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How to Pack the Perfect Carry-on for Your Beach Vacation

*Updated October 2022

Whether you are flying or driving to your next beach vacation, a carry-on is just the right sized piece of luggage to keep your packing simple and easy to manage. Packing the basics can be as rewarding as it is challenging. But part of taking a vacation is to escape the ordinary… so taking everything except the kitchen sink just doesn’t seem quite right.

Perhaps the best way to enjoy anOcean Isle Beach vacationis to minimize the stress at home before you leave. Packing is rarely easy, as you cannot predict the weather or what other vacation needs may arise. In order to help you get the most out of your next beach vacation, we have compiled a list of tricks and tips to help you pack the perfect carry-on.

Ready. Set. Pack!

#1 Find the Right Carry-On

If you are going to be flying to your vacation destination, then be sure to check with your airline for specific carry-on size requirements and restrictions.

Your carry-on may be a small roll-behind piece of luggage, a large backpack, or a weekender bag, but it should also fit the needs of your trip, so choose wisely.

Carry-on luggage open on bed | Williamson Realty Vacations Ocean Isle Beach Vacation Rentals

#2 Toiletries

Heading to the beach for a week? Then you don’t need an extra large container of shampoo and conditioner. If you are flying solo, or even with your best mate, then you won’t need more than a travel size container of toiletry items for each of you. So you can bring those from home. If you are flying, your liquids, aerosols and pastes cannot exceed 3.4 oz.

If your entire family is traveling, then consider these two options. For those who are driving, pack one toiletry bag for the entire family. Families who are flying can opt to stop at Walgreens, CVS, or Walmart on their way into Ocean Isle Beach (don’t forget to grab some sunblock). There are grocery stores and drug stores convenient to all of theWilliamson Realty Vacationsproperties.

Traveling by air in the US? Then you will need to place all such items in a single quart-size, clear plastic, zip-top bag. At the security checkpoint, you will have to remove your quart-size bag from your carry-on and place in the provided bin. So be sure to keep your toiletry bag in an easy-to-reach location!

Toiletries that you may need for your beach vacation may include: shampoo, conditioner, lotion, sunscreen, toothpaste, mouthwash, hairspray, contact solution, lip balm, etc. Remember to keep it simple…it is vacation!

#3 Towel

It may take some extra space, but one (or two would be even better) thin beach towels should find their way into your carry-on (unless you decide to wait and buy one once you get to the beach). Why a thin towel? Because it won’t take up as much room in your carry-on, and it will dry quicker! Why two towels? Because your beach vacation is going to need two! While one towels is being washed or dried, then you have a spare. And no one wants sand in their bath towel! Yuck!!

#4 Bathing Suit

This is another category were you may want to pack double. Two bathing suits means not having to struggle back into a wet bathing suit! Most of your vacation will be spent at the beach or the pool, and since a bathing suit is the preferred attire for such a setting—then it makes sense to bring two.

#5- Clothes

It isn’t going to be easy to fit all the clothes you want to bring into a carry-on. If you will be at the beach for a week, then follow these tips. While traveling, wear an outfit that A) can be used on your vacation, B) you can travel back home in, and C) contains your larger clothing items. For example, if you plan to work-out while you are on vacation, travel in your yoga pants, tennis shoes, and a lightweight hoodie. Or maybe a long sundress, denim jacket, wide brimmed hat, and sandals is more your style? Wear it while traveling. Think of all the space you will create in your bag.

For you beach vacation, find clothing items that mix and match easily. Try limiting yourself to:

  • 2 bathing suits
  • 2 shorts/skirts
  • 3 shirts
  • 1 dress and/or cover-up for ladies
  • 1 hat
  • 1 lightweight jacket
  • undergarments

#6 Shoes

Save space in your carry-on by only bringing TWO…yes 2…pairs of shoes. One pair of flip-flops, and one other pair of shoes. You will want the flips-flops that you bring to be comfortable, and able to be rinsed off. For your other pair of shoes? That depends on what other beach activities you are going to participate in. What will serve your needs best? Tennis shoes, sandals, dress shoes, or a second pair of flip flops?

When packing your carry-on, you can wrap your shoes in plastic shopping bags to keep dirt and smells off of your clothes.

#7 Accessories

A good hat and sunglasses are accessory essentials for the beach. If you do leave home without them, then stop and get those two items ASAP when you arrive at the beach.

Limit jewelry to just a few pieces that go with everything. Remember to keep your beach vacation light and fun—don’t get bogged down in the accessories. And if you do decide to travel light in the accessory department, these items also make great souvenirs. Pick up a locally made bracelet or earrings, or maybe a ball cap with Ocean Isle Beach embroidered on it.

#8 Other Essentials

You are also going to need any medications that you take. Putting them in a travel pill container will save on space. Don’t worry about losing your medication or spilling. Just be sure to have the phone number of your doctor and pharmacy on hand, and the local drug store can help you in an emergency.

If you love to read, the new bestseller may be essential for you.

You are going to need a beach bag also. Ladies, your beach bag can double as your purse while traveling. Drop a small cross-body purse (with your wallet/purse essentials) into the beach bag, and it counts as your approved “personal item” for air travel!

Bonus Tips

Smaller regional airports are often supported by smaller aircraft. If the plane that you are traveling on to your final destination is a small regional jet or turboprop, then you may have to check your carry-on as you board. Since the average carry-on will not fit into the overhead compartment of small aircraft, the airline will take your carry-on from you, plane-side. A member of the ground crew will typically put a tag on your bag, and give you a tear away tag with a matching number. When you disembark, your carry-on will be returned to you, plane-side. If your carry-on is the typical black or is not easy to recognize, then follow this travel tip. Tie a bright piece of ribbon (or yarn) around the handle. This will help you to spot your luggage in the crowd!

Looking for more packing how-tos? Check out this short video from Howdini. You’re welcome!

Before You Go, Watch This Packing Hacks Video ⤵


We would love to share them with our guests here at Williamson Realty Vacations.

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