What Super-Travelers Always Have in Their Beach Bags

Enjoying the sand and sun is a quintessential part of summer, whether you’re on a tropical vacation or visiting a local beach. And while there’s always room for spontaneity, a truly enjoyable day at the beach requires a bit of planning and forethought for most of us. (I’m not the only one who’s been burnt to a crisp because I thought I brought sunscreen, right?)

Building a solid list of beach bag essentials requires trial and error as well as time. To save you the stress, we asked beach lovers and those who travel to sandy locales regularly about their tried-and-true essentials. Keep reading to see what dozens of super-travelers are carrying in their beach bags this summer.

This article has been updated with new information since its original publish date. Additional reporting by Kaitlyn Menza.

Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon, travel writer and on-air travel expert

“I’m on a plane for my work as a travel writer three weeks out of every four, most often headed to Caribbean resorts. So when it comes to beaching it, I’m an expert. I always have sunscreen, a long-sleeved swimsuit, and a water bottle with me. For my body, my longtime favorite is Supergoop’s Unseen body sunscreen, which goes on smoothly and is completely invisible on my skin. The brand’s Glowscreen in the shade Sunset makes my face look airbrushed, with a subtle lit-from-within sheen.

I want to protect my skin from the sun, but I want to do it in style. Long-sleeved swimsuits and rashguards are a staple in my swimwear collection, and I’m always drawn to colorful versions. I’ve had this one from Axesea for several years and it hasn’t faded—still looking good as new.

Hydration is key when you’re basking in the sun, so I always have my own bottle with me for ice water (and the occasional rum punch to-go). I have 19-ounce and 32-ounce FreeSip bottles from Owala. I love them because they keep drinks cold all day, never leak, and come in bright colors.”

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen Body SPF 40

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen

Axesea women’s long sleeve rash guard surfing one-piece

Owala FreeSip bottle, 32-ounce

Rani Cheema, founder and travel business coach at Cheema’s Travel

“I like to keep it simple when I go to the beach because I despise carrying the whole summer seasonal section of Target with me. I never regret bringing a beach umbrella that sits low to the ground. Not only does it protect me from the sun, but it also protects me from sand that gets kicked up by the wind. I would love to upgrade to a pop-up tent/canopy. Another must-have is my backpack cooler. I love having my arms free and carrying a bulky cooler across the sand is never fun.”

Sport-Brella Premiere umbrella

Hydro Flask 20-Liter Day Escape pack

Diana Bernal, communications specialist & travel designer

“I’m all about keeping my beach bag as lightweight as possible while bringing everything I might need for the day. My essentials include a lightweight sheet or Turkish towel, my collapsible HydraPak Stow Water Bottle, a light-colored baseball cap, and a waterproof Aloha pouch to stash my phone, AirPods, and Kindle. I also never leave home without my SPF lip balm, mineral sunscreen, and an electrolyte drink mix, like Liquid IV, for extra hydration. I love to hang out till sunset—my favorite time of day—but golden hour can also bring mosquitoes, so I make sure to pack a stick of natural, lightweight Quitch repellent balm to keep the critters at bay.”

Aloha Collection Monstera Max Pouch

Aloha Collection Tropics Small Pouch

Huckberry Mediterranean Turkish towel

Quitch bug repellent balm with geraniol

Chris Leavitt, content creator and mixologist

“I tend to be pretty minimalist when it comes to the beach and fit nearly everything I bring into a tote bag. The must-haves are: my favorite Wu-Tang beach towel, sunblock, my go to Ray-Bans, a small Bluetooth speaker, a refillable water bottle, and a book I’m currently reading. If I know the concessions nearby are going to be abysmal, I’ll grab a cooler and stuff it with a hoagie and a local canned six-pack.”

Slowtide Tiger Style Wu-Tang towel

Ray-Ban hexagonal flat lenses

Ava Jules, Hawaiian beauty and lifestyle YouTube and TikTok star

“Every time I go in the ocean I make sure to use reef-safe sunscreen. This mineral option from SunBum is my favorite. My all-time-favorite bucket hats are from Lack of Color, and I can’t go anywhere without a lip balm. Glossier’s smells like cherries and has a cute red tint.”

Lack of Color Wave bucket hat

Jennifer Ploszaj, chief marketing officer of WATG

“I love my sky blue Goyard Saint Louis PM Bag as a beach bag—it’s super lightweight, easy to carry, and the attached interior pouch keeps my valuables compact and within easy reach. I never leave home without my waterproof Kindle Paperwhite, Tom Ford Jennifer sunnies, and the Epionce tinted sunscreen. Because I love to swim in the sea, I also pack the Baby Bum conditioning detangler. If I bring Ozzy, my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, I bring his Chuckit! Ball (which floats), as well as extra treats, a towel, travel water bowl, and his puppy umbrella.”

Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition

Epionce Daily Shield Lotion

Sun Bum Baby Bum conditioning detangler

Ashley C. Ford, New York Times best-selling author of Somebody’s Daughter

“I didn’t learn to love the beach until I realized I was allowed to love the shore more than the water. I pack my bag with a new book—hopefully something compelling—a bottle of water, a wireless waterproof speaker, snacks that won’t get sandy or soggy, a big towel, and I carry an even bigger umbrella. It’s all about comfort.”

JBL Flip 4 waterproof speaker

Sport-Brella Versa-Brella

Emily Cheng, travel nurse and CEO/co-founder of MedVenture

“Summertime is prime time to soak up all the Vitamin C and D. Some of my favorites for a fun and sustainable beach day include my UST Flexware Mess Kit to keep fresh fruits, hummus, and pretzels, or seaweed salad free from sand; my lightweight yet warm UST Capen 1P blanket to keep me bundled while I watch the sunset; my recycled Sunski sunglasses; and iced tea in my refillable Takeya water bottle.”

Takeya 32-ounce Originals insulated water bottle

Sofia Ancira, founder and co-designer of Sanlier swimwear

“For individuals with fair skin like me, safeguarding that skin is a daily routine. This Colorescience shield is hands down the best face sunscreen and comes recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation. It doesn’t leave me sticky or greasy, has a matte finish, and has no weird sunscreen smell.

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