Families on the beach in Gulf Shores, AL

The Family Beach Vacation Packing List

Learn what you need in your bag for a perfect day on the beach with your family!


Wading in the Gulf, building a sandcastle, eating fresh seafood, working on a tan – these are just a few of the things everyone looks forward to on a beach vacation. However, before you can hit the sand, you have to pack. And, no matter how hard you try, inevitably something gets left behind. 

Don’t worry! We have compiled a list of helpful things you need for a beach day with kids on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Yes, some of these items are no-brainers, but, hey, when you’re trying to pack for everyone in the family, it’s easy to forget the most obvious supplies.

What to Pack for a Beach Trip with Kids

A couple of beach chairs on Alabama's beaches

1. Sunscreen. Every beach vacation traditionally means hours spent in the sun. Make sure to pack the waterproof kind and enough to reapply multiple times throughout the day for each member of your family. You can never have too much, TRUST US! 

2. Sunglasses for the entire family. These aren’t just to make you look cool. They can help stop UV rays that reflect off the water and sand from hurting your eyes. 

3. Towels.  Although many Gulf Shores and Orange Beach hotels and resorts provide complimentary towels for use at the hotel or condo pool, these towels are not for beach use. As such, you’ll need to bring your own beach towels with you.

4. Beach Chairs.  Plan to bring some type of seating. For some, that means beach towels or blankets, and for others, that means beach chairs. To create your own shade, consider bringing your own beach umbrella or canopy. Don’t forget to grab them before you go as items left on the beach will be picked up and discarded by the city to help support the Leave Only Footprints initiative. You can always rent chairs and umbrellas directly at the beach.

Beach toys for the kids in Gulf Shores, AL

5. Beach Bag or Tote. To carry all your stuff to the beach, don’t forget a large tote bag or beach cart. Make sure to bring a sturdy one that’s up to the task of carrying a lot of items – some heavy – over uneven terrain.

6. Water and Snacks. Spending a lot of time on the beach with kids means you’ll need lots of water and snacks. It’s crucial to keep everyone hydrated while playing in the sun, and parents know that kids get hungry seemingly every 10 minutes. Pack enough for all-day snacking! 

7. Entertainment. While there are folks who are content to spend hours sunbathing on the beach, there are many others who want more entertainment. Bring along beach toys and games as well as a favorite book or some magazines.

8. Swimsuits and Cover-Ups. You may think you won’t forget them, but you’d be surprised at how many people forget to pack swimsuits, cover-ups, flip flops, sandals and hats. Including them in your packing checklist ensures you will be dressed for the beach. If you do forget them, there are plenty of options for shopping. Traveling with infants? Don’t forget the swim diapers.

Specialty Items

When you start considering everything you need to pack for a family beach vacation, the resulting group of items can be overwhelming. However, it doesn’t have to be! The good news is you don’t have to bring everything and the kitchen sink when traveling to the Alabama Gulf Coast. There are a number of rental companies supplying everything from baby cribs and wheelchairs to kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and beach chairs. Visitors can even rent golf clubs from area golf courses. Visit Specialty Rentals on the website to check out beach vendors, and find exactly what you need to make the most of your Gulf Shores and Orange Beach vacation.


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