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Beach Vacation Essentials: What to Pack

Every year, as soon as the first signs of spring start showing themselves, I get an itch. I’ll start looking at flights, screenshotting cool hotels I see on Instagram, taking mental notes on dresses I see online that make me think, ‘This would look great on the beach.’ Before I know it, I’ll have planned a full vacation for myself without actually booking anything. I’ll think about when I was young and had an official “spring break,” a week I was simply off—no need to work ahead, reschedule meetings, or make sure I had a babysitter. Now, having a few days of rest and relaxation takes a lot more planning on my end. And sometimes, simply deciding when I’d go is a hurdle in and of itself. That’s why my friends and I decided to take our own “adult spring break” this year: a long weekend with no kids and lots of beach time.

Honestly, the main reason I was looking forward to this trip was that, for the first time since I had my kids, I’d have to pack for exactly one person: myself. Normally, I’d be in charge of my bag, plus my 2-year-old’s, plus my 7-month-old’s—plus any other odds and ends that come when you’re traveling with children. But not this time. I was going to spend a few days on an island with my husband and two friends, and I would bring a single carry-on. No more.

We chose Saint Barthélemy in the Caribbean because it felt far enough that it was exciting, but it was a short enough flight that we wouldn’t spend so much of our precious “off” time on a plane. We stayed at the breathtaking Hotel Le Toiny, which checked all of the boxes I had when I was daydreaming of a vacation: low-key, secluded but still lively, and with plenty of spots to catch some sun and luxuriate.

Since I committed to bringing only a carry-on, I had to be very strategic about what I’d bring with me. I’d be gone five days. The weather would be 80 degrees. The itinerary included swimming, eating, and lounging. And I would be documenting everything, because who knows when I’ll be able to get away for this long again? So, I challenged myself to stick to a handful of tried-and-true staples I could wear more than once, in multiple scenarios. After this test, I’ve determined that these six items are the ultimate beach getaway essentials. Check out my vacation #OOTDs for proof.

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