No Beach Vacation Is Complete Without These 41 Items in Your Suitcase

Woman in pool reading

(Image credit: @ladhav)

Not to put my age on blast, but I turned the big 3-0 this year. As a Pisces, I could think of no better way to celebrate the milestone than a relaxing beach stay. I had never been to Baja California, so I spontaneously booked a flight and, upon landing, made the hour-long car ride to the Four Seasons Los Cabos at Costa Palmas. Even though I wasn't initially planning to leave the hotel during my stay (and why would I when my room had a plunge pool?), I still wanted to pack an abundance of clothing options in my carry-on. After all, there are so many types of beach vacations, so I thought it best to be prepared for any possible activities. Luckily, when the temperatures are warm, your things take up less space.

I can confidently say that I gravitated toward the below categories when getting dressed during my tropical getaway. The weather in Costa Palmas was a tad cloudy and windy on some days—paradise doesn't guarantee sunshine and clear skies, folks!—but items like maxi skirts, dresses, and trendy long sleeves kept me warm. And when the sun did come out, the one-piece swimsuits, cover-ups, and sandals I packed got plenty of use. Consider the contents of my suitcase, which I've shared in the shoppable selection below, your packing checklist for your next beach vacation. Just be sure to add sunscreen.


Woman in pool with book

(Image credit: @ladhav)

Swimsuits take up so little space that even if I'm only staying a couple days on vacation, I still bring multiple bikinis. They also come in handy because they double as clothing, so I like to throw in a couple with different colors and textures so they're versatile in my wardrobe. Also, when there are so many bodies of water at the resort, why not change up your swimwear to take a plunge in each one? If you're planning on venturing out into the deeper ocean, I like to bring one suit that feels like it can withstand those larger waves.

Dresses and Cover-Ups

woman in yellow midi dress with beige sandals

(Image credit: @ladhav)

I love a dress that also doubles as a cover-up. The great news on this front is that sheer dressing is trending, and it makes so much sense to try the trend out for yourself on a beach vacation. This slightly see-through yellow Gimaguas purchase is one item I bring with me whenever I vacation somewhere on the water. I wore this to a fancier seafood restaurant called Estiatorio Milos at the hotel, but I also wore it while walking to and from the pool over a bikini. Thinner cotton, mesh, and crochet are all eye-catching features of it, but you can also bring one cover-up and one nice dress in case you don't want to double up on outfits.

Breezy Skirts

Woman wearing a white tank top and skirt

(Image credit: @ladhav)

There's something about an easy skirt that also makes it a must for my vacation wardrobe. It's also so much easier to air-dry your bikini bottoms when there's a breeze, just saying. Skirts will look good with your bikini top, a tank, or a button-down shirt. Pair them with sandals or sneakers if you're heading out on the town. They do so much for your wardrobe! I wore my Dôen skirt and a With Jéan corset top for a sushi dinner at El Puesto, and I loved how effortlessly the whole ensemble came together. Feel free to throw on a thinner sweater or cardigan if it gets a tad chilly at night.

Bold Tops

Woman on a horse on the beach

(Image credit: @ladhav)

The one reason I did leave the hotel was to go horseback riding on the beach. You only turn 30 once, right? I wore this puff-sleeved Farm Rio top with Adidas shorts and my Sambas to make my outfit stylish yet practical for the activity. Now that I'm back from vacation, I realize that pairing bold tops with the aforementioned breezy skirts or yet-to-be-mentioned athleticwear is a beach-trip game changer. I always make sure I pack some sort of graphic tee that's easy to coordinate with any bottom and some variety of top with a striking print or color to really lean into the relaxing vibes of it all.

Flip-Flops and Sandals

Woman by a pool wearing a white shirt

(Image credit: @ladhav)

This is a given, but sandals and flip-flops are musts for any beach vacation. You want something that's easy to take off once your feet hit the sand but also easy to put back on once you're off of the sand and, say, on a hot wooden deck. When walking around the hotel, a pair of flatform flip-flips made sure my feet were protected when walking around the decks surrounding the pools. But if you're also looking for a less bulky option, Tkees are a pair I highly recommend.


Woman on a tennis court

(Image credit: @ladhav)

If your beach vacation involves activities, it's always a good idea to pack some workout gear so you're ready. The hotel had a gym, lap pool, and pickleball and tennis courts, and although napping in direct sunlight on a lounge chair is amazing, it felt nice to get in a different type of sweat through some movement. Even if you're not planning on doing any workouts, you can bring a pair of sneakers that are both fashionable and functional in case the mood strikes you. A couple rounds of tennis during my stay really inspired me to keep up practicing after I got back.


Woman on boat with sambas

(Image credit: @ladhav)

A beach vacation is arguably a mess without accessories. Where would you put your beach towel, multiple sunscreens, and beach read without a giant tote bag? I like bringing one bag that lies flat in my suitcase that I know can fit most of my necessities and then one bag that's a little more, well, fun. This was on the way to Mozza Baja in a water taxi on the same day of my checkout, so I was really cramming all of my beach things in my tote while my luggage was stored at the front desk. If you need another hot tip, the below Baggu pouches have been an organizational lifesaver and are easy to throw in any bag. Then I shopped out more jewelry, sunnies, and even hair clips that will help you nail a cute beachy aesthetic.

Lauren Adhav
Freelance Fashion Editor

Lauren Adhav is a freelance fashion editor based in Los Angeles. Originally from Orlando, Florida, she always wanted to work at a fashion magazine. After finally getting an internship at Town & Country in 2015, she moved to New York City and continued to get her footing in the industry with stints at Cosmopolitan, W magazine, Harper's Bazaar, and Moda Operandi. In 2017, she returned to Cosmo full time, starting off as the beauty and fashion editorial assistant and working her way to fashion editor. She contributed to both the website and print issues, pitching new ideas, forecasting trends, covering red carpet events, and informing the overall coverage and brand voice. After five years in NYC, she moved to the West Coast for the sunshine and the change of pace. As a freelance fashion editor, she still contributes to Cosmo and now Who What Wear. She's always trying to get ahead of the next big trend before it goes mainstream and loves discovering fashion brands with a unique point of view (Chopova Lowena, Sandy Liang, and Bode being some of her current favorites). She also spends an unhealthy amount of time online shopping for the perfect piece, and now that she's in L.A., she's rediscovering her soft spot for malls. On the weekends, you can find her walking around the Silver Lake Reservoir, trying to catch up on her tan at Venice Beach, and probably ordering a Chinese chicken salad at Joan's on Third.