Everyone loves the prospect of a holiday, especially when there will be a beach nearby - but let’s face it, packing for these trips can be a chore. What do you take for a week of winter sun in Tenerife, or a fortnight on a Greek island during the school summer holidays? Our handy guide might help you decide.
The following are must-haves that should be a top priority, as you won’t get far at all without them.
Make sure you have your passport, it’s still valid and it has at least the minimum length of time left that’s required by the country you are visiting. Many countries stipulate, for example, that you must have at least six months’ validity remaining when you travel.
If you need a visa, make sure you have the relevant document. It’s also wise to email yourself - and perhaps someone else - a copy.
If you have a train or plane ticket or boarding pass, do make sure you have these with you. If it’s digital, ensure you can access it to show at check-in - and ensure your phone or tablet is charged in readiness.
Again, this is one to email a copy of, but also make sure you take a paper copy with you if you have one. Hopefully you will never need this, but if you do have to claim in the event of an emergency, you’ll be very glad you have the details to hand.
Plus charger, of course!
Make sure this contains any credit or debit cards you need, as well as cash. At least a small sum in the local currency is useful to have ready.
Though you might not need them for a couple of weeks, you certainly will when you return, so make sure you carry your keys onto the flight with you rather than putting them in the hold. You could always store them safely in the hotel upon arrival.
If you take regular medication, it’s essential to take enough with you for the duration of your stay. If possible, take a copy of your prescription too - just in case. You may also wish to take a first aid kit, and of course you’ll need plenty of sunscreen.
If you wear them, glasses or contact lenses are certainly something you won’t want to leave home without. You may also need a pair of prescription sunglasses.
Now we’ve covered the necessities, you might be pondering what to pack for those long, relaxing days in the sunshine. Here are various items of clothing you might need - as well as some related accessories.
Try to pack for the kind of holiday you’re aiming to have - as well as the destination.
Modesty may be a concern in certain beach holiday resorts, although the rules for tourists are often more relaxed. For women, it’s wise to take something to cover your shoulders with if visiting a Muslim nation, as well as skirt, dress or trousers that reaches to below the knee. Men should not go bare-chested beyond the beach itself, so they’ll need t-shirts and/or shirts.
If you plan to spend pretty much all day, every day at the beach, you may need little other than a few sets of swimwear and some shorts and t-shirts.
More practical clothes are useful when sightseeing - think layers and pockets as well as comfort if you’re going to be travelling for some time.
If you’re planning to party by night, then you will need to pack accordingly - or at least so you can dress up a little for dinner if you’d like to.
As you begin packing, sort out which jewellery you’ll be wearing for the journey. It’s best to wear anything of monetary or sentimental value, so it will always be with you. Costume jewellery can be packed in the hold - but if you’re particularly fond of it, why not take it on board? After all, it’s not likely to take up a lot of room in your carry-on bag.
Think about what you’ll use during the day for the beach as well as sightseeing trips. You may also want to pack a different bag, or two, for the evenings.
In a hot climate, you might want to change your underwear more than once a day; for example, you could take a set for the daytime and for the evening, per day. Don’t forget that if you travel out on a Saturday and back the following Saturday that’s eight rather than seven days’ worth. Of course you might well end up spending all day in your swimwear instead - this is a holiday, after all!
They might not seem necessary if you’re going somewhere hot and sunny and plan to wear sandals, but socks could come in handy if you’re walking, hiking or sightseeing, or during inclement weather - it does happen.
Once more, think about what you plan to do. A couple of pairs of flip flops might suffice, but will these be comfortable and safe if you go exploring ancient ruins or for a long walk in the heat? You may also want to take different shoes to wear for dinner or evening drinks.
Something loose and comfortable is ideal, so you won’t suffer from clinging night clothes in the heat. You may also be surprised to find that you need an extra layer of cover if the hotel’s air-conditioning is in full flow. A dressing gown can also be handy if you’re staying in a property where this won’t be provided.
You might need to pack your own bath towels and tea towels for self-catering holidays. If you’re based in a hotel, they would normally be provided, but you might need a beach towel to sit on, and a quick-drying microfibre towel always comes in handy.
If you have a little one with you, then you’ll have to plan more carefully. Some say the smaller the child, the more luggage - and it’s an adage that many parents will find rings true. The following are some of the items to consider.
Go for a high factor formula that’s designed for baby’s skin - and make sure to apply the first layer before you set out.
Cheap, light and easy to pack, this is essential for protecting delicate scalps against sunburn.
If you plan to take your little one into the water, a supply of swim nappies is a must. Don’t forget some spare regular nappies or pull-up pants too (as well as the potty if they’re at that stage).
A sun tent can provide vital shade from the burning sun. Opt for one with strong UV protection if you can.
This can give you shelter and privacy, as well as helping to stop inquisitive small ones from wandering too far away from you.
Either can provide a soft barrier between baby and the sand.
Take a cool bag full of water and snacks - that fresh sea air can make babies hungrier as well as thirstier! You may also need formula milk and bottles, or baby food.
A pack of wipes is always essential when kids are around.
This doesn’t have to be anything formal or complicated - a supply of antiseptic and a few plasters might well suffice.
You might find some sort of rubber ring, life jacket or armbands helpful.
Don’t forget to have fun - pack that bucket and spade, plus perhaps a beach ball or other toys.
Babies aside, what do older children and grown-ups need when they head to the beach for the day? Some of the following items are obvious choices - others perhaps less so.
Unless you want to parade around in your smalls, this is a top priority. It’s a good idea to wear it under your clothing if there will be no changing facilities at the beach.
You might need more than one towel - one to sit on, and one to dry off with after a dip. Microfibre towels are compact and dry rapidly, while a sarong makes a good alternative to a beach towel.
Apply some before you leave and take more with you to top up during the day.
A pretty obvious choice.
It’s not only babies who can benefit from the protection of a sun hat - especially one with a wide brim.
Never go to the beach without hydration. Yes, there might be shops, but they can close or sell out. Frozen bottles are great, as they do thaw quickly when it’s warm but keep your drink cool for longer.
…a change of clothes, and an extra layer for warmth if the weather gets colder. Beach chairs, a tent and/or a windbreak can make you more comfortable, and you might want to pack a picnic - or at least some snacks. A first aid kit is a good idea, especially for those with children, and don’t forget some form of entertainment. A good book and a pack of playing cards can be very effective in keeping beach boredom at bay.