and how do I protect them?
Yes, but it’s crucial to protect them from sand and water. Use waterproof cases or bags and try to keep them in a shaded area to prevent overheating.
Are there any tips for quickly cleaning up kids before getting back in the car?
Baby powder works wonders for removing sand from the skin. Also, keep wet wipes handy for a quick clean-up of hands and faces.
What should I do if I or my child gets a minor injury at the beach?
Always have a basic first aid kit in your beach bag. It should include band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and aloe vera gel for minor cuts, scrapes, or sunburns.