How to Pack for Spring Break

Spring break is just around the corner which means beaches, road trips and uncharted adventure await. Whether you are going to party like crazy with your college friends, relax with the family, live it up on a girl’s weekend or enjoy a couple’s retreat, here’s what you’ve got to pack for spring break at the beach. 

Convertible car driving on winding road, spring break trip

Bring what you need for a safe road trip. If you are taking a plane, you can skip this section, but if you are planning an epic road trip, it’s important to set out prepared. If you pack your car correctly, your vacation won’t be completely ruined if you break down, get lost or have a flat. Here’s what to bring:

  • Spare tire | If you are planning an epic journey to the coast, you really shouldn’t leave home without checking up on your car’s spare tire. Do you have one? Is it reasonably inflated? Do you know how to put it on? Do you have the AAA number if you don’t know the first thing about cars? Having a plan for what to do if you get a flat will help you recover from the experience without derailing your vacation. 
  • Extra water | It’s always a good idea to pack a few gallons of water in your trunk. You never know when you might need them. If your car breaks down, someone gets really thirsty, or if you become stranded, it’s nice to know you have life-savign water on your person. Besides, if you are going to the beach and maybe having a few drinks, it’s good to stay hydrated. 
  • A blanket | Yes you are going to somewhere warm, but you might need a blanket as you drive through the frigid northland. If your car breaks down, someone gets sick, or your passengers are cold, you have a solution. Plus, maybe you need a beach blanket? 
  • A flashlight | Flashlights are great for unexpected walks in the dark, car trouble and really unexpected anything. Your phone might have a powerful flashlight feature, but it’s nice to have a light source that points in the direction you want it to go and that fits comfortably in your hand. 
  • Batteries | Batteries are great to have along. You might want them for the flashlight. Your camera might die, or you might need to power your ancient portable CD player one more mile. You never know. 
  • Extra food | There is nothing worse than a hungry, cranky carload of people you thought were your best friends. Bring food for meals and then bring a bit more. You’ll thank yourself at mile 456 when you cannot drive another foot without a candy bar, or if you prefer, a carrot stick. Besides, if you breakdown, you’ve got snacks to buoy everyone’s spirits.  
  • Jumper cables | If your car won’t start, it’s nice to have your own jumper cables because other drivers never have them when you need them. 
  • Utility knife | Maybe you like perfectly sliced apples, maybe you need to perform a quick fix on your car or a piece of technology. A utility knife comes in handy and you know you’ll have it if you ever need to go into wilderness survival mode. 
  • Ice scraper | Sorry, but you might need an ice scraper. Maybe ever a shovel, a tow rope and some cat litter if you’ll be driving through real winter. Rest assured you won’t need these items once you get to the beach, but you’ll have them for the trip if you need them. 

First Aid Kit on the beach

Bring a first aid kit. What you put in your first aid kit is really up to you and depends on the activities you’ll be enjoying. If you’ll be hiking, or if you are drinking to the point of insanity, you might want to make it heavy duty. Otherwise, a few Band-Aids and things will suffice. Don’t forget:

  • Advil | There are all sorts of reasons why you might need Advil. Many places outside the U.S. don’t sell it and it’s useful for headaches, hangovers, aches and pains, injuries and more. 
  • Bandages | Just a handful of Band-Aids will do the trick here. If you trip and fall, scrape yourself on a coral reef, cut yourself on glass, or have bleeding mosquito bites, you’ll be prepared. 
  • Tweezers | There’s nothing like jamming a piece of boardwalk into your bare feet. Pack the tweezers so you can pull it out. Glass silvers, insect stingers, you name it and a particularly pointy pair of tweezers will do marvelously. 
  • Toiletries | Don’t forget your favorite toiletry items. It’s no fun to have to hunt down new ones when you’d rather be playing. Forgoing your toothbrush for the week is not an option. For ladies who wear make-up, remember it will probably bake and run all over your face if you are lounging on a hot beach or frolicking in the waves. Pack the stuff that you think can withstand the wind, heat and water. 
  • Disinfectant | If you get a cut or scrape it’s nice to have rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, iodine or something to clean it with. 
  • Antibacterial cream | Antibacterial cream is for nasty cuts and gashes that you are afraid will get infected. Bring some along and hope that you don’t have to use it.  

