What to Pack for a Beach Vacation

With Spring Break just around the corner and beach trips on the agenda for many (either now, or sometime this summer), we thought some packing advice was in order. Wardrobe expert Tina Adams, of Tina Adams Wardrobe Consulting, joins us today to talk about what, when and how to pack for your next beach trip.




Follow these guidelines and you’ll have 2-3 outfit changes a day for a 7-10 day trip, all in one medium-sized suitcase. How nice would it be to arrive at your destination with a week’s worth of perfectly planned outfits, with no forgotten items or extraneous articles taking up precious cargo room? And, how nice would it be to be packed 48 hours before takeoff and give yourself the gift of a peaceful exit out of town? Divine. Here’s how to do just that.



We pack people for trips all the time, and if you know us, you know we are hard core light packers. It’s almost a religion with us. What we have found is that most travelers are guilty of the 80/20 rule: we wear 20% of the clothes we’ve packed for 80% of the trip. Why do we over-pack? Because we wait until the night before and just throw a lot of clothes in the suitcase hoping some of it will come out looking like a few well-planned outfits. And it rarely happens. If it does, it’s just dumb luck. Can I get a witness? To avoid pre-trip stress, here’s our countdown to departure with a shopping and to-do list, and our fail-proof packing list.

3 days before departure:

Run by your local discount store and/or cosmetics counter and buy the following:

  • Travel size containers for toiletries
  • Sunscreen
  • Tanless lotion
  • Stain remover, wipes and tissues
  • Tampons and pain relievers (just in case)
  • Lip balm with sunscreen
  • Fill your prescriptions
  • Borrow a good beach book; buy magazines when you arrive because they are just too darn heavy to schlep yourself
  • Buy snacks for the trip down
  • Make sure you have enough dog and cat food if you’re leaving your animals home with a sitter
  • Stop your mail and paper if you don’t have someone getting it for you
  • Go by the bank for cash
  • Do laundry so anything you might want to pack will be clean



Must-haves for beach travel: tissues, lip balm, sunscreen, lotion and wipes. image source: http://members.virtualtourist.com

48 hours before departure, pack that suitcase.

Follow these rules to avoid over packing:

  • Stick to mostly neutrals. You can add a pop of color with jewelry or a pashmina.
  • Use versatile pieces that serve double duty, like a tunic that is a coverup by day and a going out top with white jeans by night.
  • Leave high maintenance pieces at home, like silk tops that need to be ironed.
  • And here’s a biggie: no more than 3 pairs of shoes. They are heavy and take up way too much space in your suitcase.

Wear your coverup/ tunic with white jeans on the plane if you’re flying. Relax. It’s ok, you’ve got stain remover, remember? image source: www.calypsostbarth.com

So here’s what goes in the suitcase:

  • 3 swimsuits, and if they are 2-pieces, make sure the bottoms coordinate with the tops so you have even more options
  • 2 tunics and/or 2 sundresses (to total 2) that will serve as coverups by day and going out pieces by night
  • 4-10 pairs panties and 2-3 bras, depending on washer/dryer availability
  • PJ’s
  • 2-5 pairs of gym shorts (if you plan to work out), depending on washer/dryer availability
  • 2 T-shirts and 3 tank tops
  • 2 going out tops, like a sparkly tank and a linen camp shirt
  • One pair Bermuda shorts, preferably white
  • One fun skirt, preferably white
  • White jeans
  • Light sweater or jacket
  • Pashmina
  • 1 pair flip flops
  • 1 pair trainers or athleisure shoes + socks
  • 1 pair wedges
  • A colorful statement necklace
  • Gold hoop earrings
  • A floppy hat that folds in your suitcase
  • Toiletries & incidentals (Make travel size toiletries from drug store containers.)
  • Check to see if your hotel provides a hair dryer. Use hotel shampoo/conditioner.
  • Make sure to pack electronic chargers.


Below are some ideas for these key packing pieces to give you a visual of what your beach vacation wardrobe could look like. (Click anywhere on the images for more information.):

Beach Wear

SBP Packing post - Beach Wear



Remember, your tunic serves double duty as your coverup. Add an oversize white shirt or a white sundress for a second coverup because it will match any suit you own! All the tops here coordinate with all the bottoms, so you get twice as many looks.
Day and Evening Looks


For your daytime and evening looks, pack one pair of white jeans, white Bermuda shorts, a white skirt and a white tank top. These neutral pieces will form the backdrop for little pops of color, like a fun necklace and a bright pashmina. Keep your shoes neutral, too (flip flops for day and a pair of wedges for evening), so they won’t compete with your fun pops of color. Your tunic/coverup will pair nicely with any of the white bottoms, and for a bit dressier look throw on a sparkly, but neutral, top or blouse. And carry your clutch for a sleeker nighttime look.

The only other bag you’ll need is a tote. Here’s what goes in it:

  • Your book
  • Travel snacks
  • Sunglasses in case
  • A clutch for evening, and inside your clutch goes your wallet
  • You may want to pack your pashmina in your tote as well, for a cool flight.


Your carry-on is a large tote that will double as a beach bag and your day purse. Caption Image: Day tote from Longaberger http://ic.longaberger.com/

A large tote that will double as a beach bag and your day purse is what you want for your carry-on.
I love this day tote from Longaberger. http://ic.longaberger.com

I happened to hear on a radio show this week that the night before a trip most people only get 5 hours of sleep due to last minute shopping runs and feverish packing. You, my dears, will be spending the night before your fabulous vacation with a cup of tea or glass of wine, dreaming about the beach and how fabulous you will look and feel. And you’ll get a good night’s sleep. Aren’t you lucky!

Happy trails!


Thanks, Tina!

Tina and her team of stylists can help you create the perfect wardrobe that will make your packing easy, and they can actually help you pack that suitcase–we know it can be overwhelming! Check out her blog and her website for lots of fun tips and contact info.


Click for your chance to win!

Click for your chance to win!