Beach Trip Packing List for Kids

My family just returned from six straight days of playing in the sun and the sand, and after years of braving the beach with fussy toddlers who struggled to nap and babies who munched on fistfuls of sand, I won’t hesitate to declare this our best beach trip yet.

Sure, our success was mostly the result of our kids reaching perfect beach-going ages (three and five are great, y’all!), but since I spent hours planning and packing, I’d like to take a tiny bit of the credit, too.

Beach Trip Packing List for KidsIf you’re planning a beach trip this summer, here are a few of the items we brought (or bought once we arrived) that were totally worth it.

Beach Trip Packing List for Kids

Buckets and shovels – Take it from a mom who’s been there – bring at least one bucket and shovel per kid. It’s your vacation, too, and you don’t want to spend the time yelling, “Share with your brother!” (Although there is something awfully homey about that…just me?). We brought big buckets for making sandcastles and smaller ones for collecting shells on walks. I think at least half of our beach time was consumed by kids running back and forth from the edge of the water to the sand to collect (and dump) buckets of water. If you’re three years old, I’m not sure there’s a better way to spend a day.

A boogie board – Even if your child is little. Hear me out: even our youngest (at barely three) enjoyed riding and floating on the surf. I’m not sure I could’ve been any more surprised at the hours of fun my kiddos had both riding the waves (with plenty of help and supervision!) and just playing in the two inches of water on the shore. For safety reasons, I will say this was an exception to my one-item-per-kid rule.

Water bottles and snacks – You’re a mom, so you already know this. Between the heat, ocean air, and all the energy they burn running and playing, my kids can seriously eat and drink at the beach! You’ll want wipes, of course, to knock off what you can of the sand.

Gentle shampoo and soap for the kids – All that sand and salt is exfoliating. Add in more frequent washes (because anything less than a full-body rinse just doesn’t do the job for a toddler who spent the last three hours sitting in sand), and their soft skin can get irritated. We also brought along skin protectants and moisturizers (like petroleum jelly and Aquaphor) and Band-Aids for the same reason.

A folding step stool – I freely admit that I can be a little extra when it comes to bringing along a few creature comforts when we travel. My kids like to wash their hands approximately 3,000 times a day, and my youngest can’t even come close to reaching the sink. As much as I love getting to be a part of each and every handwashing adventure, the freedom we both get when she does it herself is so worth the very small amount of space a folding stepstool takes up in the car.

Plus all the usual stuff – I’m sure you’ve already thought to pack the sunscreen, towels, a beach sheet or blanket, maybe an umbrella, and hats or sunglasses for the kiddos. The packing list for a beach trip can get a little lengthy, but a destination where kiddos can run wild and squeal with delight while you get a few minutes (I’m an optimist!) to sit and enjoy the view is totally worth the effort.

What’s on your beach packing list? Did I miss anything? 

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Beach Trip Packing List for Kids

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Jill is an adventure-loving, iced coffee-drinking, recovering perfectionist and mom of two. After a number of years and adventures in Washington, D.C., she moved back home to Georgia and settled in Woodstock. Jill lives with her husband, two sweet littles—a thoughtful, loquacious 5-year-old and a fearless 3-year-old ready to take on (over?) the world—and her fur-st born hound, Apollo. Jill is a part-time photographer, writer, digital marketer, and a full-time mom (aren’t we all?).