Packing the Perfect Beach or Pool Bag

Packing the Perfect Beach or Pool Bag

You are about to be spending a lot of time at the beach or poolside! Whether it is the lake or the ocean, the community pool or the country club, any time you go swimming you want to keep all your little necessities with you, and you'll have a much better time if you add items to maximize your comfort and convenience. Here, we're going to make suggestions about what to include in a perfectly-packed beach bag

We assume you already have a wardrobe of swimwear to suit different needs and occasions, whether you choose a full-coverage rash-guard-and swim-capris outfit or a brief bikini, as well as cute cover ups and sandals, so this is all about your bag and what to put in it to have the best, most relaxing time possible at the beach or pool.

The Bag

Personally, I love a capacious canvas tote for my beach bag, and a monogram is a must! I want something sturdy, that I can use year after year, that can stand up to harsh treatment. Sand, cement, salt water, chlorine, beathing sun, grubby little ice-cream-covered hands, being dragged by exhausted children, smashed blueberries, wet towels forgotten for days. . . these are all real things my beach bag has been subjected to, and a well-made canvas tote can take it! If you spend more time at the beach than the pool, you may prefer a quick-drying mesh that will allow sand to fall away easily; it's a practical solution for regular beach-goers.

Absolute Must-Haves:


You'll want the generous sizing of a beach towel if you like to lie on the towel to cat-nap in the sun, cover up a scratchy lounge chair, or wrap up against an unexpected breeze. Traditional velour or terrycloth are both excellent options, but thirsty Turkish Cotton beach towels are becoming more and more popular, and my family loves them. Your beach towel is ideal for a monogram; it's a practical luxury that will help prevent mix-ups and make identifying your own towel easy if you accidentally leave it somewhere. Every beach bag should include a towel, so a perfectly packed one surely will!


Load up! Whether you prefer a spray or lotion, have plenty of your preferred sunscreen, and enough to share is always a good idea. Include a stick-style sunscreen for easy application to the face, and a lip balm made specifically for sun protection. The lips are often overlooked when considering one's sun protection, and sunburned lips hurt.


You'll be out of doors, getting some exercise and enjoying the sun and water. Dehydration would put a major damper on your fun, and remember that by the time your body tells you you're thirsty, it's already low on hydration. Drink a bit whenever you are out of the water just to keep up with your fluid intake.


Whether you're like me and wear a hat whenever you're in the sun, or just use one when you are fully exposed, a hat is a necessity at the beach or pool. You can choose a pretty wide-brimmed straw hat, a cute Facesaver, a practical bucket hat, or a casual baseball hat; as long as you protect yourself, the style is up to you! I like to wear my hats in the water if I'm just playing with my daughter or bobbing around to keep cool; it's a personal choice I make due to my extremely pale skin while my olive-skinned husband only wears a hat if he's lounging or playing in the hot, reflective sand. Figure out what's right for you!


Whether you wear them to protect your eyesight or to stave off wrinkles is your business, but you do have to wear them! Make sure they offer full UVA/UVB protection.

Protective Phone Case

Keeping your phone in a waterproof case or even a plastic baggie can prevent a minor catastrophe. It only takes a minute but protecting your phone could save a huge headache as well as a lot of money.


Concession stands and hotdog vendors often prefer cash. A few small bills tucked into a canvas zipper pouch can make the difference between enjoying a cotton candy on the beach or not, and a perfectly packed beach bag definitely supports me getting cotton candy! A sturdy zipper pouch, which I generally roll into a spare towel, is a good place to discreetly keep my car key, anyway.

It's Sure Nice to Have:

Hand Towel

I always throw a hand towel into the bag, right on top, to remind everyone to dry their hands before they dig into the bag for diving toys or a snack. This keeps the items in the bag drier and cleaner. People are surprised by this addition, but lots of folks at our pool have borrowed the idea it makes a big difference in our comfort!


My daughter likes to get a junk food snack at the concession stand as much as any kid, but I like to make sure that we have some nourishing foods snacks to complement the fun foods snacks! Fruit, nuts, cheese sticks, whole-grain crackers, crudit, etc. Just include a cold pack and insulated bag if you have any selections that need to be kept cool for food safety.


This suggestion encompasses a lot of potential items. If you have little ones, they may want sand toys, goggles and diving toys, or a soft-sided Frisbee for playing a pick-up game with other kids. Figuring out what will help them spend time independently is a win-win. They get toys, you get peace! Adults may choose a novel or crossword puzzle, knitting or needlepoint, or simply to scroll Insta and catch up with pop culture. If you're using your phone, consider bringing a power bank so that you can take as many videos and watch as many Facebook Reels as you like.

Hygiene Items

To be as comfortable as possible, consider including wet wipes, hand sanitizer, lotion, a hairbrush (and hair ties for those with long hair), baby powder great for removing sand at the beach or preventing chafing on damp skin as well as any other small personal items you can't do without. For myself, I like being the mom with the magic bag; if someone needs it, I generally have it! It makes me feel secure to know that I can meet any minor emergency calm and prepared.

It Won't Fit in Your Bag, But. . .

Want a fun or hilarious floatie? Get it! There are more inflatable pineapples, doughnuts, swans and unicorns available than ever before, so enjoy floating around in festive style! Do you prefer to lie on a proper picnic blanket to save your towel from dirt or dampness from the grass? They're readily available! Would you be more comfortable with a portable beach chair or lounging mat? Lands' End has some terrific options! Feel like you need the sun protection of a big beach umbrella or sunshade tent? Take one along! If there is anything you can easily take with you to the beach or pool that you believe would enhance your comfort and fun without impeding anyone else's good time, do it! Time spent waterside is meant for relaxing and creating memories, so don't hesitate to make things fun and memorable!

Packing a perfect beach bag is about meeting your needs, whether your goal is to travel light with just the necessities or be prepared for whatever a family adventure can throw at you. Consider our suggestions and add or eliminate things based on what makes you comfortable and how you want to spend your beach or pool time. One thing is certain, and it's that you will have a lot more fun if you aren't stressed about forgetting sunscreen or a drink, so take the time to double-check that you are prepared for a day of fun in the sun with a perfectly packed beach bag!


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