Build a Better Beach Bag

10 packing tips for a stress-free water vacation
Beach or cruise-bound this summer? For those who tend to fret about which items are worth their share of suitcase space, we’ve done the homework on water destination essentials. Here are 10 guidelines to consider when putting together your packing list:
 
1. Protect your tech: When surrounded by gorgeous, glassy waters, putting your camera away isn’t always an attractive option. Fortunately, there’s plenty of gear designed to make sure the temptation to appease your Instagram and Facebook followers doesn’t end in tears. A waterproof phone case or pouch is a must, and many sport floating mechanisms or lanyards that tether your tech to you. Adventurous photographers might consider investing in a sturdy waterproof camera or GoPro. Certain models come with protective cases capable of withstanding depths of up to 197 feet.
 
2. Magnify your view: If you aren’t toting a camera with a long-focus lens, pack a pair of binoculars to get a closer look at sights and wildlife while cruising.
 
3. Tread carefully: For those planning to hike on beaches and through waterfalls, dangers like coral and litter have the potential to bring seaside adventures to a sharp, painful halt. With superior traction and fast-drying materials, water shoes are designed to protect your feet from injury and bacteria when scaling wet, rocky surfaces.
 
4. Bring backup: In humid, tropical climates, chances are your wet clothing will fail to dry quickly. If your trip calls for frequent swimsuit wear, bring at least one alternate, and bring clothing made of moisture-wicking, quick-drying material, such as a polyester blend.
 
5. Keep it classy: Stock your beach bag with shoes and swimsuit cover-ups to prepare for the inevitable post-sunbathing hunger — even beachside restaurants prohibit dining in bikinis and bare feet. If you’re looking for a beach blanket that doubles as an outfit, CoolMax Travel Blankets also can be used as sarongs or shawls.
 
6. Stay dry: Find out if towels will be provided where you’re headed. Cruises have typically got you covered. If your destination is a beach house, however, it might be wise to stow a few towels in your suitcase. Brands like Cocoon make lightweight microfiber versions that dry fast and are compact for convenient packing.
 
7. Sand-proof your stuff: Sand is the beach souvenir no one wants, but everyone winds up taking home. Luckily, 21st-century innovation has reached the beach, and now there are several varieties of sand-proof beach bags and towels available to prevent those gritty mementos from stowing away.
 
8. Don’t be a fashion victim: There’s nothing like a swift blow to the face from an ocean wave to remind you exactly how much you paid for your now sea-bound Ray-Bans. Before hopping into the surf, swap your beloved sunnies with a pair you’re less likely to miss, or consider sporting a sunglass strap. Likewise, make sure your cute new floppy hat comes with strings attached.
 
9. Shield your skin: No matter how many Arizona summers you’ve survived, you’re not immune to UV rays. Along with your floppy hat, make room in your beach bag for sunscreen, and remember to reapply throughout the day.
 
10. Plan ahead: To prevent a soggy journey home for your souvenirs, pack waterproof bags with plastic lining to stow wet items. Water-resistant, antimicrobial packing cubes also are a good investment to keep clothes organized, dry, and odor-free.