Beach Bag Basics

What to pack for the pool or beach!

Beach Bag Basics


Summer is likely to include a fun trip to the local pool or beach with the kids. Before heading out the door, run down this list of beach bag “must haves” so you won’t find yourself empty handed in an emergency or having to go back home for a forgotten item.

Make sure you pack:

Suits and Stuff: It goes without saying that you need to pack a bathing suit for everyone who plans on swimming. But don’t forget water shoes, and goggles (I forget these every time!), plus a change of clothes for each of your kids. If possible, keep each child’s items together to make changing easier.

Plenty of Towels: To save on space, roll towels for tighter packing. If possible, avoid sharing towels to prevent the spread of nasty cold and flu bugs. Be sure to pull towels out of your beach bag right away when you get home to prevent mould and bacteria from forming.

Snacks and Water: There are two things that happen when my kids get around water. They get hungry and dehydrated. Even if there is a snack bar nearby, be sure to pack snacks and plenty of cold drinks. You’ll avoid long, hotlines and save money! Check out the pool’s website to see if they have a limit on cooler size.

First Aid Supplies: Keep a large plastic baggie filled with waterproof bandages and any medicine your child requires during the day. And you might want to take along some headache medicine for yourself – the sun and the noise can add up!!

Sun Protection: Take crushable, brimmed hats along with sunglasses, lip balm with sunscreen, and waterproof sunscreen. Check out the directions to see how often it needs to be reapplied. Consider coating everyone prior to departure to avoid the initial chaos of application once you arrive. UV resistant clothing is available that can be worn over bathing suits or while kids are playing on the beach.

A beach umbrella is essential for providing shade if you’re planning to be on the beach for more than an hour.

Clean-up Kit: The age of your kids will dictate what you pack to keep clean but you may need supplies for several diaper changes plus swim diapers, antibacterial wipes, and several plastic garbage bags (for on-the-road trash, in case someone gets sick or soils their pants, or to store wet clothes for the ride home).

Safety Gear and Toys: If your bag is big enough, you may find you have room for life jackets, inflatables, and toys. Otherwise, you’ll have to carry them separately. Contain them in a mesh bag for easier cleanup at day’s end. Remember to mark each item with a permanent marker before it leaves the house so you can identify them as yours. This also goes for any items, like water noodles and boogie boards, that can’t fit in your bag.

And finally, clip out this article, write down any additional items your family uses in the margins, slip the paper into a plastic sandwich bag, and add it to your beach bag. Then you’ll always have a checklist to make each trip to the pool or beach a success!


When picking out the perfect beach bag, look for long, comfortable straps that will stay on your shoulder and keep your hands free, and quick drying material with a smooth surface that won’t hold sand. Make sure the bag is big enough to hold everything for your family but not too unwieldy that you will be left wobbling down to the water. The ideal bag will be able to stand up on its own for easy unpacking and accessibility, plus have an inside zipper for holding keys and other important items.

Instead of unpacking everything after each trip to the beach or pool, give your bag a good shake and put the necessities like your first aid supplies, protective gear, and clean up kit, back in. Immediately restock items instead of waiting until the harried dash out of the door.

Need one more “must have” item for the beach? Pack some baby powder for removing sand before getting back into the car. Sprinkle it over feet to absorb any remaining moisture and sand will fall off with a quick brush.

Author: Janine Boldrin

Janine Boldrin is a freelance writer and mom of three;

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