Simplified Family Beach Vacation Packing List That Will Fit Your Carry On

Packing for a trip to the beach with kids can become overwhelming, especially when you’re traveling. But it doesn’t have to be. This family beach vacation packing list was created for minimalistic travel or items that can fit in your carry-on.

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Family Vacations Are For Relaxing

A family beach vacation sounds like the dream, until you’re trying to cram everything into your carry on luggage! As parents, we have to worry about sun protection, swim safety, and hours of entertainment, which tends to result in a full list of items we weren’t even planning on carrying. Here are some tips and things to keep in mind to help simplify your packing list:

  • Bring your basic essentials (ex: clothes, swim suits, hats, etc.)
  • Are there items you can borrow, rent, or purchase at your destination for short term use? (ex: toiletries, sunscreen, snorkels, life vests, towels, etc.)
  • How can you keep the kids entertained with minimalistic packing?
  • Packing compact items (ex: collapsible buckets or foldable mesh beach bag)
Simplified Family Beach Vacation Packing List That Will Fit Your Carry On

Packing The Basic Items For Your Family Beach Vacation

Always start with clothes. Packing clothes for a beach vacation is fairly simple since you’ll mostly be in your swimsuits, shorts, or light dresses, and sandals. A good rule of thumb for packing clothes is to plan out specific outfits for a certain amount of days and to consider wearing each one multiple times. And if you’re having an extended stay with access to doing laundry then you can cut back on the amount of clothing items to make room for fun extras.

A rough list of what clothes to pack per person for a week:

  • Swim Suits: 2-3 *consider rash guards and sleeved suits for SPF protection
  • Shorts: 2-3
  • Pants: 1-2
  • Shirts (short sleeve or tanks): 4
  • Dresses and/or Swim Cover Up: 1-2 (ex: a summer dress and beach cover up or sarong wrap)
  • Pajamas: 1-2
  • Underwear: 1 for each day
  • Socks: 1 pair for each day using sneakers
  • Shoes: 2-3 pairs (ex: 1 pair sneakers, 1pair of water shoes/sandals)
  • Light jacket for the flight, potential cooler weather, and strong air conditioning (ex: a cozy cardigan)
  • Plastic bags, trash bags, or ziplock bags for dirty laundry and wet swimsuits
Simplified Family Beach Vacation Packing List That Will Fit Your Carry On

Packing Secondary Necessities For the Family

After going through your basic clothing needs, you have to consider toiletries, hair styling necessities, and any possible accessories.


Packing toiletry items for a family beach vacation can add up fast. If you’re flying with only a carry on you’re limited to 3oz per liquid. I highly recommend finding travel size items or using reusable bottles to take your products in small portions for your trip. You can also purchase certain items at your destination, such as sunscreen.

Another good tip is to pack all toiletries together, especially for TSA checks. Sharing items like soap and shampoo amongst the family will save you loads on space as well.

Basic Toiletries to Pack for the Family

Depending on where you’re staying, you may or may not need to pack many toiletry items. Some of us have different needs when it comes to our type of hair and skin and therefore may need extra products. Again, I highly recommend getting travel size bottles or packing your own with reusable travel containers. I’ve actually had to buy my curly hair products in a travel size kit to make my life a little easier.

*If traveling by plane, liquids must be in containers up to 3.4 oz. Check the TSA website for any updates or information on liquids.

  • Soap/Body Wash
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Facial Care (most ladies follow a full routine)
  • Sunscreen (pack or buy at destination)
  • Aloe Vera (pack or buy at destination)
  • Bug Spray (pack or buy at destination)
  • Lip Balm with SPF (pack or buy at destination)
  • Feminine Products
  • Wet Wipes (ex: disinfectant wipes, flushable wipes, hand wipes)
  • Sanitizer
Simplified Family Beach Vacation Packing List That Will Fit Your Carry On

First Aid Items to Pack for The Family

I could easily overpack for this category and never end up needing it during my trip. But having some of these things on hand is always a life saver with kids! I highly recommend packing these in small portions, besides, you can always buy more if you need it. Some pediatricians may even offer free sample portions that are perfect for travel.

  • Tylenol
  • Bandages
  • Ointment
  • Gauze pads
  • Allergy medications if needed

Hair Styling Necessities

  • Boys: hair gel and comb
  • Ladies: hair brush, hair products, or styling machine (blow dryer, straighter, etc),

The boys in our family share the hair products so I pack their gel into a small Tupperware for easy travel. And I’m envious because I need to pack a lot more for myself!

