The ultimate guide to packing your beach or pool bag this summer!
Summer is officially here– let’s all take a sec to pause and reflect on how great that is– and I hope to spend as much time as I can at the beach or at the pool. In addition to some great vacations, I was lucky enough to grow up spending entire summers on the beaches of Greece, and while I won’t be there this summer, I definitely consider myself an expert beach-goer. These are the must-have essentials which you can find in my beach bag, and which you need in yours!
Links in pink, below, and at the bottom of the post.
A tan is important, but protecting your skin is more important. I won’t bore you with information you’ve probably heard a million times, but applying and re-applying SPF while laying out in the sun is key. My all-time favorite SPF and tanning products can only be bought in Europe (womp womp); when I’m in the U.S. I generally stick to Sun Bum or Australian Gold products. I buy separate sunscreen made especially for the face, such as Dr. Jart+ Sun Fluid, to reduce the chance of clogging my pores and breaking out from using a heavier product meant for the body. Also, using a chapstick with SPF is a necessity for me– my lips legitimately burn if I don’t!
I’ll be real here and admit I’m a little bit (or lot a bit) of a diva when it comes to being outdoors. Like any sane human being, I hate bugs, and yet they tend to be quite attracted to me and I get bitten a TON. Nowadays, I like to keep a bug spray in my beach bag and spray the area around my lounge chair periodically (I try to avoid spraying my actual skin unless necessary). I highly recommend Jessica Alba’s Honest brand of bug spray which I buy here; it’s the perfect size and is packaged in a cute, slender spray bottle, but more importantly, it’s organic and doesn’t contain DEET. And unlike other bug sprays, this one actually smells pretty good since it’s made with essential oils like citronella and cedar– another plus!
Aloha Collection Splash-Proof Pouch
I recently discovered the brand Aloha Collection, which makes splash-proof travel bags in rad designs. I picked up a small pouch in the shaka sign design (pictured up top), because I’m a sucker for a good shaka. 🤙🏼These pouches are fantastic for those who frequent the beach, as you can use them to either store a wet bikini without it dripping all over the rest of your belongings, or you can instead use it to keep things like your cell phone and wallet dry (hence being “splash-proof”). If you use it the latter way, it makes for a cute beach clutch which you can take with you if you’re running to a food truck or the restroom and don’t want to lug your entire beach bag with you, instead just stashing your necessities. And while I haven’t tried this out yet, I think it will solve the issue of what to do with your wet swimsuit on the last day of vacation when you have to pack up your suitcase but want to get some last few hours of beach or pool time in.
Headband & Hair Clip
I love having long hair, but can’t stand dealing with it at the pool or beach. It might not look as cute, but it’s necessary for me to keep it out of my face and off of my neck. I always put it up in a hair clip– NOT a ponytail holder– because elastic bands are more damaging to your hair, especially if your hair is wet after you’ve gone swimming. In addition to clipping it up, I always wear a headband or head wrap to ensure that my hair stays completely out of my face. I often get these at Forever 21 or at Free People, which come in pretty patterns or cool textures. Some great options below:
Though I enjoy wearing my round metal aviators shown in the top photo, my true “go-to” sunglasses for the pool or beach are a pair of brown tortoise Ray-Ban Wayfarers which are polarized. I find that it’s more comfortable to wear a “chunkier” pair of plastic sunglasses that are less likely to slide off your face rather than a thin metal pair which tend to feel a bit more flimsy. This particular pair features curved sidebars which slightly hook behind your ears, making them more secure to wear in the water, and polarized lenses help to reduce glare from the sunlight, giving you clearer vision. And as a fun side note, polarized lenses allow you to see through dark ocean water more clearly (in case you want to check out fish, or avoid them, like me). When buying a pair of polarized sunglasses, I suggest opting for a style which is timeless rather than trendy; I got my Wayfarers years ago and will be able to wear them for years to come because they are a classic style.
Extra Pair of Bottoms
I always keep an extra pair of bikini bottoms in my bag, preferably a pair which matches the bikini I’m wearing that day. Most medical professionals agree that females should not sit around in wet bathing suit bottoms after going for a dip, and hopefully you can connect the dots (or Google) as to why not. To prevent any undesirable after-effects, I recommend changing into the dry pair of bottoms once you’re out of the water. If you don’t have a matching or similar pair of bottoms, consider changing into your non-matching pair before your swim, and changing back into your original bottoms afterwards to still look put-together while you’re laying out.
For the record, I think the best bloggers out there are those who are super open with their readers, and my goal is always to keep it as real as I can with y’all, hence my sharing this!
Coconut Oil (optional)
If my beach day coincides with a hair washing day (depending on my hair washing schedule– if you know, you know), I like to put coconut oil in my hair before putting it up in my hair clip, and letting the oil soak in while I am laying out. The heat from your scalp will actually allow the oil to penetrate your hair strands deeper, for a more moisturizing effect, and I wash it out at home after the beach. SheaMoisture’s coconut oil comes in a travel size which is perfect for bringing along with you, however if you plan on applying it AT the beach or pool, store it in your cooler rather than your beach bag. Coconut oil melts in high temperatures, and you don’t want to discover a sticky leak all over your belongings.
A hat is a MUST to protect both your face and hair from the sun. Though I feel more attractive when my face looks tan (who doesn’t?), I would rather self-tan my face rather than let the sun have at it. By now we should all be aware that UV exposure causes premature aging (a.k.a. wrinkles, dark spots, and leathery skin) and personally, I hope to look as young as possible for as long as I can. In addition to wearing SPF on my face, I always cover up with either a sun hat or a baseball cap to help block out those harmful rays. My mom has amazing skin for her age and people are always shocked to find out how old she actually is; her secret? To rigorously protect her face from the sun with SPF and a large brim hat.
Also, if you highlight or color your hair, the sun fades your color, can make it appear brassy, and dries it out– more reasons to cover up with a hat. I recommend designating a certain hat as your “beach hat,” since salt water can sometimes fade or warp fabric; pick one which is inexpensive and won’t bum you out if it gets soaked or lost.
OTHER BEACH BAG NECESSITIES:
- Earbuds for listening to music
- A pack of tissues and hand wipes
- Benadryl Itch-Relief Spray (to use on bug bites)
- Feminine products (just in case)
- Magazines and/or a book
- A snack bar
- Tons of water!
What do you keep in your beach bag? Any items I should add to mine? Let me know in a comment! Plus, stay tuned for a round-up of the best cover-ups, beach sandals and bags to come.