As we enjoy the first week of our road trip, I thought I would share an oldie but goody post. This is republished and updated from when I originally shared it in July 2015!

Nothing says the upcoming Independence Day holidays (4th of July) like a day at the beach. If it is summer where you are, no doubt you have been to the beach or are planning to go. Today, I will share the best items to have in your beach tote, whether you are a parent taking the kiddos, enjoying some alone time, or meeting family and friends.

The beach can be a sandy or grassy area, on or near a body of water whether it is a lake, a river, a bay, or the ocean. I grew up on the beaches of San Diego and also spent some beach time next to lakes and rivers in Yosemite. I also languished for years on wind-swept beaches of the Sacramento River Delta, but our recent move has placed us near Lake Spokane and its river tributaries. Whatever your beach experience looks like, there are smart ways to enjoy it by being prepared.

Let’s start with the right bag

Pictured here is one I use. I bought this online in 2015 through the lady who sells the huggable hangers, Joy Mangano. This is not an endorsement, but many of her products are inventive, useful, and very practical.


This bag has it all. It is a good size with comfortable handles for hands or shoulders. It also has two side pockets large enough for water bottles or sunscreen. Inside is another deep, interior zippered pocket. This bag is unique because it also has an insulated zippered section to store cold items (use a freezer pack or ice).

If you hate how sand gets into everything as much as I do, this bag even has a solution for that. The bottom has a zippered pocket with a mesh top. Unzip, sand falls out, and everything else stays in. Store your sandy flip-flops or swimsuit in this spot, too. Genius! Sadly these are no longer available online but I believe similar ones are out there.


When I was a kid and young teen, my mom used to pack our beach gear in brown paper bags. I felt silly hauling those things from the car to the sand. I swore I would never use grocery bags, although I have used the reusable canvas bags on occasion.

Because of that childhood memory, I consider myself the Queen of Tote Bags. I have a few.


Guys, (or ladies) if you are reading this, a backpack will work for you. Dakine (shown here) makes the perfect sturdy backpack with lots of pockets. A large back pocket can even hold your wet clothes or even an entire wet suit! I have used this, too.

Now that we have the tote bag, what goes inside?

If it is just you heading to the beach, (boy, are you lucky); here are my recommendations for a wonderful, leisurely day at the beach. For easy access, first, place the following items in a small pouch:

  • Car keys/fob
  • Cash and/or debit card
  • Driver’s License or picture ID
  • Sunglasses
  • Reading glasses
  • Phone
  • Lip Balm with 15-30 SPF
  • Optional–Cosmetics, moist towelettes

Add these essentials:

  • Towel
  • Change of clothes
  • Swimsuit
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Water Bottle
  • Book, magazine (or E-reader).
  • Writing implement; notebook/journal
  • Camera
  • Music with earbuds
  • Snack and/or Sandwich
  • Beach chair and/or blanket (may not fit into tote)

Optional Items, depending on your activities:

Umbrella and beach chairs
  • Ice Chest
  • Wet suit
  • Snorkeling gear
  • Umbrella
  • Rentals—at many beaches, you can rent equipment like life jackets, surfboards, SUPs, kayaks, chairs, umbrellas, etc.

These same tips can be applied if you have your partner with you. In my case, I add an ice chest with water, beer, snacks, and a bottle opener for hubby. He really needs that ice-cold beer after a session of windsurfing. Most public beaches do not allow alcohol or beverages in glass containers, so check the beach rules before you go.

If you are a parent taking kids to the beach, pack the following:
Include all of the above AND:

  • Extra tote bag
  • Life jackets
  • Beach toys, ball, Frisbee
  • Sunscreen for children (sensitive skin)
  • Sun shelter
  • Patience

Safety TIP! If you drive and intend to leave valuables in your vehicle, try to store them in the trunk or out of sight BEFORE you park in the lot or on the street. Do not put your purse or valuables in the trunk while parked. Thieves wait for these opportunities to break into cars once they watch someone doing this!

Travel Note: We arrived safely in the Sacramento River Delta area and are enjoying camping in the trailer just like old times, catching up with old friends. We leave here early next week for San Diego.

Remember, no Sunday Stills until July 3rd when we take a look at “beautiful beaches.” Please visit the Sunday Stills Photo Challenge page for more details. I know this beach tote has already come in handy while we’ve been traveling. Take good care!


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37 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: What’s In Your Beach Tote?

  1. Now, this explains a lot! LOL You are super prepared. For our little trip to the lake I had my little bag filled with a swim suit I didn’t use- no towel, and a sun shirt I did use. Wow, now that’s preparation. No water, no sunscreen, no extra shoes in case mine fell off into the muck, no life jacket, no paddle board, no snacks, no money – Vince had money and cards, though so we were good. Now if I could just internalize all your preparedness I’d have my life curated. 🙂 BTW I’m linking this to my coffee share post today.

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    1. Oh you’re funny, Marsha, but thank you for that compliment. And think for a moment about what I had to prep to pack for RV living, heat, water time, random cool evenings, eating out, etc. I was lucky I packed the dress that I ended up wearing to the funeral. Three small bags that I literally adjust each leg of the trip. Lol! Thanks for the shout out. Jodie and Janet shared their experience with the blogger meet up. Such fun!

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      1. It was great fun. I’ve read several of Jodie’s posts now, and I loved the one about laundry. Who knew someone could get so excited and have such good ideas about doing laundry!

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  2. Love those huggy hangers Terri. And sounds like your beach bag has all the same stuff as mine, lol. Except I also like to carry a spray bottle for when there’s no pool around. 🙂 ❤

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  3. Wow – it’s been a few years since I hit the beach Terri. That sounds like a very good beach to have and I like the idea of the zip out portion to shake out the sand … for something so tiny, sand is difficult to get rid of every last granule of it. Enjoy your stay with friends and continued travel.

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  4. That is such great advice, Terri. I’m always terrified about leaving my wallet, phone etc on the beach if I go in the water. What do you think is the best solution for them? Toni x


    1. I’ve never had a problem with that, Toni, I believe there is an unwritten law about people leaving beach gear and camping sites alone. One can hope. Otherwise, put the wallet and phone in your glove compartment discreetly.

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