A Minimalist Packing Guide for Your Next Beach Vacation

Posted in Lifestyle, Travel, Travel Tips
on July 1, 2017
Minimalist Packing

Planning for a vacation has always been one of my favorite things to do in life. Except for the part that involved packing. It wasn’t until recently that I realized the minimalist packing approach is the way to go.

Up until the last couple years, I would ALWAYS overpack.  Since then, I’ve really learned to pair down while packing for an upcoming vacation and it’s really been a life saver and HUGE stress reliever.

Essentially, what I have learned is this…

you never care that much about your what you’re wearing and you won’t change as much as you think you will.

Why? Because what’s really important is getting the most out of your trip, spending quality time with your travel companions, experiencing the local culture and eating your face off! Those are way more important.. at least for me.

With that in mind, I’ve created the following guide to becoming a minimalist packing pro. Following that, I’m sharing what I packed for my next beach vacation (which begins today!!!)…

Here are my 5 Tips for Minimalist Packing:

1. Pack what you know you’ll wear.

One mistake I used to constantly make was bringing clothing that I don’t normally wear. Like I would somehow become a different person just because I’m on vacation. In actuality, the opposite happened. I’m even more lazy and care WAY less than I normally do since the trip is really more about escaping from “real life” responsibilities and obligations, especially when I’m on a beach vacation.

2. The smaller the suitcase, the less you’ll pack.

Last year, I invested in the Away carry-on and it’s the perfect suitcase to keep my urge to overpack in check. It’s lightweight and has a capacity of 38L making it a great size – not too small, not too big. Plus, the hard-sided case doesn’t allow for me to overstuff it with items I will never even look at while on my trip. There are so many options out there like this. A smaller suitcase really puts your mind in the right spot before you start tearing apart your closet in a desperate attempt to find the perfect beach wardrobe the night before a trip (if you’re a procrastinator like myself.)

3. Mix and match.

Be sure to bring clothes that you can mix and match. Solid, neutral tees or tanks are a good place to start. Also, jean shorts because they pretty much go with anything. It’s okay to repeat outfits or certain aricles of clothing especially when you only wear them for a couple hours.

3. Lay it all out.

I always lay out every piece of clothing I plan to bring. I make sure I can come up with outfits I know I’ll wear because they are both cute and comfortable. Most of the time I even try them on because I don’t want to be in my Airbnb excited to go out and then realize I hate the outfit I planned to wear. It takes a little extra time but it’s worth it.

4. Multi-use items.

Last year I bought a sarong in Mexico for a measly $10 and guess what?! It’s of the BEST purchases I’ve ever made. I used it as a scarf while in the Pacific Northwest, tapestry at a music festival and currently I’m rocking it as a cover up and beach blanket. It’s proven to be one of the most functional items I can bring on a trip. Also, with one-piece bathing suits making a come back, jean shorts are the perfect cover-up. You now have an outfit you can wear on the beach, shopping or to most restaurants (in a beach town). Endless possibilities.

5. When in doubt, leave it at home.

If there is something you’re on the fence about bringing, just leave it at home. Chances are you won’t miss it when you’re out enjoying yourself in a new place surrounded by beautiful scenery just waiting to be explored. Amirite?

What I pack for my Beach Vacation:

What I’m about to share is packing for a four night, five day beach vacation (on Anna Maria Island – woohoo!) I can’t provide you with a guide to packing for a month trip to Europe because that hasn’t happened for me (yet). However, I can still share with you what I have learned so far on my journey to becoming minimalist packing pro.

Keep in mind, this trip takes place over 4th of July weekend… in Florida. So it’s like really hot. Perhaps making this whole minimalist packing thing a little easier.


Minimalist Packing Beach Vacation

Contents of my Carry-On

3 Tank Tops: Two solids and one stripe. I try to stick with flowy tops that are lightweight.

2 Pairs of Shorts: One pair of jean shorts and another tropical pair that are the perfect beach shorts.

2 Dresses: One off-the-shoulder chambray that I can wear to dinner and one very comfy dress I use for lounging.

2 Bathing Suits: It’s likely we will go to the beach every day. Bringing two ensures one has enough time to dry before wearing again. I’m not one of those people that needs to wear a different suit every day..

