For the first 20 years of my life, my family and I had a tradition that I looked forward to every year. Each summer we would pack up the car and head down to the Connecticut shoreline. We stayed at a cottage on the ocean for an entertaining and unforgettable vacation. Eventually the cottage was sold and we switched to a beach resort, and then I moved to Los Angeles. Since then, I’ve only been back to my favorite spot once. This summer however, my mom found a beach house on the same street that I grew up vacationing on and I couldn’t be more excited. Being the type A person that I am, this got me thinking—what should I bring, and I don’t want to leave anything of importance at home. I created a beach house packing list based on some of the things we used to take with us (aside from the list of gadgets since we didn’t have those back then).
PS: Before you book your trip, I recommend asking the owner for a detailed list of what items are available. Also, if you’re flying to your destination, it won’t be possible to pack a lot of the items listed below. That’s why it’s important to find out what the beach house has available to use.
- Owners contact info and the address of your destination.
- Rental agreement which may include a cleaning checklist before your departure.
- Payment if not already submitted.
Funds: credit and debit cards, and cash for spending in local stores.
Travel info: license, passport, visa, medical insurance card, car insurance, and watercraft license (if needed).
Important documents: travel itinerary, confirmation, and tickets if you're booking any shows, concerts, or activities before you leave.
Firewood (if there’s a fireplace).
Candles in beachy scents: They’ll come in handy if you lose power because of a storm, plus they’ll make your cottage smell great. I also find that lighting the same scent will bring back all the memories.
A flashlight and batteries in case of a storm. This one is multi functional and has a can and bottle opener, tools, knives, scissors, and more hidden inside.
Board games, a deck of playing cards and trivia games for evenings or rainy days.
A few blankets for cool nights.
Binoculars for observing the sunrise and sunset from your porch.
A cookbook if you plan on doing a lot of cooking; choose your recipes before you leave so you’ll know precisely what you need to pack. Tip: Take into consideration the diet preferences of your vacation companions.
If you will be cooking in, bring basic cooking utensils: ice cream scoop, spatula, tongs, whisk, vegetable peeler, pizza cutter, cheese and knife spreader, cheese grater, and your favorite kitchen knife.
A small cutting board for chopping up veggies and fruits.
Spices and herbs: salt and pepper, cayenne, garlic powder, sage, oregano, chia seeds, cinnamon, paprika, curry powder, rosemary, thyme, chili powder, peppercorn, sumac, basil, and za’atar seasoning. It may be a better option to bring a set that includes a variety of spices.
Basic condiments and spreads: ketchup, mayo, mustard, hot sauce, BBQ sauce, teriyaki sauce, salad dressing, soy sauce, cocktail sauce, salsa, olive oil, jams, peanut butter, and syrup. Tip: once you arrive pick up some butter, pico de gallo, and sour cream since they need to be refrigerated.
Clips for sealing bags of potato chips, pretzels, cookies, etc.
S’mores making essentials: chocolate, marshmallows, graham crackers, and skewers. Here’s a Hersey kit that has everything you’ll need.
A bottle opener and corkscrew for opening beverages.
Caffeine: Ask if there’s a coffeemaker, French press and/or a teapot. If so, bring your own coffee, a grinder (if needed), filters (find out what kind), tea, and sugar cubes.
A thermos or mug for your morning coffee/tea.
Bottled water, or a water filter, and a variety of drinks: Ask your guests what they prefer (wine, beer, liquor, juice, carbonated water, soda, lemonade, flavored water, etc.) and buy in bulk before you leave.
An ice bucket to chill champagne.
An oven mitt for baking.
Dinnerware: disposable paper plates, cups, napkins, and plastic silverware because who wants to spend their vacation doing dishes.
Paper towels: purchase in bulk on Amazon or at Costco to save money.
Food storage: aluminum foil for leftovers and sandwich bags for packing snacks on the go.
Pet food and bowls if your pet is joining you.
Cleaning supplies: sponges, Lysol, garbage bags (small and large), and an all-purpose cleaner.
Dishwashing detergent pods if the cottage has a dishwasher. Tip: throw a bunch into a ziplock bag to save on space.
Bedding: Check to see what size each bed is and pack a set of sheets, blankets, and pillows for each.
An air mattress if you’re having extra guests.
Extra hangers because like hotels, there may only be a few in each closet.
Ask if there’s a steamer and if not bring your own.
A small fan for hot and humid nights.
An eye mask so you can sleep in without being awoken by the sun.
A white noise machine if you’re a light sleeper. You can also download a free app.
Toys, stuffed animals, and a night light if you’re traveling with children.
Hand soap: one for each bathroom, plus the kitchen.
Toilet paper: consider how long you’ll be vacationing and the amount of people, then purchase in bulk.
Kleenex: two boxes for each bathroom.
