Beach Vacation Essentials

With summertime comes the slew of emails with vacation packing requests… because we all look forward to summer vacation but not so much packing for summer vacation.

I get you, girl. I hate packing too. I’m the worst procrastinator when it comes to things I don’t want to do. I enjoy the planning a vacation, but then the next thing I know, my flight is 24 hours out, and I haven’t even dusted off my suitcase.

C is joining me again today, and we’re teaming up with Nordstrom to talk about our beach vacation essentials, and how we go from the beach to dinner when there’s no good place to shower and change.

After bathing suits, the first thing I pack when headed on a beach vacation is a large beach bag.

This is my second year using this packable woven raffia tote, and it’s perfect because not only does it hold a lot, it packs down flat in my suitcase.

It has one interior zipper pocket, where I store my phone, keys, ID, and cash/credit cards. And then there’s another open pocket where I like to put my sunglasses, tissues, and other odds and ends I don’t want to get lost in the bottom of my bag.

The faux leather straps are soft and comfortable on my shoulders, and they stay put when I’m walking around.

One item I’ve added to my summer closet this year is a floppy sunhat. This Eric Javits hat was a major splurge, but it actually has SPF50 and blocks 95% of UVA and UVB rays!

I’m really trying to be careful about protecting my face these days, so that feature was very compelling, but I was also drawn to how elegant this hat is. I spotted it from across the store, and I made a beeline for it.

It also has a wide elastic band inside that comfortably keeps it where you place it on your head. It comes in like 14 different colors, but I went with the one called “Peanut.”

Nordstrom also has a lot of more budget-friendly hat options. The hat C is wearing sold out, but this one has a similar look to mine for a fraction of the price. Both hats are stylish and will help shield your face from the sun.

Speaking of sun protection, my favorite brand of sunscreen is Coola.

This Coola travel kit is tucked into my beach bag, and I also have the full-size lotion SPF 50 in Guava Mango, my favorite scent.

If I know I’m going to be at the beach all day and then want to go out to dinner without going back to the room to shower and change, I make sure to bring along a cover-up that can double as a dress.

C is wearing this royal blue knit maxi dress in the XS. This dress can be worn alone or over a swimsuit, and it’s super soft and comfortable.

My cover up maxi dress came from the swim department, and I think the chevron design is really fun.

I’d like to have the straps taken up an inch or two so they aren’t so long on me, and of course Nordstrom offers a full range of alternations and tailoring. I’m wearing the small, for reference.

Because my hair is likely going to be a sweaty mess by the end of the day on the beach, I always bring a clip along with me so I can put it up.

This is not glamorous, I know, but it works in a pinch… haha! Get it? It’s a pinch clip… Nordstrom actually has some pretty ones; maybe it’s time for me to upgrade to something like this.

And if I really want to make sure I look and feel put together for dinner, I’ll pack a clutch and a small pouch of jewelry in my beach bag.

This clutch is perfect for holding my money or any valuables during the day inside my beach bag, and then when it’s time for dinner, I can use it as my purse and put on the jewelry so I feel like I’m wearing more of an outfit than a swimsuit coverup.

These Kendra Scott earrings are lightweight, but large and modern, and they really dress up the look. I also added some Kate Spade bangles.

The metallic envelope clutch and my Tory Burch Miller sandals complete the look.

C also put her hair up in a pinch clip, and she’s wearing her Quay aviator sunglasses.

Her orange strappy flat sandals are very comfortable and easy to walk in, and I love how they contrast with her royal blue dress.

Other items I make sure to pack for a beach vacation is my S’well insulated water bottle, lip balm with SPF, and of course my favorite Maui Jim sunnies. And don’t forget your favorite beach towel!

My best tip is to keep an on-going packing list on your computer or smartphone. In fact, I keep several — one for the beach, one for our summer Maine vacations, and one for winter destinations.

That way, even if you find yourself packing the night before your trip, you can make quick work of the process and won’t forget anything important. Then once you get to your destination, all you have to do is relax and enjoy!

Shop the Post:

Be sure to visit Cyndi and see the summer outfit she’s styling today!

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photos: Alison Cornell

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32 Responses

  1. I’m on my summer vacation – it’s 45 and windy here in Norway north of the Arctic Circle   It was hard to get my mind around cold weather clothes.  I kept thinking ‘but it’s June’

      1. It is amazing!   We like going off the beaten path.  Google Lofoten islands and you will just fall down the google rabbit hole & suddenly it will be 3 hours later 😂

  2. Excellent post!  And so nice seeing your beautiful daughter!!  I love that you covered everything on going from the beach to being ready for something else!  Your maxi dress is stunning,  I love the chevron design. Good tip you’re sharing – the Packing List!  I have a few myself, that I keep on my iphone.  Our Maine trip is coming up in 2 weeks, so it comes in handy!  Have a productive Monday!  

