Top 20 Summer Travel Essentials [2024]

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It’s that time of year…summer is quickly approaching and many people are planning their yearly summer vacation.  Summer can be a carefree time full of lazy days by the pool and warm evenings sitting on the patio.

Unfortunately, this time of year can also lead to stress for some. You know, “What the hell am I going to do with these kids ALL summer?!”  (Yeah, me too).  However, your vacation should be a stress-free time, and I am here to help you with that.

Here is my ultimate list of summer travel essentials!  Read this, pack up, and enjoy your vacation. If you’d prefer a printable packing list, check this out: Family Beach Vacation Printable Packing List.

Summer Travel Essentials

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20 Summer Travel Essentials For Your Vacation

Summer vacations in 2022 are going to be a lot closer to normal than they were last year — yay! Whether your vacation is at a tropical beach or around a blow-up pool in your backyard, you’ll have a great time with these summer travel essentials.

1. Reef Safe Sunscreen

I’m a red-headed white girl who doesn’t tan at all so this one is important for me. While a little sun can be good for you, if you plan to be out all day by the beach or pool or even out sightseeing, be sure to protect your skin with some SPF.  It’s best to choose a non-chemical variety that’s reef safe (some locations are even banning certain harmful sunscreens!) My favorite is Blue Lizard because it works well and isn’t super expensive — plus the bottle changes colors in UV light which acts as a reminder to reapply.

Don’t forget lip balm with SPF! I love this one because it’s reef safe, inexpensive, and easy to find.

2.  Beach Sand Drink Holders

These are brilliant and a must-have for a summer trip to the beach! These beach sand drink holders will keep your drink upright or your phone out of the sand — plus they come in fun colors.

3. Rashguard

Rashguards are great for lots of summer activities. They are perfect for boating, scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking, or anytime you’ll be out in the sun for extended periods of time.

4. Non-Slip Polarized Sunglasses

Stop your sunglasses from slipping during a sweaty outdoor workout or long walk during a hot summer day. These  non-slip, colorful sunnies are a definite summer essential — and they are inexpensive so you can get more than 1 color.

Knockaround sunglasses

Read More: Read my full review of these Knockaround sport sunglasses

5. Quick Dry Beach Towel

These quick-drying beach towels are perfect for a trip to the pool or beach. The fun patterns and great color combinations are perfect for a hot summer day.

6.  A Great Beach Bag

Don’t forget a big, durable bag to cart around all of your summer travel essentials! Make sure it’s big enough for pool toys, water bottles, snacks etc.  I like this bag because it has side pockets for water bottles, it comes in fun patterns, and it’s inexpensive.

7.  A Wet Dry Bag

A what?! A wet dry bag is a bag that is waterproof on the inside. I originally bought one when I was using cloth diapers for my daughter, but I have found so many more uses for it.

You can store wet bathing suits in the bag without getting everything else wet. They’re also useful as a “dry bag” to store phones and any other valuables when on a boat or at the beach. You can also use it for dirty laundry.

8.  Avocado Pool Float (and Beach Ball)

Pool floaties are a must for the summer…but a pool float in the shape of an avocado…with a pit beach ball?? Yes, please!

9. A Sarong

A great sarong is super useful on a summer vacation. You can use it on the plane as a blanket or lumbar support and then use it as a cover-up on the beach.

10.  Underwater Camera

We rented the (expensive) underwater camera on my first snorkel trip in Hawaii and loved being able to capture those moments. We have since purchased our own for our snorkeling and scuba diving adventures.

While “Go Pro” is the name you hear all the time, they can get pricey. So, we opted for this less expensive version for our first underwater camera. It’s a great, inexpensive way to capture underwater adventures.

We have since upgraded to a Sea Life underwater camera, but a less expensive will work just fine.

Pro Tip: If you’re looking to up your photography game, but still want an affordable option that won’t be too bulky, check out the Canon EOS M100 mirrorless camera.

11. An Outdoor Blanket

An outdoor blanket is a great thing to have for summer festivals, hiking, or the beach. Look for one that’s large enough to accommodate a few people comfortably and that comes with a travel bag. I love the size and color options on this one, plus it comes with stakes to keep it in place.

12.  Kindle

Don’t forget something to pass the time for yourself. I started using a Kindle when I was traveling and I love how lightweight it is — it’s so much better than lugging a heavy book in your carry-on or beach bag. The newer versions are even waterproof so they are great around the beach or a pool.

Or if listening is more your thing, try a free 30 day Amazon Audible trial for some audiobooks.

13.  Sun Umbrella For The Beach

This SPF 50+ Sun and Rain Canopy Umbrella is perfect for the beach, but it would also be great for sporting events, festivals, or even your backyard! It will also keep you dry if you get stuck in the rain!

14.  Baby Beach Pool/Pop Up Tent

If you’re bringing your baby to the beach this summer, you’ll definitely want this awesome pool/tent combo! This will allow your little one to safely play in the water while also being protected from the sun.

15.  The Perfect Swim Suit

No summer travel essentials list would be complete without the perfect bathing suit. But, let’s be real, shopping for a bathing suit can be soul-crushing. However, it doesn’t have to be.

I love that there are so many cute styles now that will flatter any body type. You don’t have to be a supermodel to strut your stuff around the pool this summer…and don’t be afraid of fun colors and patterns! They will put a smile on your face.

Check out this adorable pink palm one piece (pictured below) or this high-waisted bikini with ruffle pom pom top — both are under $30!

Cupshe Pink Palm One Piece
Pink Palm Print One Piece Swimsuit. Image Credit: Cupshe


16.  Seat Back Car Organizer

If you’re taking a family road trip this summer, these seat back organizers are going to be essential! These durable organizers have plenty of pockets to store books, snacks, and toys.

17.  Towel Clips

How many times are you sitting by the pool or on the beach with a great breeze…that blows your towels all over the place? Now you don’t have to worry — these towel clips will keep your towel in position for the whole day! These are a must for a beach vacation or cruise.

18.  Small Backpack 

If you plan on doing any hiking, a backpack is a must. Try this lightweight, packable backpack for anything from hiking to day trips to a day at the beach. Plus, it packs small so it won’t take up a lot of room in your luggage.

19.  Insulated Glass

Keep your beverages cool this summer whether you’re on the beach, by the pool, or just in your backyard. I love these insulated stemless wine glasses, and you’ll see me using this leopard print one all summer long. These work great for any type of beverage so don’t think they are just for wine!

20. Secret Sunscreen Flasks

If you’re into smuggling drinks, then these secret sunscreen flasks are for you – ha! These look like sunscreen bottles but are actually flasks that hold 10 oz. of your beverage of choice that you may want to sneak onto a cruise, to a beach, or to a summer concert.

Top Tips For A Memorable Summer Vacation

  • Take photos of info plaques, maps or brochures at sightseeing locations to remember details of your trip.
  • Let each child who is old enough take photos from their point of view — maybe even get them a disposable camera (yes, they still make these!) if they don’t have their own phone or camera. Then you can make a memory book for each child from their perspective.
  • Relax! Not everything will go right and that’s ok. If you are traveling with kids there might be tears, puke, and lots of whining. If you are traveling with adults only there might be hangovers, disagreements, or annoying habits to endure. It’s never going to be perfect, but it’s vacation so let that shit go and enjoy yourself!

With these summer travel essentials plus my top tips for a memorable vacation, you are all set to sit back, relax, and enjoy the summer!  Happy Travels!

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Amrita Sen

    Hi, I absolutely agree with the tips you gave here. An informative post.

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