How to Pack the Perfect Beach Bag

With warm weather, comes the beach! But, how many times have you been to the beach and realized you've forgotten something? Never be without your beach essentials again — keep clicking to learn how to pack wisely and well for any beach outing.

Pre-Beach

There are a few things you should do before you leave for the beach, in addition to packing your beach bag.  Make sure the whole family applies water-resistant SPF all over their bodies after showering.  This allows your first round of sun protection to activate (many sunscreens take 30 minutes to activate), and it also prevents those funny burns you can get along your bathing suit line  when you apply sunscreen at the beach.  (Keep clicking for my specific SPF recommendations).

Protect your hair - If you have color treated hair, use an SPF product like Miss Oops Block Your Locks SPF 15 Finishing Spray.  The sun can do a number on your hair color, so since you are paying a premium for it to look a specific way, make the effort to protect it!

$15 on Missoops.com

Next, if you have a manicure or pedicure, protect it from the sun with a topcoat like Orly Sunscreen for Nails, which provides UV protection so your polish color doesn't change or fade.

$8.95 on Amazon

Ok, now let's make sure you have everything you need for your beach outing.

Beach Bags

The crucial starting point to any beach trip is the bag.  Your beach bag should be roomy enough to hold all your beach essentials (at least 15"x12"x5"), comfortable to carry and water-resistant.  Storage pockets are always a plus.

I love the Belle Isle Floral Tote from Lindsay Phillips. It's very big, water-resistant AND it comes with a matching towel that rolls up and fits snugly in the bag! Two necessities in one, and super cute to boot!

$59 on Lindsay-Phillips.com

If you're carrying a lot of food to the beach, bring it in a collapsible bag.  Chicobags makes these great bags that you can stuff like crazy (they have handy outside pockets for your beverage bottles, but when you're done, they fold up into a little zipper pouch!

$19.99  on Chicobag.com

A budget beach bag option is the Faded Glory Woven Totes from Walmart.  Water-resistant and very roomy at 14.5"x13.5"x7".  Can't beat it at $5 a bag!  Great for towels and light supplies!

$5 at Wal-Mart stores nationwide

Towels

If you like a big, fluffy towel like I do, be sure to check out Echo Design.  They are 40x72, 100% cotton and come in 4 beautiful patterns.    Echo has lots of other lovely and useful beach items, too - cover ups, hats, totes, etc.

$25 at EchoDesign.com

SPF

My family and I just returned from a trip to the Dominican Republic and every day it was sunny and gorgeous.  Spending a week in the hot sun, I had a chance to road-test some SPF products to see how effective they really were.

In the morning, we applied the CVS Extreme Sport Lotion Sunscreen SPF 70 all over.  This sunscreen with broad spectrum photostable technology is oil-free so it feels light on the skin.

After a couple of hours outdoors, or after swimming, we used the Nature's Gate  Aqua Block SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion.  It contains the physical block of Zinc Oxide, which gave us the immediate protection we needed at the beach.

CVS Extreme Sport Lotion Sunscreen SPF 70 is $9.99 on CVS.com.

Nature's Gate Aqua Block SPF 50 Very Water Resistant Sunscreen Lotion is $8.99 on Nature's-Gate.com.

Need a reminder to re-apply?  SpaFinder introduced the Melanoma Bracelet, as part of their Melanoma Initiative to increase awareness about preventing, and detecting Melanoma. The bracelet changes color from white to purple when exposed to harmful UVA/UVB rays as a reminder that it’s time to re-apply sunscreen. ¿¿$4.95 at Spafinder.com

Clothing

In addition to using water-resistant SPF products and applying them often, consider providing protective sun wear for everyone in the family, specifically shirts and hats.

For kids and babies, the UVSkinz brand has a broad variety of sunwear.   All have a UPF 50+ (the UPF refers to fabric instead of the SPF in lotions, sprays, etc.). The site also provides a lot of information about sun protection.

prices vary, $15.95 and up at UVskinz.com

UVSkinz also has a really chic wrap top for women. It's actually possible to be protected and fashionable at the same time!  $36.95 at UVskinz.com

For active adults, Golite has really a nice runner's shirt that is perfect for the beach. Their Wildwood Trail Shortsleeve Run Top features lightweight fabric with an extra fast dry time and an UPF of 50+. It is specifically designed to protect the skin from the sun without the risk of overheating. If you snorkel - be sure to wear a shirt!

$45 at Golite.com

Protective Hats

The Coolibar Packable Wide Brim Sun Hat ($30) is made of lightweight, breathable fully-lined polyester knit and has an UPF 50+.   The broad 4" brim shades your face and neck and it has an internal sweatband and drawstring for comfort and great fit.   This hat can also be hand washed and will retain it's shape after it's been folded! CharlestonNaturally.com has lots of options for men and kids too.

Protective Eyewear

Many designer glasses do not provide broad spectrum sun protection so make sure you read the tags before buying a new pair of sunglasses.  Ryder's Eyewear has a number of different styles, my favorite for women is the Dutchess from their Chill-Essential collection ($39.99).

