How to pack for your first beach vacation

March 20, 2020

Who doesn’t dream of white sandy beaches, the sound of the crashing waves and the beautiful sunshine? Sitting on a lounge chair and sipping on a cold pina colada? I know I do!

I am a total beach bum! I love tanning and swimming in the ocean and can do that every day for the rest of my life no problem lol.

If you are new at beach vacationing, keep reading as I have prepared an article that outlines the basic things to keep in mind before leaving for paradise.

Beach vacations can be a bit different than other vacations because you will need to pack different items with you. Here are some of the things you cannot leave without:



Sunscreen is probably the most important item to bring along with you on your beach vacation. A lot of people underestimate the need for a good sunscreen. The damage the sun can do to your skin is really not worth the risk.

I would recommend at least SPF 30 waterproof sunscreen. I find that lotion sunscreen does a better coverage job than a spray one. Sunscreen not only protects from nasty burns but also from skin cancer.

Make sure you apply liberally and frequently, especially after swimming or toweling off. Rule of thumb is to reapply every 2 hours. Don’t forget to buy one with UVA and UVB protection to make sure you are 100% safe.

Also, bring enough sunscreen as usually, the price you will pay at your destination will be double.


sunscreen, vacation

Choose a good quality sunscreen


Aloe Vera

Make sure you buy a good Aloe Vera gel and apply it in the hotel room after you have showered, after your day on the beach. This is to soothe your skin after the sun exposure and to hydrate it.

I can’t tell you how many times this has saved my life. I highly recommend investing in a good quality Aloe Vera gel.

Don’t buy the one in the dollar store because it is full of chemicals [I read a whole thing about it]. You want to buy a high-quality one to ensure your skin is nice and moist.

Travel Addicted Unicorn Tip: Put the Aloe Vera cream in the fridge, so it is nice and cold when you apply it. You will thank me later 


Aloe Vera, beach vacation, moist skin

Aloe can really help with burns and keep your skin moist


Bug repellent

The downside of warmer climates is the fact that there are a whole bunch of bugs everywhere. Especially in the evening you really need to wear bug repellent.

Look for one that repels as many bugs as possible, not just mosquitoes. Make sure you spray yourself in the evening before you go outside.

During one of my beach vacations, one of my friends got bitten by a mosquito that had some sort of disease. When we came back, inside of the bite there was a larva growing which became bigger and bigger and my friend had to go to the hospital to remove it.

Since then I shower in bug repellent because mosquitoes loveeee me.

Also, I hate the feeling of being itchy all the time and unfortunately I get pretty bad reactions from mosquito bites so I recommend you stack up before you go.

Even if you don’t usually get bitten, bring a bug repellent.


mosquito, vacation, prevent diseases, bug spray, bug repellent

Mosquitos can carry dangerous diseases



Unfortunately, beach vacations can sometimes turn into nightmare vacations. The reason for that is a lot of people get some sort of stomach bug either due to the food or the water.

I personally have a very weak stomach and everything I eat abroad always makes me end up in the washroom for a day or two.

Make sure you only drink bottled water, wash your hands often and pay attention to the food you eat.

I usually don’t recommend eating street food. Also, if your resort provides buffet always go as soon as it opens [food is fresher]. Avoid the beach buffet as the hot temperature can make the food grow bacteria faster.

Make sure the meat is properly cooked and if in doubt just order something else. Meat is one of the most common foods that make people sick.

Make sure you have a lot of medication – for constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, electrolytes [in case you get food poisoning, it will help you recover faster].

Taking travel probiotics can also help you stay healthier [start taking them a week before your trip].

Honestly, every single beach vacation somebody gets sick [usually me  ] and finding medication in the resort could be quite difficult. Be prepared and don’t eat anything that doesn’t look okay.


medicine, pills, beach vacation, stomach pain

Bring a lot of meds with you


Sun hat

I usually buy one at the dollar store and leave it for the hotel staff because I don’t really want to pack it back in my luggage [it takes too much space]. If I can’t fit it in, I would have to carry it in my hands and it gets wrinkled so I usually donate it.

It’s really important to bring a hat to ensure your face and head are protected from the sun. I know that this sounds ridiculous but I actually had the top of my head burn once [and my horn].

I usually get one with a chin strap to hold it in place in case there is a strong breeze.

Not only is the sun hat good for protection from the dangerous sun rays, but it is also a good addition to your beach outfit.


beach hat, beach vacation, summer, protect your head

Bring your beach hat


Beach bag

This is one of the things I always forget to bring but having a beach bag is very useful. You can put your towel, sunscreen, water bottle, book, snack etc.

Make sure you pack a big beach bag because a lot of the items can be bulky or heavy. You don’t want to have to carry things in your hands as you might lose them.

