Vacation Tips: Packing for a Family Beach Vacation

Taking a family vacation is a fun and exciting time. However, packing for a vacation can be a daunting task.

Gathering clothes, toiletries and other necessities for a vacation requires some forethought and careful planning. As with most things, if you have a plan,packing will be easier and less-stressed. And you can use your time at the beach to relax and play - instead of wasting time at the store buying items leftat home.

Read below for tips on what, and how, to pack for your family beach vacation.

Before you get started...
  • Check the local forecast. While bathing suits and shorts are almost a definitefor your Outer Banks vacation, you may also end up needing a sweatshirt (cool nights), a rain jacket, etc.
  • Make a list of all the activities planned for the vacation. Include outings and day trips, Outer Banks activities like fishing or biking and events, like special dinners or meetings. Make sure you list any special clothing and equipment that's required.  
  • Make a list for the family of all the items they need. Start making your lists a couple of weeks before you leave so that you can add any items thatcome to mind at the last minute.
  • Organize on paper a wardrobe for each day. Itemize everything, including underwear and sleepwear. Be specific about items of apparel: short blackskirt, linen blazer, white sleeveless tee, etc.
  • Review each day's wardrobe needs and start to consolidate. Arrange for clothing items to do double and triple duty to reduce packing.  

Tip: Try and pack a day or two before your trip. The less rushed you are when packing, the less likely you will be to forget something important.

What to take...
  • Clothing
    • Beach clothing should consist of sandals, flip flops or water shoes, sun hats and/or baseball caps, swimsuits or swim trunks (at least two foreach person) and beach cover-ups. Swimwear with UV protection is recommended for infants and toddlers. A sarong is also a great idea - as itcan double as a skirt, dress, shawl, beach towel, top sheet and a tablecloth.
    • In addition to beach wear, each person should have one pair of clothes for every day of vacation plus a couple extra pairs for emergencies. A jacket and long pants should be included for breezy walks on the beach at night. (Note: Seaside Vacations' homes include a washer/dryer - so you could get by with packing less clothing.)  
    • Shoes - shoes are always tricky as they can sometimes be heavy and bulky. Try to limit yourself to three pairs: a pair comfortable for walkingextended distances, a pair of sandals or flip flops and a dresser pair for evening.
    • Dont' forget pajamas and underwear! (Note: Don't forget about the youngsters who may require a few extra pairs of underwear.)  
  • Toiletries
    Make a checklist of toiletry items you use every day, and refer to the list when you pack your suitcase. Your list should include: toothbrush,toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, body wash or soap, shaving cream, razor, deodorant, makeup, hairbrush, hairspray, sunscreen and anything else youwill need on vacation.
  • Identification and Money
    Make sure you know what kinds of identification will be required on your trip. Your driver's license will be sufficient in most cases if your destination is domestic. It's also a good idea to travel with some cash in case of an emergency.  
  • Medicine
    If you are on a prescription, pack enough medication for your entire vacation. You should also bring extra---enough for another few days---in case youritinerary changes and you need to stay longer.

    Bring along certain over-the-counter drugs in case you get sick while on vacation. It is easy to pick up a cold while traveling or have allergies flareup in a new city. You might also want to bring something that helps with motion sickness. Aspirin, antihistamines, Dramamine and Tums are all good tohave along.
  • Emergency Items
    No matter where you will be vacationing, you should have first aid supplies with you at all times. Get travel-sized versions of antibacterial ointment,sterile bandages, sunscreen, motion sickness medication and gauze to carry with you in case of injury. Other emergency items include a prepaid phonecard, a list of the emergency phone numbers in the area and your health insurance cards
  • Miscellaneous
    Besides the items mentioned above, be sure to also check out ourThings to Bring on Your Outer Banks Vacation page. Our knowledgeable Vacation Specialists have put together a helpful list of things you'll need for your week at the beach - including items for the kitchen, the bathroom, the beach, etc.  

Tip: You don't want to lose precious hours taking in the sun and sand if your luggage is lost or delayed -- or if your vacation rental home isn't ready when you arrive. Wear your swimsuit underneath your clothes, or pack it so it's easy to access. 

Which luggageto use...

Now that you've decided what to pack for your Outer Banks vacation, let's discuss the appropriate luggage you should use. 

  • Your bag should fit what you need to take - don't pack to fill your bag. Decide on how much you will need before choosing which suitcase to pack.  
  • Over the shoulder bags are quick and convenient but again not good for long distance carrying when heavy.
  • Any soft sided bag can be more vulnerable to theft than a rigid, locked suitcase. A rigid suitcase will probably give the best protection for delicateitems - but seriously consider why you need to take anything delicate.
  • Use your beach bag as luggage. Having your beach bag do double duty is a smart idea for efficiency and space. By loading a roomy beach bag with your beach towels, sunscreen, books, etc., you ensure that you know exactly where these items are when you arrive and you don't take up valuable luggage space in the process.  

Tip: Make sure you spend some time thinking about how you'll transport wet and sandy items back home. There's nothing worse than a suitcase full of sand. 

Other tips before leaving home...
  • Line up the prepared bags in a hall or living area the night before you leave for the trip. Double check that everyone has included everything theyneed.
  • Give someone you trust the contact information for where you will be staying and a copy of your travel itinerary. This allows you to be contacted incase of an emergency. It also can help to raise suspicion if you have not returned home according to your itinerary. Your friends or family can contactthe authorities if you have not come home on time.
  • Think about any bills that may come due while you are away and make arrangements. You don' want to come home to discover the power has been cut off.  
  • Check the fridge/kitchen for perishables and dispose of them. You should also take the garbage out.
  • Consider your home's security. View our article  Keeping Your Home Safe While on Vacation for helpful tips.


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