How to Pack a Beach Bag for a Day with Kids

There are many things I’m not good at, but when it comes to packing I feel right in my zone.

I got a great deal of training for over a decade from being a military spouse –I moved 6 times in 11 years, and from being a mother of 3 young boys –  talk about packing! And, must admit that being born and raised in Rio de Janeiro has given me a little “insider info” on how to pack to the beach!

I also lived in cities near the beach after becoming a mom and I’d hit the beach with the boys at least twice a week before they started to go to school. (Oh, good days!)

How to pack the ultimate beach bag for a day with kids at the beach.
How to pack the perfect beach bag for a day with kids.
Packing the ultimate beach bag with kids.


My beach bag always has these sections:

#1 – Mom

Why me first? Because, just like in a plane emergency, if my mask isn’t on, I can’t take care of my kids’ mask.

For myself I always bring:

  1. – A good sunscreen, one for the whole family, hypoallergenic, SPF 60 (it’s easier).
  2. – Eye-sunscreen
  3. – Hair protector, it’s very good to protect your tresses from the long sun exposure during the summer, even more, if you color your hair.
  4. – Hat or cap
  5. – Hair clip – You can use the “teeth” of your hair clip to detangle your hair. Looks a lot nicer than that big comb! 😉
  6. – Extra pair of shorts or cover-up, t-shirt, for eventual spill ups, which I leave in the car.
  7. – 1 reading material. I guess more than that is quite ambitious!
  8. – Umbrella, in case we’re going to a beach where you can’t rent one
  9. – Towels – I don’t use the huge one. It’s too heavy and we really need towels to get dry after the beach. We have 2 large towels for the family and we use chairs when my husband is there to help.
  10. – Power bars. I love the ones from Kind.
  11. – Water in a safe reusable water bottle.

#2 – Kids

I always use the visual image of “head to toe”, including their tummies, to help me remember everything I need.

  1. – Hats – I have my kids color coded (I had twins first) and that helps A LOT to make sure all is there.
  2. The kids will be wearing them to go to the beach:
  3. – swimming shorts
  4. – Rash guards
  5. – Water shoes
  6. – Extra set of clothes and sandals/flip-flops for each one in a Ziploc bag, to change to head home/hotel. I will use the empty bags to store the wet swimming clothes to bring home.
  7. – Sand-toys. I keep ours in an inexpensive laundry bag. It shakes the sand off through the tiny holes when you’re done and then you can tuck it away in another bag if you want or straight in the back of the car. Use a toy bucket to wash little feet!

#3 – Food

Even if I know I’m going to a beach with lots of restaurants, I’ll bring something for the children to eat. I guess I’ve learned it the hard way at airports in our travels in the US or internationally, where you expect to have food, but then can’t find anything or it’s all closed because you landed too early.

Here is what I will bring in a small thermos that fits inside my huge Land’s End tote (can’t beat them!):

  1. – 1 sandwich for each child
  2. – Nuts, raisins and small crackers, like Goldfish.
  3. – Power bars (bring them in a small plastic box or they will turn into mush)
  4. – Cheese sticks
  5. – 1 bottle of water per child
  6. – Prepare all your food the night before and put in the fridge. Pack your thermos in the morning.

#4 – Emergency

I have a small see-through plastic pouch where I have:

  1. – Band-Aid – they can solve WW magnitude meltdowns!
  2. – Neosporin on the go.
  3. – Benadryl – spray for bug bites or itch.
  4. – Calendula lotion – refreshing for sunburned skin (yes, it happened to us) or after sun lotion.
  5. – Pain reliever for kids and mom.

Since the best hours with kids are always the early ones, when they are fully awake, fed and happy, and when the beach still fresh, my strategy has always been to pack the day/night before. This way you can get out the door without stress.

I know this sound like a lot, but we have been enjoying days at the beach without worries for years now and have always gone through them without troubles. I prefer to carry my big tote than to worry and waist my gorgeous summer vacation on the small stuff.

I really hope this can be useful on your next trip to the beach.

I have so much fun organizing my family and many others!

Because Life can be Simpler.


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