Top Must-Haves for Your Beach Bag

Top Must-Haves for Your Beach Bag

by Bianca I Laureano

As a July baby I adore the beach. From planning which location to visit, to soaking up the sun, I love making waves on the sea! I don’t even mind the sand that follows you home and stays around for a few days. However, one of the most challenging parts of the entire beach trip, aside from which swimsuit to wear, is what to bring! For all of you facing this same dilemma, here are a few unisex (and gender specific) reminders for when you head to la playa.


The Obvious

Lobster red and a gorgeous glow are two different looks to achieve at the beach. Vitamin D is important for us all to get a healthy dose of, but we’ve also got to be prepared. When it comes to getting a sun kissed look, it’s all about prevention. Make sure you bring sunscreen and remember to reapply after swimming, exercising, and/or after a few hours of initial application. The higher up in SPF you go, the more protection you’ll receive!




Tanning Oil
If you want to get a tan like I often do, sun tanning oil is a must, especially one with SPF to prevent sun burns. I like to select one that specifically has sunscreen in it to avoid burning. I often begin with applying tanning oil and hop in the water. When I come back out, I then put on sunscreen with a higher number. I alternate and never put oil on my face because I don’t like how it feels on my skin. However, if you want to give bronzers a break, look for oils that are non comedogenic, meaning that they won’t cause acne breakouts or clog your pores.




If you’re not into letting the warm air dry you off, you must bring a towel or two. It also makes a good spot to lie on if you don’t want to bring a blanket or sheet. As a curly haired woman, I’ve become very fond of microfiber towels, which are lightweight and highly absorbent. I use them for my hair to soak up excess water without having to keep it wrapped up for too long.





I’m a frugal kind of gal, so I prefer to prepare fresh snacks at home, rather than spend extra money on local food. If I’ve got to pay to get on the beach, believe that I will be there all day long and get my money’s worth! One thing I’ve noticed is that having portable refrigerated bags is easier to carry individual items versus dragging a filled cooler. You can often get these bags at the grocery store in pairs, or at some of the more “pricey” organic shops that will give them to you for free when you purchase ice cream or other frozen items. Some snacks I like to pack that don’t melt include mixed nuts, 100 calorie packs to satisfy my sweet tooth, juice boxes, and fruit cups. You definitely want to be aware of any rules for the beach you are going to about bringing certain items, such as glass bottles. Most importantly, leave the beach how you left it: clean! There are always trash bins on the beach, so there’s no excuse to litter!


Bottled Water
I put this as a separate item because it’s important to stay hydrated at all times, especially in the summer. Make sure you bring enough water for yourself to not only to quench your thirst, but to also limit snacking portions. You’ll look and feel good!






Is it really a beach trip without them? Some folks have their “beach chancletas” and others have the ones they wear everywhere. Regardless of your budget, you are sure to find flip-flops that can meet your needs that can range from $1-$100! One suggestion I can make is to avoid wearing flip flops that have any metallic or metal work on them as once they are in the sunlight they can burn your feet.





Change of Clothes (Bottoms for the Ladies)
I love my bathing suits and if I could, I’d rock them year round! However, I adore the tops of my bathing suits; the bottoms are more about function for me. As many folks out there, I am not a fan of sitting around in a car or subway in wet bottoms. I usually bring extra clothes and some undergarments to change into when I’m ready to leave the beach. This not only helps me have a more comfortable ride home, but I can also avoid any bacteria festering and evolving into something I really don’t want as a reminder of my time at the beach. Most beaches have bathroom stalls for visitors, or you could find a fast food restaurant and change. If push comes to shove, change in the car if you drove.




Sunglasses & Hats
One of my favorite accessories are my sunglasses. I would never leave home without them in the summer. I’m also aware that if I don’t want to have a really bad tan line of them on my face, they must be removed when I’m taking in some sun. I also make sure to put a little more sunscreen on the parts of my face that are elevated, such as the forehead, cheekbones, nose, and chin. Plus, you can check out folks on the beach if you wear your sunglasses. Hats are also a must-have and can be a great fashion accessory. When shopping for hats, look for one that actually fits your head! Ladies, this applies to us as well. Sometimes the brim of large hats is a bit too floppy and perhaps going down a half size (if available) can help the brim stay a bit firmer.



