Packing is an exciting moment before going off on vacation. It signals that the time to set off is near, and that fun times are around the corner. Packing for a beach vacation though can be stressful for parents who must supervise this process, or pack for younger children.
While many people suggest packing light for vacation, the emphasis is on ensuring you have the right things for every scenario – like beach time, dinner time, off-property excursions, tours, and casual outings. Aside from carefully picked out clothing, you’ll need about two or three pairs of shoes for everyone to match the various occasions; this includes flip-flops, one pair of casual shoes (sneakers), and something a little dressier for dining, or another fancy occasion.
Picture: Pirates Island waterpark at family resort Beaches Negril, located on Seven Mile beach in Jamaica.
You will know best how to pack for your children – one of the challenges may be convincing older kids that they do not need to pack their entire closet, and every single bathing suit, for just a 5-day beach getaway. Keep in mind that travelling with babies generally requires that you pack more, including diapers, wipes, bottles, clothing, toys, and other essentials. While you may not be able to lighten baby’s requirements much, you can definitely shrink the list of things to pack for yourself and older kids. Use our list of what to pack for a family beach vacation below to help not forget the essentials, but not to overpack as well.
Tip: Want to bring the kids to the most beautiful beach of Jamaica? Book a family room at Beaches family-friendly all-inclusive resort in Negril, located on Seven Mile Beach. The resort offers certified nannies for the younger kids, so parents can have some down-time too. For older kids, all watersports (with professional instructions) and unlimited access to Negril’s Pirates Island waterpark are included in your stay!
It can be hard to find a suitable sunscreen in a foreign country, especially if you’re used to using specific or organic brands. Depending on where you’re travelling to, sunscreen can also be costly. Pack a couple bottles (or sprays) to bring along with you. After-sun gels are useful too. Hats also, are a must. Bring along a multi-purpose, quick-dry hat for each member of your family.
Tip: Bring reef-safe and waterproof sunscreen to protect the coral you might encounter during snorkeling trips. The golden rule when it comes to bringing sunblock on a family beach vacation: if you think you packed enough sunscreen, pack even more.
Keep your kids safe by investing in life jackets for your beach vacation. Children’s life jackets are usually relatively lightweight, which means they’ll be easy to pack. You can choose between puddle jumpers (for younger kids), and kiddie life jackets for those who are older. Life jackets are worth the investment, and can save a life.
From pool rafts to inflatable ride ons, floaties are a must for beach days with younger kids. These will definitely add some excitement to your beach day, and the best part is that they don’t take up much space in your luggage. If you want to avoid having to blow these up yourself once you arrive, bring along a portable pump to speed things up.
Dinosaur sand molds? Check. Water blasters? Check. Water and sand sifter? Check! Don’t forget to also bring along oldies but goodies like frisbees, kites, inflatable beach balls, small sand trucks, boogie boards (if they can fit in your bag!) and the like. While selecting toys for the beach, keep in mind that small toys that can get lost or buried in the sand aren’t the best option.
Beach tents are a popular choice for families heading out on beach vacations with small children. There are many uses for these, from keeping kids from getting too much sun and the resulting sunburn, to giving nursing moms some added privacy. Most kiddie beach tents can fold and pack up easily, and they’re awesome especially to give napping babies or toddlers a comfortable space in the shadow.
Helpful hint: Beach tents work best when it’s not windy!
Beach umbrellas are useful when heading out on a beach vacation, especially if you plan on checking out beaches that are outside of your resort (not all have beach chairs and umbrella setups). There are some pretty neat beach umbrellas on the market that are handy and durable - some even have air vents and windows (vented canopy umbrella). If you want to get a small umbrella, there are half size ones which are perfect for little ones who want their own beach umbrella. These can also be used for kids picnic tables and sandboxes.
The great thing about water shoes is that most of them are styled like regular shoes, so your kids will be able to live in them throughout their beach vacation. These are also great for protecting little feet from hot sand, sharp shells and rocks, sea urchins, and coral. They also come in handy for kids who’re afraid of stepping on things like sea moss. All in all, a good investment for all your kids ahead of your vacation!
Mesh hampers have so many uses including being the ideal toy tote for a beach day. Most of these are collapsible, so you won’t need to worry about carrying anything bulky around. Your kids can stuff their beach toys in there on the way to the beach, and pack them away easily when it’s time to go!
Pro tip: Bring differentiating passport covers, so the family can easily recognize which passport belongs to who.
Travel is one of those times when you’ll be glad to have some of your kid’s handy gadgets around. Try not to worry too much about screen time as you’re traveling to and from your destination; your kids will get more than enough time away from electronics once they get to the destination. To keep them entertained along the way, bring along things like tablets, coloring/sticker books, and other toys and games. Pick out games that do not have small pieces that can get lost.
Your kids will appreciate having some of their favorite things to snack on while at the airport, or even once you get to the resort before heading out to dinner. It may take them some time to get used to the snacks available in their new environment, but a couple packs of home-bought snacks will go over well with everyone and get you some peace of mind. Easy options include crackers, cereal, nuts, chips, and dried fruit. During travel, make sure kids stay hydrated with bottles of water too.
You may not be doing laundry at all for the duration of your trip, so don’t be afraid to throw in a few extra things. It might also be expensive to shop in your destination, so don’t count on doing a lot of that, or even finding a department store in a place you’re unfamiliar with. Why go through any of that hassle anyway – just throw in those extra t-shirts!
Insider tip: Never pack more than a week’s worth of clothing, even if you’re planning to stay longer. Make use of local laundry facilities instead. Beaches all-inclusive resorts for example, offer laundry service. Still worried you’ve packed too heavy? Bring a portable luggage scale to make sure you’re not going over the weight limits.
A blanket, a pillow or a favorite plush toy… whatever your child needs to keep calm and be comforted that can fit in their carry on, bring it along!
It’ll be reassuring to know you can just reach into your bag and find what you need, like a thermometer when away from home. Baby acetaminophen or ibuprofen and band aids are some other must-include items for your first aid kid.
Good to know: Beaches Resorts have registered nurses on all their properties daily (during office hours), who provide their service free of charge to guests.
Wipes are not something you want to travel without, especially if you have younger, diaper-wearing children. Judge how much to bring depending on how many you use per day, or per week. Wipes can also come in handy when travelling with older children for quick clean ups.
Picture: Have fun with your favorite Sesame Street Characters at Beaches Turks & Caicos all-inclusive family resort.
Now that packing for your family beach vacation isn’t so much of a mammoth task anymore, the only thing left to do is wait in blissful anticipation of arriving at a destination filled with golden sandy shores and sparkling white sand, where the weather is a little slice of heaven in itself. When you get there, you’ll be able to create more amazing family memories, while soaking in every last bit of your tropical escape!