What do you pack for a vacation at a beach resort? This list of essential items will help you travel light, yet take everything you need for a great holiday. You don’t need to be an experienced traveler to know what to pack for a beach resort vacation; you need only know yourself. I packed this list (ha ha, get it? packed :-) ) with the most essential items for a beach holiday.
I also included several non-essentials you don’t necessarily need but will be glad you brought on vacation. Remember that all-inclusive holiday resorts don’t mean everything is included. In fact, knowing what’s not included can be more important than knowing what is included. Knowing what you need and packing the right things for a beach resort vacation will ensure your trip is relaxing and enjoyable. You might also want to bookmark Bad Vacation? 15 Easy Tips for Fixing Terrible Trips for future reference.
My favorite all-inclusive holiday was in Costa Rica at the Secrets Papagayo near Panama Beach. No, wait, scratch that. We wanted to stay at Secrets Papagayo but it was too expensive so we booked our stay at the Allegro Papagayo near the Gulf of Papagayo instead. The Allegro Papagayo isn’t the most luxurious all-inclusive resort in Costa Rica, but I loved it! It was my first all-inclusive holiday and I had no idea what to pack for a beach resort vacation. Now that I’ve been on two other all-inclusive vacations, I know what I need to bring to a resort.
This packing list will help ensure you don’t forget anything on your vacation. The most important thing you can pack isn’t something you put in your luggage, though. It’s your willingness to be flexible and adaptable, and to enjoy your beach resort vacation no matter what you did or didn’t pack. You can’t possibly pack everything you might need, and you won’t know until you get there what you should or shouldn’t have packed. Remember that beach hotels and resorts have nearly everything in their gift stores and souvenir shops, and will happily sell you what you forgot to pack. But buying what you forgot to pack will be more expensive than what you’d pay at home, and it may not even be the product or service you really need or want.
But you already know that, right? That’s why you’re searching for what to pack for a beach resort vacation :-)
Before you think about packing your bags…
Do you have nestling luggage yet? The TravelWise Packing Cubes are my version of smart suitcases. You can nest them in each other, which allows you to take an empty suitcase on your holiday without paying extra checked baggage fees on the plane. Not only will the TravelWise Packing Cubes fit everything you need to pack for a beach resort vacation, they’re also the most popular suitcases on Amazon, and they come in a variety of colors. I usually take extra suitcases or soft duffle bags with me when I go on vacation. Depends where I go, though.
10 Things to Pack for a Beach Resort Vacation
I liked Jeremy’s tip on what to pack for a beach resort vacation, but I personally wouldn’t pack chilling cubes. I’m only 5 feet tall and weight 110 pounds; I like to keep my luggage super light and easy to travel with. I also don’t like clutter so my packing tips are practical and lean. If my husband was writing this blog post, his list of stuff to pack would be three times as long as mine!
At the end of this list of the most essential things to pack for a beach vacation I’ll share additional items. They’re non-essential to me but could make your holiday a wee bit sunnier and lighter.
1. In your carry on: A toiletry bag with at least your prescription medication and fresh undies
When I unexpectedly flew to Dubai last month instead of India (What to Do When They Refuse to Let You Board the Flight), I arrived without my backpack. Either the baggage handlers at the Kathmandu Airport mistakenly put my backpack on the flight to Varanasi or UAE Air didn’t unload it when we landed in Dubai. Doesn’t matter how it happened. The point is I landed in Dubai – with its sun-soaked, sandy beaches on the coast of the Persian Gulf – without summer attire. I wasn’t prepared to stay at an all-inclusive hotel, and hadn’t packed for a beach resort vacation.
Always fly with an extra pair of undies in your carry on bag. I also pack an extra T-shirt and a toiletry bag with a small toothpaste, toothbrush, moisturizer, and aspirin. Always take your prescription medication on the plane with you.
One of my readers goes on a hot holiday every year; when I asked her what she’d pack in her carry on bag she said her swimsuit and flip flops are a must. That wouldn’t have been my first tip on what to pack for a beach resort faction – until we went to Jamaica a few years ago. Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived at our all-inclusive hotel (the Holiday Inn Resort Montego Bay). I wish I would’ve packed more than a T-shirt in my carry on bag, but it was fine for a few hours.
2. Hand sanitizer for the plane and hotel room
Get a few travel bottles of hand sanitizer – such as the Hand Sanitizer Travel Pack – and distribute them in your various bags.
The first thing I do when I sit down on the plane – whether I’m going to a travel writer’s conference in New Orleans or a beach resort vacation in Maui – is sanitize my seat. The arm rests, tv screen, even the seatbelt buckle. You don’t want to know germy airplanes are!
Hand sanitizer isn’t just essential for the airplane. I smear it all over my hotel room: the tv remote control, the toilet seat, the toilet handle, the sink taps, the doorknobs and light switches. I actually should have put this as my first tip on what to pack on a beach resort vacation because it is directly related to your health.
