Beach Travel Packing List: How to Pack for a Beach Vacation

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Summer is here, which means it’s the season of swimsuits, easy dresses, and tropical vacations! So, today I am going to dive into my beach travel packing list. As I have traveled more and more, I have realized how handy it is to use a checklist. Having everything written out and organized helps me to pack more effectively and efficiently, especially if it’s last minute! Plus, it helps ease the worry of potentially leaving something behind. So if you’re heading on a beach vacation, I hope this list can serve as a guide to make packing a breeze. There’s a PDF download available at the end, so you can print it and check things off as you go!

Packing Tips & Tricks

In the past ten years, I have been traveling much more often than I used to, for both work and pleasure. This has forced me to really streamline my packing. Below are some of my tips and tricks that I’ve found to be very helpful.

1. Take Outfit Photos

For each look that I plan to pack, I try on the outfit and accessories beforehand and take a photo. While this feels annoying in the moment, I’ve found that it ensures nothing is left behind. One of my favorite categories on any beach travel packing list is clothing, so how sad would it be to not be able to wear an outfit due to something as small as forgetting a strapless bra! For this reason, I’m always sure to document every little detail (shoes, undergarments, accessories, etc.) with an image.

2. Use Packing Cubes

In the same vein, I use packing cubes and organize them by complete outfits, not by category (tops, bottoms, etc.) I then pack my suitcase with the outfits I am wearing first on top. I’ve found that I make less of a mess digging through my bag upon arrival when it’s organized this way!

3. Be Prepared

If I am checking a bag, I always plan my carry-on wisely. There is nothing worse than having a lost or delayed bag that leaves you with only the clothes on your back! For this reason, I ensure my carry-on has my toiletry essentials and at least one change of clothes.

4. AirTag Everything

I have become obsessed with my AirTags. I use them for all of my luggage when I travel, including my carry-on. I’ve found doing this is helpful in case I am forced to check this bag at the last minute.

5. Minimize Bags & Shoes

I know, I know, bags and shoes can be “outfit makers”! However, they take up a lot of room, so I try to pack a minimal amount of these for each trip. The key is to choose bags and shoes that can be restyled into multiple different looks.

6. Choose a Color Palette

While I admit I am not great at this, if I stick to a limited color palette it allows me to mix and match much more easily.

The Ultimate Beach Travel Packing List

Okay, now let’s dive into the specific items on my beach travel packing list! For this post, I am focusing on a three day, two night vacation. However, many of the items, such as the essentials, electronics, and bags, are ones that I bring along for any trip. I’m going to break it into categories to make packing as easy as possible, and I will even touch on what I don’t bring along when heading to the beach!

Beach Travel Packing List: Essentials

Again, items in this category apply to almost every trip I take, not just a quick beach getaway. These include skincare, hair items, and toiletry staples that I use daily. Having these items listed out in advance helps make the most of my trip by preventing me from having to run around town at the destination to shop!

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When it comes to skincare, I try to keep it minimal when traveling. I stick to the basics like makeup wipes, moisturizer, facial SPF, pimple patches, and maybe one mask. For a beach vacation packing list, I would also pack this sunscreen and aloe gel, in the event that I get a little toasty!


I am very particular about my hair products, as you know from this post. My travel must-haves include hair mousse, hair oil, and pomade. For a beach trip, I also pack leave-in conditioner to ensure my hair doesn’t get damaged from the sun and water. The good news is these all travel easily and don’t take up much room in my luggage!

Since I normally wear my hair in a sleek bun, I always pack my go-to hair ties and bobby pins. I also pack two brushes – a detangling brush and a boar bristle brush to help smooth my hair. While I don’t typically wear my hair down or curly, when I do, I pack this straightener and a T3 curling wand.


While I am fine using whatever shampoo is on hand, I do like packing my own travel conditioner and soap! Bandaids, Advil, antibacterial wipes, and this razor are also on my beach travel packing list.

Beach Travel Packing List: Electronics & Everyday Needs

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In addition to toiletries, there are some other odds and ends that I pack for every trip. Many of these are items that come in handy at the destination as well as during travel days.


Along with my AirTags, my headphones and lightning charger are 100% must-haves for any trip. When it comes to headphones, I actually prefer the wired Apple headphones over AirPods. I like that I never have to worry about charging them or having them become unpaired!

