The Ultimate Family Beach Vacation Checklist

Some of our most treasured memories are made on family vacations. You and your kids finally get to put on the brakes and take the time to have fun together that’s so hard to find in daily life. Whether you’re piling into the car for a road trip or you’re flying to a faraway destination, you’ll always remember that precious time.

Last year, 35 percent of Americans reporting that they were planning to take a family vacation, according to a AAA survey. The same survey found the most common types of family trips in 2016 were:

  • Road trips: 69 percent
  • State or national park: 49 percent
  • Amusement park: 42 percent
  • International destination: 26 percent
  • Ocean cruise: 19 percent

There are plenty of places to travel to, but one of the best destinations is the beach. Whether you’re road-tripping to a beach, flying to sandy shores or visiting a beach in a national park, you have hours of sun and water ahead of you. Little ones love building and digging in the sand, older kids can swim and spend hours Snapchatting their friends and parents can rest easy knowing they can relax while the whole family has fun.

If you’re looking for the ultimate beach vacation destination, look no further than Ocean City, NJ. The island has miles of beaches and a well-earned reputation as a family-friendly vacation spot. The island is also home to the famous Ocean City Boardwalk, a stretch of restaurants, shops, amusement rides and endless entertainment. Families on the East Coast can easily road-trip to Ocean City, while families in the rest of the country will find a flight there well worth the journey.

Not only is OCNJ fun for the whole family, but it also has some of the most beautiful places to stay. Beach rentals in OCNJ are plentiful. You can stay just steps from the cool, blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Plus, the summer months have average temperatures that will make lounging on the beach irresistible. OCNJ’s average temperatures, according to Weather DB, are:

  • 70 degrees Fahrenheit in June
  • 75.6 degrees Fahrenheit in July
  • 75 degrees Fahrenheit in August

Can you say “perfect vacation?”

Before you grab the kids and go, you’ll need a thorough packing plan in place. If this isn’t your first trip with the kids, you know how much time and effort goes into packing and preparing for a family vacation. We’ve put together the ultimate family vacation checklist. Check off the items on this list and you’ll be prepared to have the vacation of a lifetime, rain or shine, once you arrive at one of those beautiful OCNJ vacation rental homes.

Packing the Essentials

First things first: you can pack all of the simple things you’ll need to safely enjoy the sun, surf and sand in OCNJ. Many of these items will seem like a no-brainer, but in the rush of putting everything together, it’s easy to forget something as simple, and necessary, as sunscreen. Here are the beach essentials everyone in the family will need:

  • Swimsuits
  • Beach towels
  • Beach blanket
  • Beach tent
  • Beach chairs
  • Sunglasses
  • Sandals
  • Beach umbrella
  • Cooler
  • Sunscreen
  • Aloe
  • Lip balm
  • Bug spray

Now, that list covers the basics, but you might want to come with more. Kids will love beach toys. Grab a bucket and trowel kit, sandcastle molds, a beach ball, a kite, snorkels, goggles and any other waterproof toys your kids will love.

If you’re traveling with a baby or toddler, you know you’ll have to come armed with all of their essentials, too. Don’t forget to pack:

  • Diapers
  • Diaper bag
  • Diaper cream
  • Changing pads
  • Formula
  • Baby bottles
  • Sippy cups
  • Nursing pads
  • Baby food
  • Baby clothes
  • Blankets
  • Bibs
  • Pacifiers
  • Car seat (if you’re driving)
  • Baby carrier
  • Stroller
  • Beloved stuffed animals or toys

If your little one is old enough to play in the surf, consider bringing a pair of water wings, a life jacket and appropriately sized swimwear. Here are a few adult items to add to your young-family vacation packing checklist:

  • Driver’s license
  • Credit and debit cards
  • Cash
  • Insurance information
  • iPod or iPhone and dock
  • Books
  • Cellphone
  • Cellphone charger
  • Batteries for any battery-powered toys or device
  • Any prescriptions you have
  • Pain relievers
  • Allergy pills
  • Anti-nausea medicine (especially if your kids have a hard time in the car)
  • First aid kit
  • Hand sanitizer

After all of that sandy fun, you and the kids are going to need to clean off. Remember to add toiletries and bath supplies to your checklist. The necessities for you and the little ones include:

  • Bath towels
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Soap
  • Detangler
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Mouthwash
  • Cosmetics
  • Tissue
  • Razors
  • Shaving cream

Last, but certainly not least, you will need to think about bringing beach-appropriate snacks and drinks. Depending on how far you’re traveling, you can bring most of these things with you, or you can make a grocery run once you have settled into one of the family vacation rentals in OCNJ. Since you packed your cooler, you can bring plenty of treats to enjoy while you sit under the shade of your beach umbrella.

Bring plenty of water so the whole family stays hydrated, but you can also bring fruit juice, lemonade, iced tea, soda and flavored water. Here are some great healthy snacks (and a few less-healthy treats) for the whole family:

  • Fresh or dried fruit. Fruits like bananas, apples and oranges don’t require any packaging and they’re easy to eat. Dried fruit is sweet and easy to hand out between play sessions. Yum!
  • Fresh vegetables. Carrot or celery sticks are a great and easily prepared snack for kids. You can bring a little dip or peanut butter to entice the little ones into eating their veggies for the day.
  • Fruit cups. If you don’t mind bringing along disposable silverware, you and the kids can snack on some applesauce or mandarin oranges between swims.
  • Cheese. Kids love string cheese and even slices of plain cheese. The adults can spoil themselves with a few pieces of artisanal cheese.
  • Nuts. Nuts are a great snack and pack a lot of protein. Try plain nuts – like peanuts, almonds or cashews – or enjoy a lightly-salted nut mix.
  • Sandwiches. Peanut butter and jelly is, naturally, a staple of any family vacation. You can also make some deli meat or cheese sandwiches. Just remember enough ice to keep everything cool.
  • Yogurt. If you have enough ice, yogurt is a tasty option. With so many different flavors, everyone can have a cup or two they enjoy.
  • Potato chips. Salty, delicious and easy to pack. Grab a few bags so everyone can enjoy their favorite flavors. If you want a healthier chip, opt for a baked option.
  • Candy. While there are healthier options, your little ones might beg you to bring along a little candy for your beach excursion. You’ll want to avoid chocolate because it may melt in the summer sun. Instead, why not visit one of the many boardwalk sweet shops for just the right palate-pleasing treat?

Remember to bring cash with you to the beach if you want to treat yourselves to the ice cream or cotton candy sold along the OCNJ boardwalk!

Planning for Fun Activities

The sun, sand and water at the beach are wonderful, but parents always know to come prepared with plenty of activities. You’ve packed a few beach toys, but are you prepared for the inevitable question of “What now?” Here are a few tried-and-true activities that the whole family will love.

  • Beach art. Building a sandcastle is a timeless tradition, but kids with an artistic streak can do so much more. Kids can make sand angels, create mosaics from seashells and driftwood, build each other mermaid tails out of sand and even play Pictionary. Brave parents can volunteer to be buried and become part of the artwork. The beach is one big canvas!
  • Seaside Olympics. You can organize a bunch of different competitions on the beach. Try water bucket relay races, crab races, playing catch with a beach ball, hurdle over beach toys, tug of war and anything else you can imagine. You can compete for little prizes or just play for the fun of it.
  • Treasure hunt. Spark your kids’ natural curiosity with a treasure hunt. Put together a list of things you can spot on the beach. Give your kids the list and challenge them to find everything from seashells to seagulls flying overhead.
  • Beach bowling. Collect your empty water bottles and line them up like bowling pins. Take your beach ball and see who can knock down all of the “pins.” Just remember to clean up before you pack up and head to your vacation rental!
  • Musical chairs. If you have a portable speaker and enough beach chairs, you can play a classic game of musical chairs. You can also use towels instead of chairs.

You can do most of these activities with basic beach toys and a little imagination.

After you have played on the beach to your heart’s content, you and your family can explore more of OCNJ. You can explore the nearby Atlantic City Aquarium for some educational fun, take a dolphin watching tour, visit Gillian’s Wonderland Pier for rides, play mini golf at Pirate Island Miniature Golf and, of course, visit the famous Ocean City Boardwalk. If you're still looking for a fun activity, there are plenty of things to do in Ocean City, NJ!

Preparing for a Rainy Day

Beach vacations are all about being outside under the sun, but sometimes the weather has other ideas. Hopefully your vacation is favored with barely a cloud in the sky, but it’s best to be prepared for a rainy day or a few rainy hours.

  • Bring board games. Board games are a classic indoor activity. Find games with enough players for everyone, or bring plenty of options. You can even set up a tournament if it looks like the rain will be falling all day.
  • Play with puzzles. Pack a couple different types of puzzles. If everyone is old enough, you can put together a complicated jigsaw puzzle. If you have younger ones, try simpler puzzles. Everyone can try their favorites if you bring a puzzle book with different options. Try your hand at a crossword, word jumble or Sudoku.
  • Pack plenty of books. If you have kids old enough to read, ask them to pick out a few chapter books for the trip. Getting lost in a good story is a great way to pass the time. If you have younger kids, bring some picture books and have story time. You and your kids can have fun acting out different parts of the stories.
  • Put on a play. If your kids have the theater bug, let them dream up and perform a play. If you’re lucky, you might even land a role in the production.
  • Take a drive. If everyone is feeling cooped up indoors, hop into the car and take a drive along the beach. Check for any severe weather warnings before hopping in the car.
  • Go to the movies. You can have a movie day in your vacation rental. Bring some kid-friendly films with you, pop some popcorn and wait out the rain. You can also drive to movie theater in Ocean City. As soon as the lights go down, you and your kids will forget all about the rain.
  • Arts and crafts. Pack coloring books, crayons and markers. If you want to get a little more creative, try finger painting. Remember to put down some old paper to help contain the mess.
  • Bake cookies. The smell of fresh-baked cookies always brings kids flocking to the kitchen. Make baking a family project. Older kids can help measure the ingredients, while little ones will love rolling the dough. Keep an eye out to make sure the dough makes it into the oven instead of little mouths!
  • Go to a museum. Museums are always a wonderful rainy day option. Ocean City has the Ocean City Historical Museum and the Discovery Sea Shell Museum. Wander the exhibits with your kids and browse the gift shop.
  • Play classic indoor games. Challenge your family to a game of charades, hide and seek, leap frog or Simon Says.
  • Build a pillow fort. Gather your pillows and a few sheets to create a rainy-day fort. After you’ve built the fort together, you can read or play games together inside. If you brought along a tablet, you watch a movie together in the fort.
  • Play with beach toys in the bath. Just because it’s raining outside doesn’t mean your kids have to miss out on playing with their beach gear! Fill up the tub and let them use their snorkel gear and floating toys. Luckily, you packed plenty of towels for all of the inevitable splashing.

Keep these ideas in your back pocket in case of a rainy day or a bad sunburn!

Now that you know everything you need to pack and prepare for a memorable family beach vacation, you can start to browse Ocean City, NJ vacation rentals for the perfect place to stay. Goldcoast Sotheby’s International Realty has an extensive line of property listings in OCNJ. Reach out to us today online or call us at (609) 399-2500 to start planning your family’s dream beach vacation in OCNJ. Our team’s local and global expertise will go to work to find you just the right rental property. Start searching all of our OCNJ rental properties today and contact the Goldcoast Sotheby's International Realty team to book your vacation!