I’m a reader and a music lover. I usually pack my bag with a book and my charged iPod. There’s no other way for me to do the beach, even if I’m with friends, as I’m known to head to the beach sola. Sometimes I’ll pick up a cheap coloring book that comes with crayons and bring that along too. My friends have also brought their handheld games, some playing cards, and inflatable beach balls, all of which can be extremely affordable.





The Not-so-Obvious


Feminine Hygiene Products
Ladies, know that if there are some surprises during the summer we can usually seek out other women to see if they brought what we forgot. I don’t think any woman enjoys being unprepared in such a situation, let alone on the beach! It’s a good thing there is a new brand of products for women that include panty liners, tampons, and pads called Moxie that come with carrying cases. These are packaged in cardboard boxes with pink or blue pinstripes and a real satin bow on top make them the least intimidating feminine product to purchase.




After Sun Lotion
Sometimes we don’t realize how burnt we are until after we’ve gotten out of the sun. That burn of the sun hits us when we least expect it, which is why it’s a good idea to be prepared with some after sun lotion that has some aloe vera in it for relief. There are also after sun lotions that have aloe and are created to help keep your tan for as long as possible. It never hurts to pack a tube to put on once you are headed home. Before hitting the beach, put some aloe vera gel in the fridge. At the end of the day, your skin will have an extra cooling relief.





Lip Balm
If we are protecting our body it’s important to not forget our lips, which can also be affected by the sun. Not only is lip balm portable and accessible, but they're necessary year-round.







Hair Ties
If you’re like me and like your locks, but they make you super hot, a ponytail holder is part of your summer arsenal. However, I’ve realized that I need to bring at least two of them in case one breaks, or even bring a clip in case I get a headache. I’d suggest bringing hair accessories that you are not in love with, as they can get lost if a wave knocks you down. This happened to me with one of my favorite hairpins and I’ve never been able to replace it since!




Baby Wipes/Tissues/Paper Towels 
Get the chuckle out before continuing to read. Make the Terrance Howard joke. The point is that sand gets everywhere (unless you are lucky enough to be on a white sand beach which is a totally different story). One of the things I must have with me is a way to clean my hands, feet, legs and any other part of my body that remains sandy after I’ve left the beach. Let’s face it, you pack up and have to walk on the sand to wherever the end of the beach is. That means sand is following you all the way to the restaurant, bathroom, car, and subway. There’s just something about sand that makes me feel a bit dirty and having baby wipes or at least paper towels helps me feel as though I’ve got clean feet that are sand-free.



Hand Sanitizer
Along the same lines as “not wanting to feel dirty” hand sanitizer is a must-have year round! There’s a reason why you see dispensers in the hospital: because it works! I used to work at a New York City-based hospital in and hand sanitizer was everywhere. I also prefer it in spray form as it can help keep my nail polish on longer. If you want to reduce your exposure to any germs you may have come into contact with at the beach, have this readily available.





Insect Repellent
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the idea of mosquitoes seeing my body as their main course for the day. I end up looking like I was unprepared and violated in ways I never imagined. Add to that the itch and sting that can come with those bites. Unfortunately, insect repellent is one of the first things I forget until I get bit! Lucky for us, there is now sunscreen that has insect repellent in it as well and doesn’t have a strong odor.





What is Always Forgotten


Powered Cell Phones
Before heading to the beach, charge your cell phone. It’s safe to assume that you will not find an outlet on the beach, so plan ahead to charge your cell phone.







First Aid Kit
First aid kits are essential, especially for parents, but even adults can get injured.  Make sure that you have some vinegar in your kit as some beaches have jellyfish and they sting. One of the first things to do if a jellyfish stings you is to pour vinegar on the injury to make it heal quicker. There’s no reason to be in a painful situation, so get a small travel size container and fill it up with vinegar.





Nail Care Kit
Don’t get mad if your fresh manicure/pedicure you got the day before going to the beach gets chipped. This will happen. The sand will exfoliate your skin but may also rub off the color. Get your nails done after the beach! Then you can show off your new sun kissed skin!



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