Always wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after playing on sandy beaches. According to research from the University of North Carolina and the Environmental Protection Agency, children and adults who build castles and dig in the sand at the beach are at greater risk of developing gastrointestinal diseases and diarrhea than people who only walk on the shore or swim in the surf. No matter how luxurious and clean your beach resort is, sand carries all sorts of little critters and germs.
3. A versatile beach cover up
The Women’s Summer Beach Swimwear Cover Up is comfortable beach cover up for women of all heights, weights, and ages. You can also wear it to the beach resort’s restaurants or buffets at lunch or even dinner. Most resorts have policies about what you can wear to the restaurants. You can’t wear your bikini or swimsuit – you need to cover most of your body when you eat “indoors.”
Unless you enjoy changing your clothes before every meal, you’ll appreciate having a beach cover up that you can wear to the restaurants, lounges, and bars. Many all inclusive resorts have beach bars and food huts that allow guests to eat in their swimwear, but it’s good to pack a beach cover up that allows you to go in and out of the restaurants without feeling self-conscious.
4. Travel mug that doesn’t spill – for the beach and beyond!
A Vacuum-Insulated Stainless Steel Travel Mug is an essential thing to pack for beach resort vacations. Get one with an easy-clean lid; it’ll keep your coffee hot and fresh for those bleary-eyed mornings after the resort’s late-night entertainment. A travel mug is also a great way to keep your blended beach beverages, wine cooler, or beer cold on hot days.
When we went to Costa Rica my husband took his favorite travel mug. I didn’t think it was necessary to pack a travel mug for an all-inclusive beach resort vacation. I regretted it as soon as we arrived at the airport and went for a coffee while waiting to board the flight! A travel mug isn’t just great for airports and even plane trips; insulated travel mugs keep your mai tais and diet Cokes icy cold, and your morning coffee hot and fresh. You can take your drinks to the beach or pool without worrying about spillage – and you can enjoy a bigger cup of coffee than the resort offers.
This packing tip seems counterintuitive (since “everything” is included on an all-inclusive beach vacation), but it’s a great idea. Also, as far as toxins and germs go, stainless steel travel mugs are better than plastic.
5. A Kindle Paperwhite or other electronic waterproof reader
The Kindle Paperwhite – Now Waterproof with 2x the Storage is perfect for beach and poolside reading. It’s perfect for a beach vacation because it comes with Audible, which means you can pair it with Bluetooth headphones or speakers to listen to your story. A single battery charge lasts for weeks, maybe even for your whole vacation, and the built-in adjustable light lets you read indoors and outdoors, day and night.
I prefer print books, even though they’re not essential an essential item to pack for a beach resort vacation. In fact, print books are the exact opposite of essential! But I find it more relaxing and enjoyable to read print books. I don’t like reading anything on screen. A holiday is supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable, right? So pack things that will make you happier and more relaxed on your vacation. Even beach resorts can be stressful if you don’t allow yourself to do what you really want.
6. Old clothes to leave at the beach resort after your vacation (?)
If you’re a runner or tend to sweat a lot, what do you pack for a beach resort vacation? You don’t want to worry about doing laundry, nor do you want to wear sweat-stained, smelly clothes at an all-inclusive resort! And you may not want to rinse out your running gear or sweaty beachwear (which is what I do. It’s a hassle, but I wash my sweaty clothes and jog bras in the shower after a run. I just use shampoo, soap or shower gel).
Sometimes I pack my old clothes when I go on beach vacations – my husband calls them my “hobo clothes.” I exercise, walk or run every morning and get sweaty in hot sunny places. At the end of the holiday I’d leave my old clothes in the hotel room for the cleaning staff to use however they like. That also gave me space in my suitcase to pack the new clothes and souvenirs I bought on vacation. This packing tip may not work if you care how you look on your holidays. I don’t care what I look like, and would rather look like a hobo and have room in my luggage for souvenirs. It requires some planning, but knowing what to pack for a beach resort vacation involves knowing what you want to bring home and what you can leave behind.
7. A light travel mat for the resort’s fitness or relaxation activities
The Gaiam Yoga Mat Folding Travel Fitness & Exercise Mat is perfect for for beach vacations, weekend getaways, extended retreats or trips across town. It’s not just for yoga; many beach resorts and hotels offer stretch classes, relaxation activities, and Pilates sessions. If your all-inclusive resort is in a country not known for its hygiene, you may not want to use the hotel’s mats.
The Allegro Papagayo Resort in Costa Rica is an all-inclusive resort that offered stretch classes when I was there. I loved the classes but the sanitizer had run out. I used my hand sanitizer (which is why it was first on my things to pack for a beach resort vacation!) but wished I had my own mat. It’s not just a travel thing. No matter where I am, a beach resort or a yoga class at home, I don’t like exercise mats that other people have sweated on.