Woman taking sunbathing on beach towel wearing hat

Pack your own beach kit. You’re obviously going to need a swimsuit, but what about those things that aren’t that obvious? Plan ahead and you’ll be happy you didn’t forget that extra cover-up or nose plugs. Here’s what to bring:

  • Sunscreen | Bring your own sunscreen because it’s frequently marked up at beach destinations. Make sure you actually slather the stuff on regularly because sunburns hurt and they lead to wrinkles and skin cancers later in life.  
  • Sunglasses | Sunglasses help your tired eyes keep from overworking themselves in the sun. Besides, if you have polarized lenses, you can look past the glare on the water and see what’s below. 
  • Beach towel | Your hotel might have one, but it probably won’t be very nice. Bring your own towel or towels so you are comfortable on the beach. 
  • 2-3 bathing suits | Wearing a wet bathing suit isn’t fun, so if you are planning to spend a lot of time on the beach, bring an extra suit. 
  • Water bottle | With the hot sun and wind off the water constantly drying you out, it’s important to stay hydrated. For places with safe water, bringing your own water bottle to the beach is a great way to make sure you get the water you need. Remember, that even when the sun sets, it’s still a good idea to keep hydrating, especially if you have a few drinks. 
  • Insect repellent | You won’t need it everywhere, but if you are traveling to somewhere buggy, it’s nice to have along. 
  • Chapstick | Your lips are going to get dried and sunburned. Bring along a chapstick with sunscreen to help protect your lips. Who knows, maybe your spring break date will find your smooth, unchapped lips alluring, 
  • Flip flops | Flip flops are great for preventing injury to your feet and for keeping yourself clean. Bring some along for quick beachy footwear. 
  • Cover-up | If you are at the beach all day, it might be nice to get out of the direct sunlight for a bit. A cover-up helps block the sun’s rays and can be a nice thing. 
  • Hat | Hats shade your eyes and keep your scalp from looking like a boiled lobster or worse, flaking skin off like snowflakes. Bring a hat that’s fashionable enough for you to wear regularly. 

Athletic Woman Running on the Beach

Don’t forget regular clothes. His and her packing lists might be slightly different for this one. Just pack the clothes you think you’ll need. That might be:

  • A sweater or jacket | It might get chilly every so often, especially at night so a sweater or jacket is a good idea. 
  • Pajamas | Pajamas are easy to forget, but you’ll want them if you are sharing a hotel room. They are also nice to lounge around in. 
  • A nice outfit | Bring something you could wear out to dinner: a dress, nice pants, whatever it is. You may need to pack special shoes to go along with it because flip flops won’t cut it everywhere. 
  • Workout clothes | If you plan on working out, designated clothes keep everything from becoming disgusting. 

And definitely bring the fun and useful stuff. You know, the stuff that doesn’t really fit into a category but that you still need? You’ll be more than happy if you remember to pack:

  • Your cellphone charger | It’s really easy to forget your charger and it’s nice to have a working phone so that you can contact friends and family regularly or make plans. 
  • Corkscrew/bottle opener | You might want this if you are a college student. 
  • A safe purse, wallet or bag | Make a plan for how you are going to manage and safeguard your money. You’ll need to carry it in something secure. Keep an eye out for thieves and pickpockets. It’s really easy to pick up someone’s unattended wallet while they are playing on the beach. 
  • Camera | Your phone camera works, as does a nice digital. If you are trying to make crazy memories, it might be safer to stick with a disposable camera. Sand and water are not nice to camera shutters or smart phones. 
  • A book | Pack a fun book or some other way to pass the time while you are lounging. 

Heading to the Caribbean instead? Here are The Only 10 Items You’ll Need to Pack for Your Bahamas Vacation


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Carmen Fifield

The delight of finding an unknown park, a captivating history museum or a fantastic desert means exploration is never far from Carmen Fifield’s mind. Carmen’s favorite travel memories include biking to historic sites on the island of Guernsey, huffing and puffing up the stairs to the Great Wall of China and eating the most delicious crab cake ever in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Carmen’s Favorite Travel Tip: Say goodbye to airplane food and tuck some fruit and your favorite sandwich into your carry-on.