Travel Tote

For me, a travel tote is a lifesaver when we are heading to and from our final destination. I have a couple of different ones I like, but this weekender bag is probably the one I use most often. I love that it is durable, flexible, packable when empty, and can go over the handles of my carry-on. Inside this tote, I typically have my travel wallet, sunglasses, gum, a pen, and a water bottle. I’ve also been adding Liquid I.V. to my beach vacation packing list lately!

Beach Travel Packing List: Outfits

Now let’s discuss what clothing and accessories I would pack for a 3 day, 2 night tropical getaway. For planning purposes, I am assuming I will be going out to eat both nights, and obviously spending time in and around the water!

Beach Looks

Two beach looks should be sufficient for a weekend getaway. First up, this one-piece swimsuit would look great with this fun crochet cover-up. I would pair it with brown slides and these fish earrings, because, why not be extra? I’d complete this look with this easy beach tote and these sunglasses, which are both under $15!

Since this first beach look was a little more neutral, I’d pump up the color for day two with a Hunza G swimsuit and a Missoni cover-up (similar to the above look I posted here). This beach outfit pairs well with the same sunglasses, bag, and sandals from the first look. So no need to add more of these to the beach travel packing list! For more poolside inspiration, be sure to check out my roundup of the best one-piece swimwear.

Daytime Outfits

For a three day trip, I’d pack three outfits (genius, I know!) But in all seriousness, it can be tempting to pack a few extra outfits “just in case”. However, I try to avoid this to save space. Plus, choosing the outfits beforehand makes getting ready during the trip so much easier! Nevertheless, I do like to have a variety of options. So for daytime looks I’d pack pants, shorts, and a sundress.

For one look, this slightly cropped stripe shirt would look great with white linen pants. As we all know, linen is wonderful for a warm-weather getaway because it’s such a light and breathable fabric. For shoes and accessories, I’d go with easy brown slides, these $15 sunglasses, and my everyday gold jewelry, which would dress the look up a bit. For similar outfit inspiration, have a peek at these white pants outfit ideas.

Every beach vacation packing list needs a great pair of jean shorts! These high-waisted cutoff shorts are my current favorite. I’d pair them with a fun, bright top, the best aviators (under $50) and a pair of Adidas sneakers for a casual daytime look.

Lastly, a sundress! I mean, are you really going on a tropical vacation if you don’t pack a dress or two? This scalloped mini dress, these minimal sandals, and these shell earrings would be perfect for a day spent strolling around. I also love this stripe mini dress as another sundress option!

Nighttime Outfits

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Again, in the hopes of not overpacking, I would plan for two nighttime outfits. I love a dress moment while on vacation, so I’d go with two of them!

One option would be this shimmery, sheer maxi dress. The details on this one are stunning. Plus, this dress can be paired with these white sandals and shell earrings, which are already on the beach travel packing list! To top it off, I would carry this under $100 clutch.

I also love a nod to nautical, so I’d go with a classic blue striped outfit for the second night. This striped midi dress with these fish and coral earrings and this wicker bag would make for a look that is not only chic, but also comfortable!

Beach Travel Packing List: Other Needs

While that covers the majority of items on my list, there are a few odds and ends that I would also pack. These include:

  • 1 Pair of Pajamas and a Summer Robe
  • Underwear 
  • Socks 
  • Steamer – While I try to only pack items that won’t need extensive steaming, I hate wrinkles, so I do typically bring my travel steamer.
  • Portable Speaker
  • Wet Bag – This comes in handy if some items aren’t dry yet when it’s time to leave.

What I Don’t Pack

Now let’s talk about what I don’t bring on a beach vacay. There are some things I simply refuse to pack. The “big” beach items are one of these (towels, chairs, umbrellas, etc.). I always check ahead with the hotel or Airbnb to make sure these will be provided. This is a big help when you’re trying to avoid packing unnecessary items.

Since I love a casual beach vibe, I also typically don’t pack my precious jewelry pieces or luxury handbags. For these trips, we often eat at beachside restaurants. There is really no reason to put any of my high-value items at risk of water or sand damage. I also leave behind nicer leather shoes, items that need extensive steaming, and, of course, any clothing that isn’t super breathable or lightweight. 

Beach Vacation Packing List

If a tropical getaway is in your future, I hope this beach travel packing list is helpful! A few other warm-weather posts worth checking out include the best jean shorts, Hill House Home dresses I love, the best one-piece swimwear, and dresses with sandals. Happy travels!