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By Anna Fishman

Who doesn’t love warm sand, cool waves at their feet and a refreshing drink in hand? Even though endless summer days are over, this is nothing that a short flight to the Caribbean can’t fix.

I love looking forward to a vacation, but I don’t love packing for the trip. Having to make a packing list just to realize that you forgot a bunch of stuff once you get to the hotel is definitely not the right way to start your hard-earned vacation. To help jump-start your packing process for a beach vacation, we made this handy list of beach essentials.

#1 Flip Flops

No matter where I go on vacation, I pack at least two pairs of flip-flops. For beach vacations, I take 5 pairs – two of different color for the beach, one for the room (a clean pair to wear after the shower), and two to walk around the resort or go to town. No, it’s not too many pairs, because they take up minimal space in the suitcase, less than any other type of shoes. The key is to have very comfortable flips flops. My favorite brand is Ipanema. They make very cute and soft flip-flops that make my feet feel like I am in a spa. They are a little more expensive than the Old Navy brand flip flops, but they are softer and cuter. Also, if you buy them off-season you can score a good deal. Flip flops – check!

#2 Sunglasses

Another essential no matter the destination. I know my fashionistas love their Prada and Gucci sunglasses (Warby Parker is a great marketplace for those) and you can certainly bring those with you as well, but when you are covered in sand and sea salt you don’t want to worry about scratching or losing your sunglasses in the water. TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack are my go-to destinations for budget sunglasses. Bring two pairs with you. You don’t want to pay three times the price at the hotel gift store if you lose your only pair of sunglasses. Trust me, I have done that plenty of times!

#3 Swimsuit

Bring at least 3 pairs. Because of the humidity in the tropical destinations, it may take more than a day for a wet swimsuit to dry, so you always want to have a spare dry swimsuit with you. Your local stores usually carry swimsuits only in the summer, so if you are embarking on a journey in the winter months it might be a challenge to find a swimsuit in the store. They sell a lot of swimsuits brands, and Amazon Prime will deliver those in two business days with an option of free returns if they don’t fit. You can’t beat that!

#4 Sun Hat

A baseball hat, a stylish fedora or a straw cowboy hat, no matter the style, you need one! Don’t risk getting overheated and sun poisoned; you worked hard for your vacation, so don’t risk ruining it when it is so easy to prevent. Always wear a hat outdoors during the peak sun hours between 10 am and 5 pm and drink plenty of water! Amazon is a good place for hats as well.

#5 Floating Chair 

HA! I see you raising your eyebrows! A floating chair or a mattress is the best investment you will ever make for your vacation. I came across this idea when I was prepping for a trip to Hawaii. Upon realizing that because our hotel was not on the beach we would have to rent beach chairs for $15 per chair every day during our 10-day trip, I decided to look into other options because I could not bring myself to spend $300 just for chair rentals alone. Bringing our own chairs all the way to Hawaii was not an option and buying one on the island for close to $100 was also not an attractive idea. So I started looking for an alternative and I found this floating chair mattress which changed the way I vacation forever. $15 investment in one of these is so worth it. It is very compact when it is new and deflated, so it won’t take a ton of space in your suitcase. Yes, it is a bit heavy, so put them in the little carry-on suitcase, since those typically don’t get weighed. To inflate them, tip the recreation guy at the resort and he will inflate them for you in minutes. Not only are they super comfy to sit in (you can put them directly on the sand or on top of the beach lounge), but you can also bring them into the pool. Just be careful using them in sea water – you don’t want to drift off too far. When your trip is over, don’t bother deflating them – it will be very hard to do, and, frankly, you don’t want to do it. Just give it to someone on the beach and make their day! Fill up the free space in your suitcase with souvenirs instead!

#6 Suitcase

Speaking of souvenirs – shopping for them is my favorite part of any trip, but worrying about how I will bring them back home is the least favorite part. So I found a solution in a hard-case carry-on suitcase. I can fill the space I freed up from the inflatable chair mattresses with fragile souvenirs and not worry that they will get crushed on the way home. Hard-case suitcase will protect them in the overhead compartment of the plane.

#7 Pool Noodles

No, not the ones you boil, but the floating ones. They are super cheap, light and fun for anyone in the pool. Your kids will love them the most. You can just float on them in the pool or the ocean (especially if you opted out of the inflatable chair mattress). Just stick them in your carry-on backpack – even if they are sticking out, it’s not a problem. Look for them on Amazon as well.

Yes, you need one, at least 30 SPF to protect you (and especially your face) against harmful UV rays. These are my two favorite ones – Lancome BIENFAIT MULTI-VITAL SPF 30 LOTION for the face. It is a moisturizing face lotion that has 30 SPF, not greasy at all, great for sensitive skin. Coppertone Ultra Guard for the body is great as well. Not greasy, quick drying and water-resistant.

#9 Book

I do like holding a paperback in my hands when I curl up on a couch next to a fireplace. But on the beach, when my drink is dripping and my hands are covered in sunblock, I want something beach-proof. Download a few books to read or audible ones to listen to on your Kindle, iPad or phone (here are some suggestions for a great beach read on Amazon), and get a waterproof case. Not only are you protecting your device from sand and water, but you can also float on your inflatable chair mattress in the pool with your book. Oh man, I wish I was in the pool now doing exactly that!

#10 Selfie Stick

Yes, I said selfie stick. I have been using one since 2007 when no one even knew about them and every time I would take one out to take a picture an amused stranger would stop and ask me what it was. My selfie stick was for a digital camera, not even phone! Honestly, it is a great invention and one of those things I wish I thought of. Get one and you won’t regret it. And you won’t have to ask strangers to take lousy pictures for you. My favorite “lousy picture” story happened on a beach in Jamaica. I asked a random guy to take a picture of my husband and me with a beautiful sunset in the background. The guy took forever to figure out the best angle to take the picture from, so by the time he actually took a pic, the sun went down and he did not catch it. When we looked at the pic, he said: “Oh, I am sorry. Come back tomorrow and I’ll try again!” Facepalm!

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