Don’t pack expensive things in your beach bag, in case it gets stolen. Take the camera one day and take pictures, then leave it in the hotel room. Bring a couple of bucks, but don’t take your whole wallet and credit cards with you.

Always keep an eye on your belonging when in the water or grabbing a drink. Same with the sun hat, the beach bag can be a nice addition to your outfit.


bag, sun, vacation

Beach bag can be very handy 


Sunglasses are a must, especially when going somewhere where you know it will be very sunny. It’s crucial that you protect your eyes!

Buy ones that have 100% protection from UVA and UVB light as they can be very damaging to your eyesight.

I usually wear some cheap sunglasses to the beach as I constantly lose my sunglasses. So I don’t recommend wearing your $500 sunglasses to the beach but make sure you still have something to protect your eyes.

I bring my nice pair where I can wear it without the fear of losing or damaging it.


sunglasses, beach vacation, protect your eyes

Protect your eyes from the sun



Before I take off for the beach, I always stop at the dollar store and buy a bunch of floaties. As much as I love the beach, the sea and the sun, I cannot actually swim properly – hence the floaties. I love just floating and sipping my cocktail.

As with the sun hat, I don’t take the floaties back with me mainly because it’s too much work to get the air out and once opened they cannot shrink to the original size and just take extra space in my luggage.

I usually leave them by the pool for the next visitors, who might have forgotten to buy their own. One downside is that you have to blow them up so bringing a pump might not be a bad idea or ask someone to help you blow them up.

Some hotels do have an air pump as well so try asking at the reception.


floaties, beach vacation, summer

Floaties are a must


Flip Flops/Sandals

For normal vacations, I usually pack only a few pairs of shoes as they are heavy and bulky. But when it comes to beach locations, flip-flops and sandals are usually pretty easy to pack. They are light and don’t take too much space.

What I normally do – I have one pair of flip-flops that I wear just to the beach [usually my oldest pair that I don’t really care about]. The reason for this is the sand and your wet feet will damage the flip-flops.

I save the sandals for the evening when I have cleaned up and also because the sandals match my dresses better.

If we go on a day trip, I usually wear my nicer flip-flops or depending on the activity – running shoes.


flip flops, sandal, beach vacation, summer

Bring few pairs of flip flops and sandals


Bathing suit

Of course, you cannot pack for a beach vacation without packing at least a few bathing suits. I always bring at least three or four with me.

I also pack one of them in my carry-on, just in case my luggage gets lost I can at least dip in the water.

I always try to pack different styles of bathing suits, as I’m trying to get an even tan. This means I get ones with different straps, exposing different skin parts so that I don’t end up with super noticeable tan lines.

I also mix and match the tops and bottoms so make sure if you do that that the pieces match. Bring comfortable bathing suits [I always get some sort of wardrobe malfunction ooopss] so go for comfy and stylish.


bathing suit, beach vacation, summer

Don’t forget your bathing suit


White shirt/cover-up

No matter how much sunscreen I put on, after a few days of sun exposure my shoulders just become red and I don’t seem to be able to stay under the sun too much.

Over the years I have learned to bring an old, white, loose T-shirt which I start wearing on the fourth day of the vacation. If you have sensitive skin too, you can also do the same.

An alternative is to buy a cover-up beach scarf or a very thin beach robe. The reason why I prefer the white T-shirt is that I can go in the water with it. Also, I choose one that I don’t care if it gets damaged by sweat or sunscreen.


dress, scarf,cover-up

A beach scarf or cover-up is a great addition to your beach arsenal


Water Shoes for the beach

The last time I was in Mexico, I realized that not all beaches are created equal. The beach was full of stones and I kept stepping on sharp edges.

Needless to say, I wasn’t a huge fan of this and I went to the hotel shop and bought water shoes [for double the price I would have bought them at home].

Since then I always pack my water shoes because I simply don’t know what the beach would look like and I don’t like the idea of getting my feet cut.

Research your destination and if you’re not sure what the beach would look like I highly recommend buying water shoes. 

I have seen cheap ones in Walmart, close to the luggage section.


water shoes, beach vacation

Protect your feet with water shoes



Bring a light read or a magazine for some serious beach bumming. I personally rather not read and just focus on the sound of the waves and my cocktail but if you like reading on the beach, don’t forget your book/Kobo/Kindle.

If you prefer to listen to music, make sure you bring your MP3 player and make sure you load up some new music before you go.

For the unruly beach hair, make sure you bring a hair tie or some other contraption. If your hair gets disgusting from the saltwater (you guessed it, like mine), bring extra conditioner.


books, music,relaxation

Bring a book or some music to the beach


Well, there you have it – some of the main things to pack for your first beach vacation. I really hope you will have a great time and if you pack the above list I’m sure you will.

In the comments below let me know what is your favorite beach destination.