1 Skirt: This skirt is silk and will be worn if we decide to go to a fancier restaurant one evening (likely). In which case, I will pair it with the black tank.

1 Romper: Perfect for biking around the island or as (yet another) bathing suit cover-up.

1 Coverup: Since I feel it’s necessary to cover up a little bit for the trek out to the beach.

1 Workout outfit: Beach yoga, anyone?

1 Sleeping outfit: One comfy shirt and one pair of comfy pants that also doubles as a morning lounging outfit.

2 Bras: I love this strappy bra from Free People. I have it in black and red. I can wear them with everything but they’re especially great for shirts or dresses with an open back adding that extra fun flare to the outfit. Although, they don’t have offer a ton of support so unfortunately, they aren’t for everyone.

Undies: You do you on this one.

Pro-Tip: I always include what I plan to wear on the drive or plane ride as part of my packing. It makes things much easier the morning of to already have plan0ned what you’re going to wear. I typically place it on the very top of the packed clothes and just on top on the closed suitcase so I know exactly where to look.

Minimalist Packing Beach Essentials

Roll your clothes so fit nicely in your carry-on

Shoes and Accessories for Beach Vacation

Buy collapsible hats that you can “stuff” in your carry-on without it getting damaged


3 pairs of shoes: Oftentimes, my biggest struggle is with shoes. As you can see, I packed 3 pairs of shoes! Hardly minimal if they fit very nicely and compact in my suitcase.

On this particular trip, this was my rationale.. One pair for every day use, slip-on Kinos for the beach and the gladiator sandals when I need a little heel. Which for me as someone who is 5’1″ makes a big difference.. at least in my head.

So, yeah I’m still working on this one!

1 hat: The most necessary item besides clothing. Too much sun on your face is AWFUL for your skin and causes premature aging. No thanks.

Jewelry: I only bring jewelry that goes with everything and wear it on me while traveling so no packing necessary.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the Amazon product links, I’ll receive a small commission. This does not have an impact on what I write about. I own all of these items and I would recommend them to anyone. All opinions are my own.


Beach Bag Essentials

Beach Bag Essentials


  • Microfiber towel: I was reluctant at first with these because I wasn’t sure how well they would dry me off BUT the material works like a charm and rolls up much smaller than your typical beach towels.
  • Pair of Sunnies 
  • 1 Sarong: One of the most multi-use item I went over in #4 on my list.
  • Selfie-stick: They may look silly but they really come in handy and are super fun.
  • 1 Book: Currently reading – Everybody Writes by Ann Handley. This was a gift from my dad after I told him I started blogging but I’m just getting around to reading it.
  • 1 Adult Coloring Book: I’m LOVING my coloring book right now. It takes me back to art class in grade school and it’s a great way to kill time rather than just sitting in front of the TV.
  • Kindle Paperwhite: I wouldn’t normally bring my kindle AND a book but here’s nothing better for reading on the beach.
  • Midori Traveler’s Notebook: A fun and creative way to document your memories. I just received mine and I can’t wait to fill it up with my traveling adventures.

Of course these are just options. Bring the items that make you happy and ones that you can see yourself actually doing. Magazines, crosswords, etc. Aside my from traveler’s notebook, I may try just bringing one item to focus on during the trip (i.e. focus on one book, one picture to color… you get the point.)