  3. Great post – you and Caroline look adorable together.  Question (because I too am becoming more of a hat person lately), what do you think are the differences in your pricier hat and Caroline’s less pricey hat?  I have brought myself around to premium denim, but I’m not sure I’m there with a straw hat.  I could probably be convinced though.  🙂  Both hats look cute in the photos, and I won’t wear a hat as much as I wear jeans.  Curious to hear your thoughts.  Second question, have you tried the square toe Miller sandals?  I read a few reviews saying they were narrower, and I wondered if you knew if that was true or not (yes, I still want a pair even though the standard version is too wide for me).  Thanks!

    1. The difference in quality of the materials and workmanship are much more evident in person. I agree that in pictures, they don’t look all that different, but up close the Eric Javits hat is just in a different league. I mean, it caught my eye from across the store, lol! It also has a wide elastic band inside that holds it on your head very comfortably — it’s way more secure than any of the others I’ve tried. It feels more likely to stay on my head without holding onto it when it’s windy.

      But in the end, the reason I was willing to splurge on it is for the SPF 50. I just recently started using Retin A so I need to be super careful in the sun. I like to sit out in my backyard, and I always wear sunscreen on my face, but I like the idea of the extra protection. And as the sales lady said to me, if I take care of it, I’ll have it for life. It definitely was an impulse purchase, but so far I don’t regret it. 🙂

  4. Please tell me jaw clips for hair are back in style. I love them so much, but at some point they seemed to go out, and I haven’t worn them except around the house for several years. Y’all look wonderful!!!

    1. I don’t know, I just wear mine this way around the house mostly, but I do wear it that way occasionally when I need to go out and the ponytail is looking really skanky, haha! I do wish they would come back in vogue. So easy, and I think flattering too.

  5. This is where a maxi dress or lose dress you can just throw on comes in handy. Last spring on our vacation to Florida I wore a loose cotton dress after leaving the beach.. I took my undergarments and powder ( it really helps removing the sand) and did a quick change in the changing rooms.. then I was good to go to supper. And yes the hat helps with hiding the hair too lol. I bought a bag exactly like yours last year and used it a lot to the pool and beaches.

  6. Fun post!  It was so nice to see your daughter with you again.  I love a good floppy hat, but I have never found one that is truly packable.   I’ve had a couple that I ended up having to throw away when I got home from a trip because they were so bent.  I have settled for wearing baseball hats when I travel.  I would love to find a wider brim hat, though.  Both of your maxi dresses are so cute!

  7. Y’all definitely look beach ready and how fun to have Caroline doing that with you. I wish Katie were around more to do mother/daughter posts with me. Happy Monday! XO

  8. You talking about packing for summer vacation reminds me of you calamity a couple of years ago! Thanks for being real with us, and don’t forget your towels. 🙂

  9. What a great post! It’s always fun to see your daughter with you. I look forward to your posts everyday. You are always FUN and relateable!

  10. Your daughter looks so much like you; your “mini-me” except with light hair. So pretty! 
    I love that maxi dress/cover-up for the pool or just a lazy day in the backyard reading a good book. We just got some summer temperatures yesterday – almost 80 and it feels so good. ☀️😊

    1. I forgot to add that I’ve looked at that EJ hat in Nordstrom probably a dozen times over the last 6 months and I got close to buying it recently. It really is a beautifully made hat and the way it sits on your head looks better than some of the cheaper hats. I might have to finally take the plunge! I wear hats a lot – I never get sun on my face – so I’d probably get my money’s worth for sure. 

  11. BOTH of you look great!  I really like your coverup.  And both of you did a great job clipping your hair up.  I do not have that skill.  I hope you enjoyed your day!

    1. Oh, there is very little skill involved, ha! Actually, Caroline is really good at hair, but I’m too impatient. That’s why I like these clips. They’re pretty much fool-proof. 🙂

  12. My problem with hats is that I like to keep my hair in a ponytail at the beach.  Then hats don’t fit correctly.  I end up in a ball cap which isn’t nearly as cute or protective from the sun as a floppy hat.

  13. Really great and fun post. :). So neat Caroline was part of it. You are training her well. :). She’s really cute. The photos by your pool are so nice. How fun to own a pool. I’ll have to check your dress out… I usually need petite length. 

  14. PS Warm 80’s here today and no rain in sight for weeks. Suppose to be 90’s next two days. This is NW Oregon. I’m glad Fathers Day is going to be nice for Grilling. 

  15. Jo-Lynne, you and Caroline look so happy and stylish! Love the color of Caroline’s dress. I lI’ve at the beach and I have to admit I’m not so glamorous. When I vacation at the beach, I do step up my game☀️🌴⛱

  16. Perfect timing with this post! I’m heading on a beach vacation in a week and a half. You also answered my question about going out right from the beach. A great big thank you! 👍😃

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