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Must-Have Beach Vacation Packing List Traveling with Toddlers

Hi Friends! If you follow me on Instagram Stories then you already know we have our first trip to the beach as a family of four. Thomas is now 15-months old and his older brother Michael is 2.5. We have made countless trips to the RIVAH over the years but this coming weekend is our first family beach getaway! 4 days, 3 nights… all of us snuggled in one hotel room! Wish us luck!!

My mom’s side of the family has a family reunion every year over July 4th weekend (close to 100+ in attendance most years!) and a gathering filled with laughs, family stories, and dancing! Tons of fun! We haven’t been back in 2-years (pre-baby!) so this is the first year we’re going with toddlers. While we’re obviously excited to see everyone!!… I was quite overwhelmed when it came to the packing list this week… SO much to bring along with 2 toddler boys in tow!! Pretty much packing all the things!! Also the stress that comes along with littles on the beach… gotta bring my A-Game! But… it’s gonna be great!

In the spirit of summer vacations upon us… I thought I’d feature a blog post on my OCD packing list in case this is helpful for YOU as you pack for your next family vaca. Now, a quick disclaimer… I’m an over-packer! You may already know this based on what I packed in my hospital bag, LOL. I tend to pack some odd-ball random things that I will likely need while I’m there so I’m ultra prepared. The key is to consolidate the packing (have everything in a bag so it’s easy to transport) and not go too overboard.

SO! I’ve put together the ultimate beach family vacation packing list (for toddlers!)… I’ve organized it into sections and included Amazon links below! Let me know if I’m missing anything! {Not photographed above… all of our food/drinks and mom/dad overnight bags.}

A few other travel tips prior to hotel check-in…

  • Call the hotel one-week in advance to confirm reservation + call day-of to request an early check-in.
  • If you’re traveling with friends/family then request for adjoining rooms! More space to move around.
  • Contact friends/family in the area of where you’re traveling to lockdown a babysitter for one of the nights — that’s what we did for this trip but not too sure how it will all go. It helps having my parents adjoining rooms with us so the babysitter can be in there while kiddos “sleep” in the other room.
  • Most hotels offer a microwave and fridge in the room… I prepped (fruit/snacks/meals) in advance and put them in ziplock bags to put in fridge at check-in.
  • Search around for fun things to do in the area — we’re going to the aquarium one morning! Michael is so excited!!
  • Take deep breaths and go into the vacation with a flexible schedule and a sense of humor! I’m fully counting on the boys waking up super early… like 5:30AM… just because it’s a new sleeping environment for them… so will be pleasantly surprised if they sleep in until 7AM!
  • Check out my Instagram Stories on how I strategically organize our hotel room upon check-in to maximize space in our room for day/nighttime + keep it baby proofed! I’m going to have Ryan take the boys to the hotel pool while I get us unpacked and settled in the room.

Packing list…

  • BOB Stroller (the Cadillac of all strollers! All-terrain tires for the sand is a must. Great for strolls on the beach, providing shade, and it reclines all the way back for naps!)
    • Waterproof picnic blanket
    • Camera/tripod – As a photographer, I’m obviously bringing this along but lots is captured on my phone since it’s what I have on me at the time. Thank goodness for the iPhone 10X’s amazing camera where I can basically shoot in manual mode!
    • Booster seat – For Thomas’s meals
    • Stroller hooks – These are seriously AMAZING!! Heavy duty and great for holding purses, backpacks, shopping bags (and anything else with a handle!)
    • Stroller cup holder – For hands-free morning coffee (and happy hour!) walks
    • Baby Bjorn – To hold Thomas so me/Ryan can be hands-free with him in the ocean/pool
    • Puddle jumpers
    • Bike lock – Great to keep attached to the stroller for when you want to lock it up and pop into a store, restaurant, coffee shop, etc.
  • Beach cart – We got ours at Costco but there is a similar one here. It holds all of our beach gear and has a cooler!
    • Pop N’ Play Playyard – To keep Thomas contained in one place and out of the sand as much as possible! You can also use a fitted sheet, a baby pool, or dig a big hole in the sand for little ones but Thomas would just crawl out of that.
    • Umbrella/screw – The sand corkscrew is a game-changer!
    • Baby float/canopy – Great for the ocean/pool for Thomas so I can be hands-free in the water
    • Beach chair – We got ours at Costco but here are similar ones. The Tommy Bahama chairs are great because they typically have straps to wear as a backpack, have pockets, a cupholder, and a built-in cooler. Yes, only bringing one beach chair — will be lucky if I actually get to sit down and relax on the beach, LOL!
    • Beach toys
    • Beach towels and hooded towels
    • Cooler – To hold all of the snacks, fruit, water, etc.! Will use the free hotel ice! Ours is from Costco and I love all of the pockets for storage!!
  • Beach Bag or you could use this amazing backpack diaper bag (went viral on my YouTube channel!)
  • BOYS:
    • Pack n’ play/sheets (for Thomas) – Hotels will often offer these but with it being a holiday weekend I didn’t want to chance it.
    • Single air mattress/sheets (for Michael) – Easy to deflate and roll-up in the morning to conserve space in the hotel room
    • White noise machines/lovies/night lights/books
    • Baby gate – Because we will have adjoining rooms with my parents
    • Potty chair (for Michael)
    • Travel medicine/aloe – I bought some Zarbee’s sleep melatonin liquid for the kiddos to help with all of us sleeping in one hotel room!
    • Baby cam – To hookup to hotel WiFi (we plan to have a sitter for 2 of the nights!)
    • Clothes/PJs/sleep sacks/shoes
  • OTHER MUST-HAVES:
    • Hitch Cargo Trailer – We love our Yukon because it’s so spacious but this cargo carrier has been a game-changer! Great for holding large items (i.e., stroller, cooler, etc.) for road trips and it helps spread out all of the luggage so it’s not stacked too high and causing blind spots in the trunk space.
    • Shower curtain tension rod/shower curtain – To provide a divider for Thomas in his pack n’ play
    • Bose/charger – My go-to speaker for on-the-go!
    • Trash bags – For dirty diapers (to keep on the hotel patio), laundry, excess trash, etc.
    • Hand sanitizer – For beach bag, diaper bag, purse, etc.!
    • Nightstand fan – Have to have a fan on me!
    • Nightlights – So we can more easily navigate the room in the dark while the kiddos (are hopefully!) asleep
    • Extension cord – For the extra needed outlets I know we’ll need!
    • iPad/case/charger – For screen time during witching hour…
    • Wine opener – Yep!
    • Plastic plates/utensils – For meals in hotel room
    • Food prep! I’m planning to make sandwiches, rinse/slice fruit, prep lunches before leaving on the vacation so everything is ready in advance

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