The lenses are shatterproof, optically-correct, scratch-resistant and provide 100% UVA, UVB and UVC protection.  Ryder's also has several cool sunglass styles for men.

View the entire Ryder's Chill-Essential Collection for men & women.

Insulated Storage for Food

Built Gourmet Getaway Large Insulated Lunch Tote bags offer the perfect size insulated bag for a larger lunch or lots of snacks.   They are made out of neoprene so they are insulated on their own, but with any lunch bag in warm weather, I would highly recommend inserting an ice pack. Available in several fashionable colors/patterns!

$22.95 at Reusablebags.com

For a less expensive option, try Acme insulated lunch bags.   Equally as functional, just not as ultra-cute as the Built bags!

$14.95 at Reusablebags.com

Insulated Storage for Drinks

Insulated bottles are great for the beach, but how many times have you had a "travel" bottle leak in your bag?  I found these fantastic metal bottles, and I tested them aggressively for leaking.  Not a drop leaked, so I recommend them both highly.

Earthlust has adorable bottles in 13oz. for $14.95 (other sizes also available) at Reusablebags.com.

No matter what beverages you take to the beach, make sure you have at least bottle filled with ice cubes and water.  It's very important to stay cool and hydrated at the beach!

Sarong

A sarong is an excellent beach cover up, but it can also be used as an extra beach blanket or a towel for a quick sand dusting.  Find every style, size and color sarong imaginable at 1 World Sarong starting at $7.99.

An "Essentials" Bag

This is a bag that you can keep on-hand all spring and summer for any kind of outdoor outing, i.e. picnic at the park, a hike, the beach, etc.  Just grab it and go!

This bag should be see-through for easy viewing (a gallon ziplock works well) and should contain the following:

1.  Bug Repellent. You never know if it's going to be buggy, so it's good to be prepared.  If you have kids, best to have one version that the whole family can use.  I like the deet-free All-Terrain Kids Herbal Armor.  Note - when applying any kind of spray product near a child's face, best to spray onto your hands and then apply around the face (hairline, ears, neck) so there is no risk of exposure to the eyes, nostrils or mouth. $8.99 at Drugstore.com

2.  An "everything" stick -  a handy balm that is multi-multi purpose. The Revolution Organics All-Over Body Balm is certified organic has 22 uses, some of which are:  fights frizz, soothes sunburn, tames eyebrows, AND moisturizes lips, cuticles, hands, feet and elbows.  A must-have!  $27.95  at SaffronRouge.com

3.  Unscented Baby Wipes are essential for any beach outing. They are great for spills, sticky hands from treats on the beach and sandy, sweaty faces.

4.  Don't let a small accident stop your beach outing in its tracks. Come armed with band-aids (preferably waterproof) and a cleaning solution like Bactine.

5.  It's always good to have a small bottle of saline on hand. Sand can easily get kicked into someone's eyes.

6.  A wine opener, because, well, you know…

7.  Plastic bags. It's good to have a couple of extra large ziplock bags in case you want to store wet items.  These are especially handy if you are going out straight from the beach as they provide waterproof storage for wet swimsuits.

8.  Sunscreen alternatives. If you tend to be forgetful and find yourself at the beach or the park without sunscreen,  Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare makes these handy Powerful Sun Protection SPF 30 Daily Sunscreen Towelettes.  Toss a couple packets in your "Essentials" bag so you are always prepared. $18  at DGSkincare.com

Beach Blankets

I swear by my Tuffo Water-Resistant Outdoor Blanket.  My husband and I received it as a baby shower gift 4 years ago and we use it all year round.  It has a water-resistant nylon bottom so moisture from the ground doesn't seep through.  It folds up and comes in a handy carrier, so it's easy to tote anywhere.

$29.95 on Amazon.com

Gear

Umbrellas, chairs, collapsible tables?  Shade USA has it all at reasonable prices.

And Don't Forget

A good book, beach toys (if you have kids, or if you're a grownup who likes making sand castles!), flip flops or beach shoes for everyone, your camera or small video camera (with a water-resistant case!), a frisbee or inflatable ball.  It's the beach, after all!

Post-Beach

If you are planning to go out straight from the beach, here's what I recommend you have in your Post-Beach arsenal:

Umberto Beverly Hills Dry Clean Dry Shampoo - Sweltering temps and high humidity are often a recipe for limp, greasy hair.  Umberto Beverly Hills Dry Clean will absorb oil and give the hair a lift.  Just spritz on and brush out for a instant beach-free hair.

$8.99 at Target.com

Hopefully, you get a chance to shower at the beach, but if you don't, use your Baby Wipes for a quick wipedown.  To smell great for your night out, try Pacifica Solid Perfume.  Compact and spill-free, the Pacifica Solid Perfumes are perfect to take along on your beach trip.  21 scents and only $9 ea!

$9 at PacificaPerfume.com

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