What I Packed: Summer Beach Vacation

Since I’m at the beach this week, I thought I’d put together a beach vacation packing post. This isn’t really a “what to pack” post as much as it is “what I packed” because I certainly don’t consider myself an authority on the subject as I haven’t been to the beach in years.

Also you should know, I am a chronic over-packer and make no apologies for it. I hate to get to a destination and wish I had more options, and that happens every time I try to pare down my packing, so now my rule is: If in doubt, throw it in.

I’m way more lenient with myself when packing for summer vacations than winter. I will try to pack smarter when traveling to a cold weather destination, but in the summertime, an extra pair of sandals or another top or two isn’t going to make any difference in the weight of my suitcase so why not bring options?

Speaking of my suitcase, I fit everything on this list into one side of one 24″ spinner suitcase, so while I may have a few more options than absolutely necessary, I really don’t think it’s overkill… but I suppose everyone has a different opinion on that!

Okay, with all of that out of the way, this is what I brought and why. I basically followed the same rules as my Maine vacation packing, but since the weather at the beach is more predictable (or so I thought… haha!) I didn’t need as much variety.

What I Packed: Summer Beach Vacation

What I Packed: Summer Beach Vacation

#1. Shoes. As usual, I start with my shoes. As I explained in my What to Pack for a Maine Vacation post, your activities tend to dictate your shoes so I try to think about what activities I’ll be doing and select my shoes accordingly. (See more expert packing tips  from JLS blog reader Mary Fowler.)

I was wearing my Tory Burch Miller sandals for the ride down so they aren’t pictured here, but I’ve worn them pretty much every day at some point. I also packed my gold Sam Edelman Gigi sandals (didn’t need them; haven’t worn them) and my white Converse Shoreline sneakers (they come in handy when we go to the boardwalk.) I didn’t have plastic beach sandals so I bought a pair on the boardwalk our first night here.

#2. Shorts. Next I think about my bottoms, and I tried to stick to neutrals so I can bring a variety of tops without thinking through each outfit. I didn’t bring any jeans *gasp* because I figured it would be too hot for them. I did bring my favorite jean shorts (similar), white denim shorts (similar for less), and army green shorts.

I haven’t worn the olive shorts yet, but I really wish I’d brought a pair of jeans for the chilly evenings. Live and learn!

I also brought my older rolled cuff jean shorts along with a graphic tee that I like to wear as a swimsuit coverup. I don’t use my favorite jean shorts for this purpose because I don’t want to get them wet and sandy so I can wear them in the evenings after I shower from the beach.

#3. Tops. As I said above, since I keep the shorts and shoes neutral, I can pretty much throw in any of my favorite shirts and know they will work without having to think through each outfit. I grabbed a variety of tank tops and short sleeve t-shirts, and I haven’t needed them all, but here are the ones I packed.

I also like to have a sweatshirt or sweater for cool mornings and evenings, and I brought two options — my thermal hooded cardigan and the stripe pullover, and I’ve these worn over and over.

Who knew I’d wear long sleeves more than short sleeves to the Jersey shore in July? It has been quite chilly in the evenings so after the beach, I usually throw on one of those tops with shorts. At dinner a couple of nights, I was cold even in that and wished for jeans.

wearing: dress // sandals // tote

#4. Dress. I wore a casual dress for our ride down on Saturday and then I wore it to church on Sunday. I’m not big on dresses but it’s nice to have a casual one at the beach to throw on for going out to dinner or even as a backup swimsuit coverup.

#5. Swimsuits & Coverups. I packed 3 swimsuits. I probably only need two, but again, it’s not like they add any significant weight or space to the suitcase so I threw them all in. I can only link one; the other two are old. I have the hardest time finding swimsuits I don’t hate on me. Either they make me feel matronly or they are too revealing.

I have two tankinis from Title Nine with the built-in underwire bras and then a one piece from Boden that I added to my collection this year. I wanted something that didn’t give me strap lines, and I like how it has a body-sculpting lining to keep everything smooth and tucked in.

As I said above, I packed an old pair of jeans shorts and graphic tee to wear as a coverup, which is usually what I wear over my swimsuits to the pool. But at the last minute, I threw in a lightweight hooded coverup that I picked up at Athleta a couple years ago.

I’ve worn both options, and there’s really no rhyme or reason to my choice each day. Generally I like the shorts and tee for the pool because I often want to stop on the way home and pick up a few things at the store, and I feel more comfortable going in the store in clothes. Here at the beach, the coverup is easier to throw on (one thing instead of two, lol) so if I’m trying to pack light in the future, I’ll try to remember to ditch the extra shorts and tee because the coverup is lighter.

wearing: tee // shorts // tote

#6. Pajamas. I like to bring a long pair and a short pair because I never know if the place where I’m staying will be cold or hot. I’ve only worn the short pair on this trip, but I was glad to have the long ones when I was in Maine. See? Options are good.

#7. Loungewear. On longer trips like this, I always try to bring something comfy to throw on in the evenings, but I realized when I packed for Maine that I’d lost my favorite yoga pants so I ended up wearing pajama pants as loungewear. As soon as I got home, I ordered 2 pairs of joggers — a long pair and a short pair (similar).

I brought the short pair to the beach, and I’ve been wearing them almost every day either in the morning or evening with one of my t-shirts and sometimes my thermal hoodie on top.

#8. Hats. I’m not typically a hat girl, but they’re a must for the beach. I brought both a baseball cap and a straw hat. I want to be a straw beach hat kind of girl, but they always feel so dramatic, lol. I typically opt for my baseball cap instead.

#9. Beach Bag. Duh. But I had to mention it. This straw bottom tote is my go-to this summer. It’s nice and roomy, it has an interior pocket for my phone, and the leather straps are comfortable on my shoulders.

#10. Sunglasses. Another obvious item but I can’t really write a beach packing list without sunglasses. I brought a pair of Maui Jims to photograph for an upcoming post with them as well as a pair of old faithfuls in case I didn’t like these as much. I’ve worn them both at one time or another but obviously only really needed one.

#11. Workout Clothes. I brought my favorite sports bra, running shorts, and tank top to run in along with my running sneakers. I was able to fit in a couple morning runs on the boardwalk so I’m glad I had them.

#12. Miscellaneous mentions. Once I got my clothes and beach gear squared away, I threw in a bag of makeup, a travel hair dryer, my Olay Daily Facials, my favorite sunscreen, and other essential toiletries.

I carried a tote with all of my purse essentials, but I also threw an off-white crossbody into my suitcase, and I’m glad I did because that’s what I’ve been carrying when we go out to dinner and to the boardwalk.

I think that about covers it! What did I miss?

It’s hard to believe it’s almost time to pack up and head home. We’ve had a nice week. Although the weather could be better, it hasn’t precluded us from being on the beach, which is all that really matters I guess. I really like having a house to ourselves. It’s been a good experience and I’m sure we’ll do it again sometime!

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