My family and I spent 30 days in Europe with just a backpack each, so it’s safe to say that we are big fans of minimalist travel! If you’re trying to do some minimalist packing for a beach vacation, you’ve come to the right place. I not only have some minimalist packing tips for you, but I also have a list of what you should pack to help you get it done.

Heading off to the sun-soaked shores for a relaxing beach vacation is an exhilarating prospect. But the excitement can quickly turn into overwhelm when you start to pack clothes and other necessary items. 

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The key to stress-free travel lies in adopting a minimalist packing approach, allowing you to focus on the joy of your destination rather than the contents of your suitcase. I know some of you are thinking this could not possibly work, but trust me, it can!

Maybe you need to keep items at a minimum so you only have a carry-on bag, or you just really want to find out what it feels like to have less weight, literally and figuratively, on your trip. Either way, these tips are a great way to be on your way to becoming a minimalist packer and have a really fun beach vacation!

The Benefits of Minimalist Packing

In my opinion, the pros totally outweigh the cons of packing light. I used to be an over-packer, trying to stuff all the things I never even used when I was at home into a suitcase, overflowing into a tote bag, and sometimes more. After my family and I had done some traveling, though, I realized half of the things we packed we didn’t use, or we really could have done without. Here are some of the reasons I love minimalist packing: 

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Reduced Stress and Decision Fatigue

Minimalist packing eliminates the need to make countless decisions about what to wear or use during your trip. With a simplified wardrobe and essentials, you’ll experience less stress and decision fatigue, allowing you to focus on enjoying your vacation.

Efficient Packing and Unpacking

Packing and unpacking become more efficient with a minimalist approach, especially when you’re traveling with kids! With fewer items to organize, it takes less time to prepare for your journey and settle into your accommodations. This efficiency leaves you with more time to explore and relax.

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Increased Mobility and Freedom

Lightening your luggage load enhances your mobility and freedom; whether navigating crowded airports, maneuvering through narrow streets, or taking public transportation, traveling with fewer possessions provides a greater sense of ease and flexibility.

Cost Savings

Minimalist packing can save you money in various ways. Airlines charge for excess baggage, so packing light can save you money on luggage fees. If you keep your belongings to carry-on luggage only, you won’t have to pay a checked bag fee. 

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Easier Transportation

When you’re traveling with your kids, having less baggage simplifies transportation logistics. Maneuvering through airports, fitting your belongings into rental cars, or even taking public transportation becomes more manageable when you have a compact and well-organized suitcase. For us, backpacks were the best way to go because then all of our kids could carry their own bags without too much complaining. 

Faster Security Checks

Streamline your airport experience by packing light. Security checks become faster and more straightforward when you have fewer items to inspect. This not only saves time but also reduces the hassle of unpacking and repacking at security checkpoints.

Focus on Experiences Over Possessions

With fewer possessions to manage, you can shift your focus from material belongings to the experiences and memories your trip offers. A minimalist mindset encourages you to savor moments, try new activities, and create lasting memories without being weighed down by unnecessary items.

Encourages Mindful Consumption

Adopting a minimalist approach to packing promotes mindful consumption. Instead of succumbing to the urge to overpack, you become intentional about the items you choose to bring. This mindset extends beyond travel, encouraging a more conscious and sustainable approach to consumption in daily life.

Easier to Keep Track of Belongings

With fewer items to keep track of, the chances of misplacing or forgetting belongings decrease. A minimalist packing strategy helps you stay organized, ensuring that you have everything you need without the stress of searching through an overstuffed suitcase. Again, this is very helpful when traveling with kids for short or long trips!

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Tips for Minimalist Packing

1. Plan Ahead

Start your packing journey by planning ahead. Consider the length of your stay, the weather forecast, and any specific activities you have in mind. Having a clear idea of your itinerary will help you pack only what you truly need.

