Your Essential Checklist for a Perfectly Packed Beach Bag

beach bag ocean

A well-packed beach bag might not seem like a heroic item -- until you ask yourself who’s going to lug that bloated tote across the burning sand and then run back to the car nine times to retrieve forgotten items. Not to mention the terrible humiliation when the mom on the blanket next to you hands your weeping child a frozen juice-box and you look like the bad mother of the year.


Never fear. I’m here to salvage your summer with a checklist for the ultimate unfussy, unheavy beach bag. Adjust it for your family’s needs (I assume you know better than I if you’ll be needing waterproof diapers, ferinstance).

Here’s the only stuff you need:

  • Plastic-backed picnic blanket, preferably the kind that folds into its own tote (“Your job is to carry this! Oh, man, what a big girl you are!”)
  • Beach towels, folded and put in first so they line the bottom
  • Quart or sandwich-size zip-top bags to separate snacks (melt-proof snack bars, powdered drink mixes), money (just your credit card, driver's license, and cash), and first-aid supplies (bandages, painkillers, tissues, bug spray, topical anesthetic and antibiotic ointment for scrapes)
  • Gallon-sized zip-top bags for anything that would be disastrous if it spilled: sunblocks in one (including lip balm), frozen treats in another (grapes, juiceboxes, yogurt tubes)
  • Reusable water bottles (at least they’ll be light coming home!)
  • A net bag for sand toys
  • A pack of cards and a magnetic 3-in-1 board game (checkers, chess, and backgammon)
  • Your reading material
  • Wipes or moist hand towels for easy hand clean-up
  • A few plastic utensils, just in case
  • A couple of extra plastic bags for wet clothes, found treasures, or your trash
  • Clothespins: these are handy to clip the garbage bag to the tote, to hang up wet things later, you name it -- always have a row of them clipped at the top of your bag and don’t let the kids steal them to play Alligator

Back at the car, you should stow:

  • Stretchy, comfy change of clothes for everyone
  • Baby powder to rid yourselves of the last of the sand 
  • A gallon of water for a last-minute rinse and rehydration

Did I forget anything? Tell me in the comments!

beach bag essentials

Images © Ivonne Wierink/Shutterstock and © axle71/Shutterstock

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