Gabrielle Porcaro
Updated August 02, 2019
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It doesn’t matter how many vacations you’ve been on; when it comes to packing your suitcase, it always feels like the first time. You suddenly become clueless à la Kevin McCallister, and have no idea where to start. Does this sound familiar?

Don’t let the question of what to pack for vacation at the beach stress you out. First, focus on key pieces that do double duty and are versatile. Find a sundress that works as a coverup and as a cute dinner outfit. Choose sandals in black or tan so they’ll work with everything. These key pieces don’t require a splurge. You can buy them and still have money for margaritas pool-side.

Starting with a checklist will certainly help you streamline what you need in order to avoid any overpacking. You’ve already mastered your toiletry bag (if you haven’t, check out our travel tips for beauty products), so now it’s time to channel your inner Kondo and finally be able to close your suitcase without having to sit on top of it.

Check out this list of 10 items that will get your packing off to a great start. Don’t forget a great beach read and some sunscreen.

1 Carry-On Backpack

Slipping a backpack over our shoulders always brings us back to the relatively carefree days of childhood. Carry that vibe with you when you pack this one as your under-seat bag for the plane. It also comes in handy for any sightseeing excursions or trips to the beach.

2 Reversible Bikini

Although bathing suits don’t take up a ton of room, every inch of your rolly bag counts. This bikini allows you to choose a floral print one day and an army green solid the next.

3 Fun Flip Flops

A brand new pair of flip flops is a must for any beach trip. This pair is a collaboration between Havianas and fellow Brazilian brand Farm Rio, which is known for its colorfully printed clothes.

4 Colorful Loose Tank

Cotton tanks are breathable therefore perfect for the summer heat. The relaxed, large armholes on this one will keep things breezy—and it makes for a great beach cover-up. Pick a bright color so you’ll pop in all your photos.

5 Cut-Off Denim Shorts

Distressed jean shorts have that perfect “I am chill and relaxed” vibe you want on vacation. This pairs well over a swimsuit or with fun graphic tops.

6 Tropical Print Maxi Skirt

A maxi skirt is an excellent statement piece. To prevent wrinkling, roll it lengthwise before placing in your suitcase. Wear with a white tee or tank for a daytime shopping look or try your black bikini top at night.

7 Sun Protective Hat

With SPF 50+ protection and a wide brim, this will keep you from getting burnt on the sand and/or the streets.

8 One-Piece Swimsuit

If you want some variety, bring a one-piece suit as well. Always good to have some extra coverage for heading to a restaurant for lunch or participating in any water sports. Pick one with an ultra-low back to keep it modern and prevent tan lines.

9 Maxi Dress

Cotton maxi dresses are a dream in humid weather. For nighttime fun, add some gold hoops or bangles.

10 Small Purse

This bag could quite possibly be the perfect vacation bag. Since it’s made from a silk scarf, it will take up less space compared to a straw purse or boxy clutch.