Packing for an Outer Banks Family Beach Vacation? Don’t Forget These Must-Haves

Packing for an Outer Banks Family Beach Vacation

Remember the old scouting motto, “Be prepared”? It comes in handy when you’re planning your Outer Banks family getaway. After all, the better equipped you are, the more you’ll minimize inconvenience and maximize your fun.

No, you won’t have to knock yourself out prepping for your vacation. But naturally you’ll want to take some time to figure out exactly what you’ll need.

It’s simple! And, to make it even easier, here’s a convenient checklist you can follow as you plan and pack.

Basic Stuff to Bring to Your Outer Banks Rental

Whether you’re vacationing as a couple, with family, or with friends, you’ll want to tote along these essentials:

  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Soap
  • Deodorant / antiperspirant
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Combs and brushes
  • Hair dryers, curling irons, flat irons
  • Haircare products
  • Prescription and over-the-counter medications
  • First aid items, such as ointments and bandages
  • Batteries for cameras and electronics
  • Plug-in chargers
  • Contact lenses and related supplies
  • Pajamas
  • Underwear
  • Phones, tablets, and laptops
  • Computer games
  • Board games

Of course, you’ll also want to bring along beach-friendly clothes and accessories such as:

  • Swimsuits
  • Shorts
  • Jeans and khakis
  • T-shirts
  • Polos
  • Sundresses
  • Sandals and/or flipflops
  • Dressier slacks, shirts, and dresses for dining out at nicer eateries
  • Light jackets or sweaters to keep you warm when cool winds stir (or when restaurants ramp up the air conditioning)

Most rentals provide kitchen/bath towels and linens, so you won’t need to pack those items. Most also supply dishes, pots, pans, silverware, kitchen utensils, and small appliances such as blenders, toasters, and microwaves.

Must-Haves for the Beach

Sun, sand, and surf are all wonderful, but they can take a toll on skin and clothing. So, if you have room in your vehicle, bring along:

  • UV-blocking sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun-blocking visors or beach hats
  • Sunburn cream or gel
  • Lip balm
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Small first-aid kit just in case
  • Cover-ups and/or an extra set of dry clothes for each child

Plus, don’t forget the fun stuff – the items you’ll want to have on hand for the ultimate beach experience:

  • Big, fluffy beach towels
  • Big, roomy beach bag(s)
  • Beach blankets
  • Beach and water toys, including inflatable floats and life vests for the little ones
  • Snorkels and fins
  • Ice-filled cooler packed with water bottles, juice pouches, snacks, etc.
  • Books and/or Kindles
  • Digital camera (or simply use your smartphone)
  • Portable chargers
  • Water-safe shoes

Own a van or SUV with extra storage space? Consider bringing along some comfy beach chairs, a beach umbrella, perhaps even a pop-up cabana. Also pack any yard games you like to play, such as cornhole, volleyball, and badminton sets.

And, if you plan to picnic on the beach,

fill your beach bag with paper napkins, flatware (reusable or disposable), paper or plastic plates, drinking cups, and so on. After lunch, dispose of all trash in designated receptacles.

Essentials for Babies, Seniors, and People with Special Needs

Have a baby or toddler in tow? Stock up on:

  • Diapers and diaper bag
  • Portable changing mat
  • Creams and lotions
  • Stroller
  • Baby seat
  • Baby toys
  • Baby wipes
  • Hats and visors to screen baby’s face from sun
  • Portable crib/play yard

Plus, if you’re traveling with seniors or folks with physical challenges, pack any special equipment they’ll need, such as:

  • Canes
  • Walkers
  • Wheelchairs
  • Shower benches
  • Personal protective devices

Don’t Forget Pet Supplies

Many OBX rentals will accommodate pets (especially dogs). Outer Banks Blue, for example, currently has over 90 dog-friendly rentals. So, after checking to make sure your unit permits pets, feel free to bring Fido along for some paw-some fun in the sun.

You’ll need to furnish your own pet stuff, though, so take care to pack:

  • Dog food
  • Pet bed
  • Pet meds
  • Treats
  • Dog toys
  • Doggie food and water bowls
  • Zip-lock bags for disposing of doggie doo
  • Vet and vaccination records, just in case

Plus Hiking and Bicycling Gear

Ready to hit the trails? You’re in luck. The Outer Banks offer countless opportunities for invigorating hiking and biking through gorgeous maritime forests, along shimmering ponds and marshes, and over pristine, towering sand dunes (the tallest on the East Coast!). Just take care to come equipped with essentials such as:

  • Bug spray
  • Sturdy hiking shoes or sneakers
  • Backpack for your first aid, water bottles, camera, phone, sunscreen, etc.
  • Your own bicycles (or, you can rent bikes from local shops)

Gear Up for Watersports, Too…

If you own a kayak, canoe, paddleboard(s), or surfboard(s) – and you can fit such items in your vehicle – then, by all means, bring them along.

No room in the van? No problem. Many Outer Banks watersports outposts offer equipment rentals.

What about engine-powered watercraft? Most Outer Banks towns will allow you to operate your motorboat on the ocean, the sounds, or both, although restrictions do apply (which vary from town to town). Most also offer public-access boat ramps plus marinas for docking your vessel. So, feel free to hitch your craft to your car before heading to the OBX. (You can also rent motorized watercraft from a number of Outer Banks companies.)

Love to fish? Feel free to bring along your own rood, reel, tackle box, and cooler… or rent/purchase once you’re here.

…And for Sightseeing as Well

Whether you’re climbing the stairs of a legendary lighthouse or touring the site of the Wright Brothers’ famous first flight, you’ll want to dress for the occasion – with light clothing, sun hat, and durable closed-toe shoes.

Forget Anything? No Worries!

Left toothpaste or toddler toys at home? You’ll find all the necessities you require – and then some – at various Outer Banks groceries, drugstores, and other retail establishments.

So, what are you waiting for? Plan, pack, gather the fam, and head to the NC Outer Banks!

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