How to Pack the Perfect Beach Bag

Whether you are headed to the beach for a day or a week, you will need one thing— a beach bag! Let us show you how to pack the perfect beach bag for your day of fun in the sun on the Outer Banks. From sunscreen to snacks, we have a carefully curated list for you to consider before your time in the sand.

For those planning an Outer Banks vacation, we invite you to get your complimentary copy of our Destination Guide. This planning tool is filled with helpful information and tips.

Vacation Guide

A Beach Bum’s Guide to the Perfectly Packed Beach Bag

Determine Your Beach Bag Needs

Each beach bag will be packed differently according to who you are filling it for. Are you responsible for packing for yourself and a toddler or a family of eight? Step one is to determine who you are packing for. Next, you will need to know the length of time you plan to spend at the beach. Are you just going for a few hours in the late afternoon? Or do you plan to stay all day? The answer to that question will determine how much gear you need, how many drinks and snacks to pack, and what kind of sun protection you need.

After you have determined your needs for your beach bag, you can start building a list of items to make the perfect one.

What Kind of Beach Bag Will You Use?

Beach Cart: Let’s be honest… you may need an entire beach cart to haul your gear to the beach. They are perfect for larger families or a mom with young children. Load everything in the cart and pull it onto the beach.

Backpack: A backpack is a great hands-free option for a beach bag. They come in all shapes and sizes so that you can find the perfect one for your needs.

Traditional Beach Bag: A traditional beach bag features one large compartment and offers lots of room. These are traditionally shoulder bags, which can get very heavy when walking across boardwalks and through the sand.

Waterproof Bag: If you are worried about your items getting wet, opt for a waterproof bag.

Waterproof EVA Tote Bag: These bags are super trendy and will get the job done nicely. They can easily be wiped down and cleaned. Bogg Bag is one very popular brand.

red beach umbrella, cooler, towel, hat on beach

Items to Consider Packing in Your Beach Bag

How to pack the perfect beach bag really comes down to what is inside. This is not an exhaustive list, but we have done our best to consider different scenarios to help you plan.

Food & Drinks

  • Water (Staying hydrated is essential!)
  • Drinks (No glass, please!)
  • Snacks (Keep in mind how many sandy and wet hands you want in a shared bag of chips!)
  • Lunch
  • Trash bag/box (Please check behind yourself before you leave the beach. Don’t be that person who leaves their Capri Sun pouch for someone else to clean up.)

For Babies, Toddlers, & Children

  • Swim diapers
  • Baby wipes
  • Change of clothes
  • Sand toys
  • Shovel
  • Games
  • Inflatable kiddie pool
  • Beach ball/volleyball


  • Bathing suit (You will only need this in your bag if you aren’t already wearing yours)
  • Beach towel
  • Picnic blanket
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip protection
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Hand wipes
  • Hairbrush
  • Hair tie
  • Plastic zip-top bag or dry bag (These are perfect to protect your phone or other valuables from the sand and water.)
  • Phone
  • Headphone
  • Speaker
  • Tripod/selfie stick
  • Battery pack & cord (Taking tons of videos and listening to music will zap your battery. You will want a way to recharge it.)
  • Book/magazine
  • Notebook & pen
  • Deodorant
  • After-sun lotion
  • First-aid kit
  • Car keys/house keys (You will want to put these into your zip-top or dry bag.)
  • Cash/credit card
  • ID card

Other Items You May Need to Carry

  • Beach chairs
  • Umbrella/shade tent
  • Surfboard
  • Boogie board
  • Cooler
  • Ice

baby playing in sand at beach

Additional Notes

Before you cross over to the beach with your perfectly packed beach bag, snap a picture and make a mental note of the beach access you have used or the closest street. In the event there is an emergency, you will be able to tell emergency personnel where you are located.

If you are staying in one of Paramount Destinations vacation rentals, please leave your valuables (including your wallet, expensive jewelry, etc.) there. Only take what you need to the beach.

We hope this guide to “how to pack the perfect beach bag” has helped you prepare for your days of fun in the sun. Cheers to an Outer Banks vacation to remember! In addition to your perfectly packed beach bag, let us help you find the perfect vacation rental home.

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