2. Create a Capsule Travel Wardrobe

A capsule wardrobe is a collection of versatile, timeless clothing items that can be mixed and matched effortlessly. When packing for the beach, focus on beach essentials like lightweight, breathable fabrics and neutral colors that can be easily coordinated. Light-colored clothing is best for Summer holidays, and a light jacket is a must-have too.

Learn more about my Europe capsule wardrobe HERE

3. Multi-Functional Clothing

Choose items that serve multiple purposes. For instance, a sarong can double as a beach cover-up, a beach towel, or even a picnic blanket. Opt for clothing that can be dressed up or down, offering flexibility for different activities.

4. Use Packing Cubes

To maximize space and minimize wrinkles, roll your clothes instead of folding them and put everything in packing cubes. This technique not only saves room in your suitcase but also makes it easier to organize everything.

Here’s some of our Favorite Packing Cubes HERE

5. Limit Shoe Choices

Shoes can quickly consume valuable suitcase space. Depending on your travel plans, you might want to select a comfortable pair of sneakers for walking and a versatile pair of flip-flops or sandals that can be dressed up or down. Wear your bulkiest shoes while traveling to save even more room.


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6. Toiletries in Moderation

Embrace travel-sized toiletries to keep your beauty routine minimal. Consider multi-functional products, such as a moisturizer with SPF, to reduce the number of items you need to carry. Many destinations offer the option to purchase toiletries locally if needed. 

7. Digital Over Paper

Opt for digital alternatives whenever possible. Rather than packing a stack of books or printed itineraries, load your e-reader and store travel documents on your phone. For traveling with kids, download books, shows, or movies for entertainment while you’re traveling. Not only does this save space, but it also contributes to a more sustainable travel experience.

8. Only Pack What You Know You’ll Use

If you’re wondering if you’ll need something or not, leave it. If you have to think about it too much, it’s probably not an essential item. This is especially important if you’re taking a short trip. If you know you can go a week without something you might normally use once or twice a week, leave it.

9. Laundry Solutions

If your vacation extends beyond a week, plan for laundry or consider staying in accommodations with laundry facilities. This allows you to pack fewer clothes and refresh your wardrobe as needed. When we traveled through Europe for a month, we stopped to visit family and we were able to do laundry. But finding places to do laundry is easier than you think in most places; plan ahead for this and make sure you will be able to get laundry detergent.

What to Pack for Your Beach Vacation

Now that we’ve covered the minimalist mindset and practical packing tips let’s delve into the specifics of what to bring on your beach holiday. The following curated list covers the travel essentials so you’re well-prepared without overburdening yourself. Obviously, this packing list is essential items for one person, so each of your family members will need (most of) these items.

1. Swimwear:

  • Bathing suit or swim trunks (2-3 pieces)
  • Rash guard for sun protection
  • Cover-up for strolling on the beach

2. Clothing:

  • Lightweight tops (3-4)
  • Breathable bottoms (shorts, maxi skirt, or light pants) (3-4)
  • Comfortable walking shoes (pair of white sneakers)
  • Sandals or flip-flops
  • Light rain jacket or sweater for cooler evenings

3. Accessories:

  • A pair of sunglasses with UV protection
  • Wide-brimmed hat for sun protection
  • Beach bag for carrying essentials
  • Reusable water bottle

4. Toiletries:

  • Travel-sized shampoo, conditioner, and body wash
  •  Mineral sunscreen with high SPF (reef-safe sunscreen is a great option)
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss
  • Minimal makeup (if desired)

5. Tech and Entertainment:

  • Smartphone and charger
  • E-reader or tablet for reading
  • Headphones
  • Portable charger

6. Documents and Essentials:

  • Passport, ID, and travel insurance
  • Wallet with necessary cards and cash
  • Any required medications

7. Optional Items:

  • Snorkel gear
  • Compact beach umbrella
  • Portable speaker for music
  • Travel-sized first aid kit

More Travel and Packing Tips: