I was looking forward to our annual beach vacation with a little different sense of excitement this year. Excitement in the more nervous sense of the word maybe. First order of business was packing. Here is what we brought, needed and my list of essentials.
Clothes: Since we were checking bags anyway, I didn’t worry too much about overpacking. She wore about half the clothes I brought with us, so I could have gone lighter. It’s the same temperature all the time pretty much in Anguilla (off the coast of St. Maarten if you aren’t familiar) and so layers weren’t needed. I bought two swimsuits from SnapperRock and she pretty much lived in these or a diaper the whole day. At night we’d put her in a onesie and then her light sleep sack since we had AC in our bedroom. Without AC, the onesie would have been enough. We bought her a couple sun hats and two pairs (in case one broke) of Baby Banz sunglasses. They actually stayed on too! She got used to them fast and I think she realized she could see better with them in bright sunlight after awhile.
Gear: I rented a crib, stroller, high chair and beach tent from Travel Lite. In theory, this made a lot of sense. But, the crib mattress was awful! Super squishy and had a one inch gap around it. The stroller was crap too, particularly given the poor condition of many of the roads. We sent back the crib and only used the stroller a couple of times. Luckily we brought her travel crib from Baby Bjorn. This thing is great and she loved sleeping it. In fact, she slept through the night pretty much the whole vacation! We also brought her own car seat, because who knows what you can rent on the island, and it was key for getting her to take naps while we drove around the island. (We saw ALOT of the island by car). Lastly, we brought the Ergo Carrier, which was key for the airport as we could be hands free and she napped while we rushed through the terminals. Next time I’ll probably bring my own stroller (I guess you can check it at the gate).
Accessories: Since you can entertain an infant with just about anything (paper, spoons and plastic bottles are Maddie’s favorites) you don’t need a lot of toys. We brought with us a couple books, two chew toys and her favorite stuffed animal. For the beach we used a small tent, which kept both the sun and sand off her. We brought one bottle and I had my hand breast pump. You’ll want to have at least one day where you can have a few drinks, so pump a few times at least so you can throw back a few one night and let someone else feed and put your baby to bed.
Skincare: I have super sensitive skin and my daughter appears to have inherited this trait. We brought the coconut oil we always use as a moisturizer, her soap, her laundry detergent and homemade sunscreen. The sunscreen worked great for me and her and neither of us got a rash or a sunburn. I also made my own bug spray, which luckily we didn’t need.
So based on my experience, here is the packing essentials list for your next beach vacation, everything else is extra or nice to have:
1. Diapers and wipes (cloth too if you have them to reduce the amount of disposable you need).
2. SPF sun hat, full length swimsuit and sunglasses
3. Travel crib
5. Light weight wearable blanket
6. Car seat
7. Bottle and breast pump
8. Baby soap
9. A few outfits, at least one that covers their arms and legs
10. Stoller for the airport and for getting baby to sleep while you get out and enjoy the weather
11. A couple favorite toys
12. Homemade sunscreen