I recently went to Hawaii for 5 weeks with a 3-4 month old infant and it went surprisingly well- he even started to sleep through the night by the end of the trip (which is the best thing to happen to me since sliced bread, really). We had two suitcases for the 5 weeks we were there and that included luggage for me and my husband and of course baby GYM. Here’s my minimalist packing list for a beach vacation with baby- we rewarded ourselves with a big trip for completing the financial checklist as new parents in Canada.
There were a few things that I packed that I didn’t use AT ALL and regretted packing. I got a little overwhelmed with the packing list I had and thinking about what to pack for five weeks. After all, it’s quite a lot to pack for 5 weeks!
Updated May 2022
For example, I brought three pee-pee tee-pees and didn’t use any. I also brought 4 pairs of socks and we rarely used them. I also packed way too many onesies and clothes for him.
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We travel hacked Honolulu and stayed in an 1 bedroom condo Airbnb in Waikiki. We also ate on the cheap in Waikiki. This list is provided that you have access to a washer and dryer, if you don’t, I would bring maybe one extra change of clothes per day that you are on your beach vacation for a week or less.
One time I was feeding baby in the car at Kailua beach in East Oahu and I heard some pooping while he gave me a smile. Next thing you know it’s all over the muslin blanket and I hold him up, and he’s stepping on his poop, and his poop is tracking all over my legs because he’s stepping on it some more. Thank goodness we had brought an extra change of clothes. It would have been a messy disaster if we didn’t!
Here’s the absolute basics to pack with you for your beach vacation for baby:
Table of Contents
For the carry on luggage
- Diapers (disposable)– If you use disposable diapers. 1 diaper/hour of plane ride in diaper bag.
- Baby Wipes– Make sure you have lots of wipes for the plane ride!
- A warm and comfy plane outfit (and another outfit in case this one get soiled with a blow out)- We had a onesie inside and a sweatshirt type top with some fleece pants. We had another onesie just in case packed.
- Stroller and car seat combo- We rented a car only a few days but I prefer having our own car seat rather than rent a car seat because you don’t know if the car seat you rent has been in accidents, or whether it’s the right size for your child. We went on a van ride one time and they provided a forward facing car seat when our child was supposed to be in a rear facing car seat. Thank goodness we had our car seat! We have the Baby Trend Snap-N-Go EX Universal Infant Car Seat Carrier and it folds up easily. This can be rolled up right to the gate and can be picked up right at the gate when you finish your flight. Put your name and address on it and they will also add baggage tags to it when you check-in for your flight.
- Baby Carrier- This was perfect for our flight because it helped our baby fall asleep and nap (our baby was used to falling asleep in a baby carrier). We used an Ergo.
- Nursing cover– Essential item if you are breastfeeding! This is the one I use. I lost my nursing cover on the plane once, so I don’t want to be spending so much on them.
- Pacifier– if your baby uses them.
- Tylenol– We used a bit of Tylenol about 30 minutes before the plane took off to help decrease the pain from change in cabin pressure. For proper dosage, check with your doctor.
- One Muslin Blanket
- Small toy- Of course to use for distraction purposes
- Portable changing station- This thing was a lifesaver as it had a portable changing ‘pad’ and room to put fresh diapers, wipes etc. I use the one by Skip Hop (see picture below). We used this as a changing pad too in the Airbnb of course.
- Food and snacks if your baby is not solely breastfed/formula fed
For the checked luggage
- Baby Wipes– one package per week. We went through about 2-3 packages over the 5 weeks we were there. We use about 1-2 wipes per diaper change (average one).
- Diapers- Enough diapers for a few days to one week in checked luggage (depending on if you don’t mind using other brand diapers wherever your sun destination is). If you are there for longer, you can always buy some diapers at your destination.
- Books– We read to our baby every night. We brought about 5 books (small and light weight). By the end of the trip I was sick of reading Dr. Seuss’ ABC but what can you do haha.
- Inflatable baby bathtub– We didn’t get an inflatable baby bathtub, but we bought a baby bath tub at Walmart for $16 instead and left it in the condo at the end of the trip. It was well used!
- 2 Sleep Sacks- In case you need to wash one. If you don’t have access to laundry you may want to bring one more just in case. Make sure they’re not too hot! I brought one that was too thick and it took up space in my luggage and made baby sweat!
- Breast Pump and bottles-I normally don’t use the pump (my baby refuses the bottle), but it was useful because I had a plugged duct (sorry TMI!!!) from the underwire of my swimsuit– (which I got rid of by the way in true minimalist fashion), but if you use it regularly instead of nursing you should put this in carry-on so you can pump on the plane.
- 3-4 onesies– for bedtime.
- Non-onesie baby clothes– because they look so cute! Our son had some collared tops and shorts and he just looked so dapper.
- UV swim outfit- We only brought one and it was sufficient for us as we just rinsed it and washed it/ put it in the washer and used it the next day (it dried quickly). It wasn’t cheap though but we had really good use out of it since our baby swam 6 days in a row one time (and LOOOOVED it!). We used the No Zone brand and it’s made in Canada. It’s not cheap, but it is very high quality. Ours wasn’t hooded though but this is what the hooded one looks like, it’s 0-6 months and my son still fit in it until 14 months.
- Swim diapers (disposable or washable)– Our baby was too small for the disposable swim diapers we brought, but we had him in a pair of cute reusable swim diapers that have a Koi graphic on them. We only brought one pair of washable swim diapers and it was fine.
- Laundry soap– if you use a non-scented brand that may be difficult to find in your destination
- Bottle wash– If you use a special baby bottle wash that is paraben free etc.
- Moisturizing Baby oil– We got a small ‘airplane friendly’ size and it lasted a month of bedtime routine infant massages. It was part of the free stuff we got for baby.
- Moisturizing baby lotion– Our baby had cradle cap so we used lotion sometimes
- Baby wash and shampoo– We had a small size and it lasted a month because we didn’t bathe our baby every day (only if we put sunscreen on or if he went into the ocean or pool).
- Sun hat
- Sunscreen– Sunscreen isn’t really recommended for infants 0-6 months, but we spoke with our doctor who said zinc oxide based sunscreen should be fine because zinc oxide is the same ingredient used for diaper rash (however you should speak to your doctor!). We use Thinkbaby as our doctor recommended this one (zinc oxide based, organic ingredients)- the smell is fresh, it is easy to apply for a zinc oxide based sunscreen and my baby had no skin reaction to it (he had skin reaction/ dermatitis to the Coppertone mineral sunscreen though). Thinkbaby is not cheap but it is good stuff for your baby and toddler and won’t cause a scary skin reaction.
Notice how I didn’t put a Pack N’ Play in the list? You don’t want to be lugging one of those things around! They are heavy!
Ask your accommodation whether they can provide a Pack N’ Play or a crib, and you’ll be happy you did! Usually it’s free or for a small fee.
Also beach towels should be provided at your accommodation.
There you have it, the ultimate minimalist packing list for a beach vacation with baby.
If your baby has a toddler sibling, here’s what to pack for your toddler’s minimalist beach vacation too:
MINIMALIST PACKING LIST FOR A BEACH VACATION WITH a TODDLER- CARRY-ON LUGGAGE:
- Baby Wipes– one package lasted two weeks for us since poops happen just 1-2 times a day (compared to 4-5 times a day as a baby!).
- Diapers- Enough diapers for one day (5 diapers).
- Books– We brought about 5 lightweight books to last for two weeks (lots of reading the same book every night)
- iPad- We are normally a ‘no screen time’ family but that’s all cast aside when you have PTSD about flying with your young child and you need to up the ante to calm your toddler down. I downloaded some videos and toddler apps for him to play with which provided at least 10-15 minutes distraction each time.
- Toys- We brought some toys for him that we wouldn’t mind if they got lost (they were hand-me-down toys). Many of these small toys he had never seen before- this is key for flying with a toddler! Novelty! Something new! Buys you maybe 5 minutes of silence!
- Stroller- We use an Uppa Baby umbrella stroller. It folds up easily and strollers can be gate checked for free when you are traveling with an infant, depending on your airline.
- Car Seat- Normally car rental companies charge $10 a day to rent a car seat. We brought ours just because it was too much hassle to rent a car seat each time we rented a car- and I have trust issues about the car seats if we were to rent one. It is a free check-in when you are traveling with an infant, depending on your airline. This is the car seat we use, it’s light weight and great for traveling.
- Baby Carrier- This is another essential, especially on the plane to help with naps. We used an Ergo.
- Nursing cover– Another essential item if your toddler is nursing.
- Pacifier– If your toddler uses them (ours never took to one so obviously we didn’t pack one)
- Tylenol– We packed some Tylenol in case the cabin pressure got painful for our toddler, but we didn’t end up using it and he was fine.
- One Muslin Blanket- Great to protect your toddler from the sun, or to cover the airplane seat with if they are having a nap and you are lucky enough to get an extra seat.
- Portable changing station- This thing was a lifesaver as it had a portable changing ‘pad’ and room to put fresh diapers, wipes etc. I use the one by Skip Hop.
- Food and snacks- This is another KEY thing to pack. This is probably the ONE thing that saved our butt on our flight with our toddler. We had different snacks, Toddler and Baby Mum Mums, freeze-dried yogurt drops, and puffs.
- Sippy cups and forks, spoons, and food containers- We packed some cow’s milk for the flight and it was good to go through security, they just had to check to make sure there were not any explosives in it, I think.
MINIMALIST PACKING LIST FOR A BEACH VACATION WITH a TODDLER- CHECKED LUGGAGE:
- Baby Wipes– We just bought one package for two weeks.
- Diapers- I didn’t want to hassle of getting diapers and have trust issues with anything other than Pampers so I counted out 5-6 diapers per day and packed them! We brought JUST enough and had one diaper left on the way back. It was cutting it close. Very close.
- 1 onesie– for bedtime. If it got dirty we would just wash it during the day.
- 1 Sleep Sack– This is key for our bed time and nap time routine, haha.
- 6 tops and 6 bottoms- Enough for rotation to get through a few days and wash them if they got dirty. Brought one pair of long pants and one sweatshirt.
- 2 swim outfits- Can’t really do with one because it takes a bit of time for it to dry.
- Swim diapers (disposable or washable)– We brought both. About 10 disposable and 1 washable. Used both. Went to the beach or pool almost daily.
- Laundry soap– if you use a nonscented brand that may be difficult to find in your destination
- Bottle wash– If you use a special baby bottle wash that is paraben free etc.
- Moisturizing baby lotion–
- Baby wash and shampoo– Essential to get sand and sunscreen off!
- Sun hat – Brought two but he didn’t wear either one (he dislikes hats)
- Toddler sunglasses– Ours refused to wear them but we still tried.
- Sunscreen– We still used a mineral type sunscreen, Thinkbaby.
- Two pairs of socks and 1 Pair of Shoes
- UV sun tent– We used this about 3 times, it was handy. It is compact and flat to pack. One beach we went to there was no shade so this was useful for me to hide in with my toddler so I wasn’t so crabby (I don’t do 1pm sun and heat that well) and husband got his tanorexia on.
- Crib sheet– You just need one to put on your Pack N’ Play
- Age appropriate toys- We brought some packable toys and some little beach toys (like a little digger) that he had a great time with.
There we go, it seems like a lot, but it’s not very much considering all the gear traveling with young kids and babies entail. We are minimalists, and even lived in a one bedroom apartment with our baby for a few years.
Parents, is there anything else you might add?
GYM is a 30 something millennial interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, dividend and ETF investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle. Before you go, check out my recommendations page of financial tools I use to save and invest money. Don’t forget to subscribe for blog updates, a free dividend yield spreadsheet, and the free Young Money Bootcamp eCourse.