If your beach resort offers fitness activities, consider taking your own travel mat. Also, be open to trying different types of activities! For example, I’d never taken a stretching class before Costa Rica. I thought why not, it’s free and I need a break from lying by the pool. One of the best things to pack for a beach resort vacation is an open mind and willing spirit.
8. Travel scissor and clipper set – not just for manicures and pedicures
A Travel Manicure and Pedicure Set is perfect for women like me, who are too busy to go for manicures and pedicures before leaving on vacation. I always take my own travel mani and pedi set so I can buff and polish by the pool, on the beach, or on my the balcony of my hotel room. Our all-inclusive resort vacation in Costa Rica had a spa but the manicure, pedicure, and massage prices were too expensive. Whenever I go on holidays, I always bring my own spa supplies. I enjoy doing my nails by the pool, especially since I never have time to do it before I go on vacation.
This travel scissor and clipper set isn’t just for manis and pedis. When I was in Nepal I had to buy a pair of small scissors for some individually packed medication I had to take twice a day. Those scissors now travel with me – they’re not just what I pack for a vacation at a beach resort, but for trips of all types.
9. Chilling cubes (the least essential item to pack for a beach resort vacation)
Here’s a reader’s tip on what to pack for beach resort vacations: “Pack your own re-useable ice,” says Jeremy on What You Need to Pack for an All Inclusive Holiday. “Some ice cubes are little plastic bags or stones. Use this with your travel mugs and you’ve got your own ice and cup! Most bars won’t mind putting the mixed drink in your cup for you. This way you don’t have to worry about drinking the water. Even beach resorts can have contaminated water and sloppy restaurant staff.”
Teroforma Whisky Stones – Handcrafted Soapstone Beverage Chilling Cubes keep your drinks icy cold without watering them down. Re-usable ice doesn’t melt and water down your margaritas or beer, which are a must-have drinks for hot days at the beach! If you have a fridge with a freezer in your hotel room, it’s easy to freeze the re-usable ice. This is an essential item for travelers who need cold drinks, or who are traveling with medication that needs to be kept cold.
U.S. cash is a must – even for an “all-inclusive” beach resort vacation, and even in a country that doesn’t trade predominantly in US dollars. Day trips, souvenirs, and extra activities aren’t included in even the poshest all-inclusive hotels. Check the credit card rates before you go – it may be better to take US cash than charge your credit card at an all inclusive resort (they charge extra for spa services, off-resort trips, souvenirs, etc).
I hope my list of essential items helps you! If not, tell me – what do you pack for a vacation at a beach resort? The most important thing is to know what you need and want from your vacation. Knowing yourself helps you pack the right things.
10. A list of additional items to take on your beach resort vacation
Don’t forget to pack your identification and travel documents! You’ll need:
- Print or electronic documents for the flight
- Print or electronic confirmation of your beach resort booking
- Travel Identification (Photo ID such as Passport, Drivers License, Birth Certificate, or Proof of Citizenship)
- Entry visa for the country you’re visiting (not all countries require prepaid entry visas. If you aren’t sure, email the beach resort you’re booked at).
- Travel and/or Travel Health Insurance
- US Cash for spending money (ATM Card, Cash or Credit Cards)
- Exchange rate calculator or a currency app for quick conversion rates. I use an app called Currency App LLC, and can easily calculate how much things cost in Canadian or US dollars.
It’s always a good idea to pack a photocopy of your passport picture and information page, even if you’re going on a beach resort vacation that you think will be 100% safe. Email your passport information and photocopy to yourself, as well as a friend or family member. Also, leave a photocopy of your passport and other important information with a family member at home.
A quick list of additional items to pack for a beach resort vacation:
- Dress shoes for à la carte restaurants
- Beach flip flops or water shoes
- Walking shoes/running shoes
- At least two swimsuits
- Beach and restaurant cover ups
- Light sweater for cool, breezy evenings
- Cloth tote bag or beach bag
- Hygiene products
- Shampoo, conditioner, soap (though your resort will probably provide this)
- Toothbrush & toothpaste
- Hair care products
- Brush or comb
- Clips or ponytail elastics
- Hair dryer with adapter
- Shaving kit
- Cotton swaps
- Lip balm
- Make-up kit
- Prescription medication
- First-aid Kit
- Aspirin or Tylenol
- Sunscreen and some type of sunburn relief
- Insect repellant and some type of anti-itch cream
- Exercise or workout gear – running shoes, t-shirts, shorts, socks
What have I missed? What do you pack for a beach resort vacation? If you have any thoughts on what to pack for an all inclusive resort vacation – or packing tips for beach holidays! – please comment below. I’d also love to know where you’re going for your vacation. Jamaica? Cuba? Hawaii? Costa Rica? Zanzibar??!!
One of the best things to pack for a beach resort vacation is an open mind and willing spirit. And the ability to enjoy every second, because you’ll be back home to the daily grind before you know it. Then you’ll want to read Rediscovering Joy When You’re Depressed After a Vacation.