Laundry detergent pods and fabric softener for the cottage washer and dryer or to use at a local laundromat.
Tide stain remover stick for spot removing stains.
A laundry bag to transport your dirty clothes.
Towels: Bath and hand, two for each person.
Shower flip-flops if there’s an outside shower.
A bathrobe to wear from the shower to your bedroom.
Prescription and over-the-counter medications: Advil, Benadryl, Allergy medication, decongestant, Pepto-Bismol, Dramamine, hydrocortisone cream, Hydrogen peroxide, Melatonin and Tums. Tip: for prescriptions, print out the medication info from your pharmacy.
A small first aid kit: fill with Band-Aids, a thermometer, gauze, polysporin, sterile gloves, safety pins, small scissors, tweezers alcohol-free cleansing wipes, Antiseptic solution, and sticky tape.
Makeup and Toiletries
A shower caddy with essentials like shampoo and conditioner, a hair mask, body wash, shower cap, and a razor.
Styling products: dry shampoo, heat protector, anti-frizz serum, hairspray, leave-in conditioner, sea salt spray, detangler, elastics, and a brush.
Styling tools: ask if there’s a blow dryer and don’t overlook packing your usual hot tools like a curling iron and straightener.
Facial products: cleanser, exfoliator, mask, toner, serum, SPF, moisturizer (daytime and nighttime).
Body: lotion, SPF, self-tanner, waxing, deodorant, and after sun care.
Nails: mini manicure kit, nail polish remover wipes, cuticle cream, hand cream, and a nail polish for touch-ups.
Dental: toothbrush and toothpaste, mouthwash, and dental floss.
Small containers to transport larger size products.
Extras: tweezers, hand sanitizer, hangover patches, perfume, Q-tips, Feminine hygiene products, mini sewing kit, and ear plugs.
- Foundations and blushes: primer and setting spray, foundation, waterproof concealer, regular concealer, blush, contouring, and highlighter.
- Eye makeup: eyeshadow palette, eyeliner, eyebrow makeup, waterproof mascara, eyelash curler, and faux lashes.
- Lipsticks and glosses: SPF, gloss, lip liner, and lipstick.
- Extras: makeup remover wipes, travel size brushes, and a beauty blender.
Here’s a comprehensive list that encompasses all of my favorite travel size beauty product recommendations.
Water fun: a raft, boogie board, and a skimboard. If you’re traveling with children, beach toys and floaties.
A repair kit and electric air pump for inflatable water toys.
Beach games: badminton, beach ball, wiffle ball, and croquet.
Water shoes to protect your feet from crabs, rocks, and sharp objects.
Beach towels: two for each person.
Beach chairs: one for each person.
An umbrella for when you’ve had too much sun and want to be in the shade.
One or two large size beach blankets for spending evenings on the sand.
A variety of sunblock and sunscreen in different SPFs.
Reading material: a compelling beachside read and a few magazines.
A water bottle for each person. (This genius invention has a downloadable app so you can find a water fountain wherever you are.)
A cooler: fill up with drinks and snacks for the day.
A bento box or a picnic set if you plan on eating lunch on the beach.
For ideas on what to pack in your beach bag, here’s what I brought with me on my trip to Mexico.
If there’s no internet, invest in a portable Wifi hotspot before you leave, and if you’re vacationing in a foreign country, don’t forget to buy an international data plan.
Camera and charger for capturing memories. Also, considering buying an underwater camera if you’ll be traveling to a lake or ocean, or a place with a pool.
Laptop and charger: fill up with movies, music, TV shows, podcasts, and books before you leave. Tip: make your Spotify playlists available offline by downloading them in advance.
Ask if there’s an HDMI hookup. If so, consider bringing a Smart TV for streaming shows and movies on rainy days.
Cell phone with downloaded travel apps and a charger.
Wireless power bank for when you’re on the beach and can’t charge your phone.
Universal adaptors and converters if you're traveling outside of the US.
Headphones and waterproof speakers: make a playlist before you leave or check out my Summer Beach Vibes Playlist. Tip: download it when you’re near Wifi just in case the service isn’t reliable where you are.
A compass if you plan on doing any hiking. Tip: don’t use the one on your phone because it will drain your battery.
If there’s a grill: charcoal, lighter, matches, fire starter, and grilling tools.
Bug repellent bracelets for when you’re sitting outdoors in the evening.
If there’s no air conditioning, box fans for the living room and kitchen.
A travel journal to document your vacation.
A pad and pen to jot down notes.
A canvas bag for picking up fresh fruit and veggies at the local farmers’ market.
Here’s a printable beach vacation packing list to help you plan efficiently.
Clothing, shoes, swimwear, rain gear, jewelry, and accessories. Don’t forget to check the weather before you leave and pack a hoodie or lightweight jacket for cool evenings.
Vacationing at a home away from home this summer? What’s on your beach house packing list?
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