Minimalist Packing Toiletries and Make-up Bag

  • Wide-tooth Comb
  • Natural Deodorant
  • Sunscreen: I have been reading up on natural sunscreen but have not made the transition. But I will doing that soon.
  • Coconut Oilby Conscious Coconut – this is my GO-TO “beauty product.” It’s the ultimate multi-use holistic product out there and it’s great for LITERALLY EVERYTHING. I use it as body lotion, moisturizer, makeup remover and shaving cream (among other things). This means I don’t have to pack ten different products that all have different uses. I highly recommend looking into Conscious Coconut who sells fair-trade, organic and virgin coconut oil. Plus, with every purchase a child receives a meal through Feeding America.
  • Leave-in-ConditionerI have curly hair. This coconut water based, sulfate-free leave-in treatment one is a life-saver.
  • Miss Jessie’s Pillow Soft Curls: Again, if you have curly hair like me, this gel is wonderful and doesn’t leaving your hair feeling crunchy. You’ll get those loose beach waves or curls that look effortless.
  • Shampoo + Conditioner: Since I am particular about the brands I use for these items, I put some of the product in the sample size containers that you can find at the sample section at Target (which I always just reuse). They’ll prevent you from having to carry a huge toiletry bag. Right now, I still have some sample sized shampoo and conditioner that I received in my Birchbox so that’s what’s pictured. Normally, I use the Deva Curl brand.
  • Face Wash
  • Rose Water Toning Mist: Incredibly hydrating and smells lovely. I buy mine from a local maker in Tampa Bay, Nightshift Wax Co. All of her beauty products contain only plant and mineral based ingredients. It’s the bomb..
  • Face Wipes: These are perfect when you’re just too exhausted to wash your face or just want to get some oil off. I take enough to use them once a day and put them in a plastic bag so they fit nicely in my toiletries bag.
  • Natural Deodorant
  • Razor: 5 days at the beach will likely call for some shaving.
  • Cotton balls: Lather up with coconut oil and use to remove your makeup.
  • Sunscreen: I have been reading up on natural sunscreen but have not made the transition. But I will doing that soon.
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste: Truest of true necessities.

Some of these items in the photo are quite large but I wanted you to see the products. I transported those into small travel size containers that I get from Target as mentioned above.

  • Make-up Bag: I usually empty most of the contents of my make-up bag when I go on vacations. I end up using mineral makeup, mascara, bronzer and natural matte lipstick. That’s it. So now I leave the rest at home.


  • ROLL YOUR CLOTHES: It makes it much easier for you to pack and helps with keeping them wrinkle free.
  • Add a DRYER SHEET: Keeps your clothes smelling fresh for the duration of your trip.
  • Pack an EMPTY PLASTIC BAG: I use this to put clothing in that’s still wet when I pack for my departure.
  • Download PODCASTS: For your listening pleasure on the plane or in the car. Right now, I’m really into Melyssa Griffin’s new podcast “Pursuit with Purpose.” This podcast is about living of life purpose (hence the name) so that you can live a more fulfilling life. It’s fairly new so but so far she’s interviewed some very inspiring people.

Lastly, if you’re looking for some jams while packing for your next beach vacay, check out Spotify’s Soaking Up The Sun playlist below. It really sets the mood and helps you remember that packing is just a minor part the experience. So don’t worry too much – YOU GOT THIS.

That’s all folks! Every time I travel, I discover something new I can live without. Take my minimalist packing tips into consideration and I promise you’re next packing will be (at least a little) less stressful.

Happy Packing!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the Amazon product links, I’ll receive commission. All opinions are my own.

BEFORE YOU GO, DO ME A FAVOR: Leave me a comment below letting me know what you think of the post and if any of my tips worked for you. Also, If you have any tips of your own on minimalist packing or packing light, I’d LOVE to hear them!

A guide to packing light for a beach vacation


Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island


  • Melissa

    This was amazing! I used to over pack to the MAX. So many, “just in case” items that I never used! Have been “check bag free” for over a year … #carryononly. Love your tips on packing mix & match, re wearable items. So worth it. Don’t we typically repeat something we wore the day before anyway?! Maybe just me ? And loved your list of make up bag goods. Looking into a couple of your clean things. Loved all of your tips. You are Right. On.

    July 20, 2017 at 9:14 pm Reply
    • localbaysics

      Melissa, I’m thrilled you found my guide to packing light helpful! I was such an over packer and would constantly worry about what I should bring for weeks leading up to the trip. By bringing a carry-on only, I’m worry free. If it doesn’t fit, I’m not bringing it. On this list trip, I wore my jean shorts every. single. day. It’s still a work on progress but sounds like we are on the right track! Next time I won’t be bringing three pairs of shoes because that was a little ridiculous! Lol. If you have any questions about the all-natural beauty products, I’d be happy to answer them. I highly recommend every one of the products in this post, especially the coconut oil and toning mist! If you are looking for a cheaper version of the toning mist, I recently ran out so I started using Witch Hazel. It’s not exactly the same but it’s close! Let me know your thoughts on any of the products you buy. Thanks for stopping by!

      July 21, 2017 at 1:02 am Reply

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