Tip: Check if your hotel or rental has a blow dryer so it’s one less thing to take up space in your carry on- it’s a biggie!


Things like belts, hats, sunglasses, jewelry, and bags/purses fall into the accessories category. You may or may not need these items but if you do, make it minimal (ex: 1-2 jewelry items in a small pouch, 1 pair of glasses per person, a flexible hat, and a fold-up bag for taking to the beach).

Tech Items

We live in a very technological world, and yet, we almost always forget to pack the charger for something.

Depending on what you’re bringing, don’t forget your computer, phone, watch, or bluetooth device chargers. And consider bringing headphones for the trip, especially for the kiddos!

Simplified Family Beach Vacation Packing List That Will Fit Your Carry On

What to Pack for the Beach

Now the fun stuff, packing for the actual family beach vacation! If you were to drive to the beach you’d probably pack a giant bag of kids toys, goggles, hats, towels, and sunscreen as well as carry some chairs and maybe an umbrella or tent of some kind. But there’s no way you’ll be taking half that stuff in a carry on bag for a family beach vacation.

Large items such as chairs, tents, and even goggles, snorkels, and swim vests you’ll likely rent at your hotel or at a beach kiosk. Depending on where you’re staying, ask if extra beach towels will be provided. And beach toiletries you can either bring with you or purchase at your destination (unless you want to pack a whole bunch of travel size sunscreen bottles).

Some of the items in this list may already have been listed above or can be rented, borrowed, or purchased at your destination. Others you may or may not need depending on your family and age of your children.

  • A large bag to carry your beach items (ex: a foldable mesh beach bag)
  • Towels may be available to rent or be provided by your stay, if not try these quick dry travel towels
  • Sunscreen (pack or buy at destination)
  • Aloe Vera (pack or buy at destination)
  • Baby Powder for getting sand off your skin
  • Bags for storing wet swimsuits or diapers (ex: ziplock bags, plastic bags, or wet bags)
  • Goggles or Snorkels (pack or rent at destination) *these are our favorite goggles
  • Swim Floats, Vests, or Jackets for those that want or need them (look into rental options or option to pack inflatables to save space)
  • Minimal Beach Toys (ex: collapsible buckets, small shovels, or a compact beach toy set)
  • Infant Beach Tent for sun and mosquito protection (ex: portable baby tent)
  • Underwater camera if you have or want one
Simplified Family Beach Vacation Packing List That Will Fit Your Carry On

For the Flight

Travel Necessities

Depending on your destination and your family, your flight essentials should include: identification (licenses, passports, or birth certificates), flight information (airlines have apps now!), and Covid-19 requirements (vaccination cards and/or test results, facial coverings). Don’t forget your wallet, you’ll definitely be spending in cash and/or credit card during your vacation. And of course any reservation documents (ex: hotel or car), health and auto insurance information, or any other things you normally carry around in your wallet or purse.

If your kids are too small to use the airplane seat, you’ll probably need to bring a car seat for the flight. Or if your kiddo is at the booster level, you may need to bring that along with you if renting a car.

*Car Seat Notes: Booster seats cannot be used on flights. Car rental companies may offer car seat rentals, see if the cost is worth it for your family. Most airlines allow car seats at no extra charge.


We all know that travel days can be exhausting and include a lot of waiting around, especially when we encounter delays. Most flights have in-flight entertainment, like music, tv, and movies. But the selection is limited and not-so-comfortable headphones are usually provided at an extra cost.

Bringing your own devices is always a good idea, no judgement on screen-time! Bring your tablets, headphones, and extra battery packs. I always like to pack minimal coloring sets, coloring books, and sticker books as well. And if you have an independent reader, a good book and fun bookmark are always a great idea. These will also come in handy as your child entertainment during your stay when not enjoying the beach or exploring the town.

Simplified Family Beach Vacation Packing List That Will Fit Your Carry On

Things At Home

When planning a vacation, one always needs to make arrangements for their home. Make sure you cover all the bases like arranging a pet sitter, someone to check on your house or get your mail, cleaning the fridge and emptying the trash on your way out, locking up and turning the alarm on. Keep this on your checklist when heading out so you can walk out with peace of mind and be relaxed for your vacation.

Have fun!

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January 2, 2024 8:23 am

Amazing tips. Your packing list is great.