Beach vacation planning guide

However spontaneous trips have charm too, most of us like to think ahead and organize everything from A to Z for a carefree experience. If you don’t know how and where to start, this beach vacation planning guide takes you through the whole process from choosing a destination through packing to finding the best seaside activity ideas.

Beach vacation planning contents

Beach vacation planning checklist

Organizing a perfect holiday is easy – said no one before! Albeit it takes time and effort to figure out where and when to travel, it is not that difficult if you have a structure to follow.

Here are the main points you should go through when planning a seaside trip:

 – Budget

 – Location

 – Time/Season

 – Accommodation

 – Food and Meals

 – Packing

 – Activities

 – Safety

beach vacation planning checklist

Set up a budget

No matter you plan an affordable beach vacation or a once-in-a-lifetime luxury tropical getaway, the money aspect is one of the first things that should come to the mind. Budgeting is a huge part of beach vacation planning; knowing what is the maximum amount of money you can spend on your holiday makes a lot easier choosing a destination, selecting a hotel and planning your things-to-dos.

How to set up a vacation budget

Vacation budget consists of the following costs:
– getting to the destination (airfare/car rental, public transport)
– accommodation
– meals
– activities
– expenditures (vaccination, visa, insurance)

Keep in mind that a vacation budget is never a fixed rule to follow, but rather a guide on how to structure the costs, and prepare for some unforeseen expenses. Set up a realistic travel budget that includes some flexibility so you will be able to make the best spending choices and handle unexpected situations too.

Pick up a destination

Once you have set up your budget, it will give you a clear guide on what destinations to look for. Sites like budget your trip give you an idea on what prices you can expect, but generally, South East Asian countries or Eastern European destinations need less money than traveling through for example in the US, Europe or Australia, so you need to do your research.

How to choose beach vacation location

Not only the price level, but also the destination’s general characteristics matter. Some countries are more suitable for families or young travelers with lots of activities to do, while others are great for the elderly who seek out relaxation. A tropical island can be a great choice as a honeymoon destination, but might be boring for teenagers. For those who prefer being on the move, a ‘city and beach’ place might be the best choice. Keep all travelers’ priorities in mind when doing your trip planning, so you can come up with options that will satisfy most parties.

Decide on the time and season

Picking a time to vacation is mostly based on when the travelers can take time off from work, or on summer and winter breaks if it comes to families. If your schedule is not flexible, start your beach vacation planning well in advance: fix your dates as soon as possible and secure your accommodation.

But keep in mind traveling in the peak season can have various disadvantages too besides the advantages of enjoying the destination’s most ideal weather conditions: except higher prices on everything from hotels to services as well as crowded places.

Perfect summer season for beach holiday - Drone footage

But who said that a beach vacation destination can be enjoyed only during the hot summer months? If you are flexible, schedule your trip for the shoulder or off-season. You might experience lower sea temperatures, but there are many winter sun destinations that feature excellent weather with plenty of sunshine and mild temperatures which are perfect for sightseeing and enjoying the natural attractions!

Also, answering the question of when to travel depends on the activities you wish to do too. While some beach destinations feature stable weather conditions all-year-round, others have drastically different conditions depending on the season including hurricanes, high seas or extreme wind. Keep this also in mind: check the climate and plan accordingly!

Find the perfect accommodation

The accommodation is not only the biggest part of your travel expense, but the place where you stay definitely determines the vibe of the whole holiday. Therefore, pay extra attention to this point when planning a beach vacation.

We are all different and have different priorities when traveling. For young travelers or backpackers, it is always easier to find hostels or camping sites, but bigger groups, families or seniors are always advised to start researching well in advance to find the right place to stay.

Hotels by the sea

If you can afford, choosing an all-inclusive beach resort is a never a bad idea. Having all meals included grants that all family members can enjoy fully the vacation without the worry of thinking about where to buy food and what to cook.

However, for many people, staying in a vacation rental is the coziest solution: you will not only have the whole place just for yourself, but usually it is more affordable than a hotel. Should you decide to rent a beach house, always double check what the price includes. Some owners offer many extras from a fully equipped kitchen to beach gear, while others include basic amenities only. Like this, you will know what to bring to the beach house and how to prepare in terms of cooking.

Discover local food and meal ideas

Discovering the local cuisine while on vacation is a must, so we definitely encourage you to eat out while on a vacation. Make researching the local foods and drinks and finding good restaurants a part of your trip planning, so arriving to your destination your will know what specialties to look for and where! Tripadvisor is a good to place to start with!

Beach restaurant

Trying out different restaurants is fun and definitely adds to the vacation experience, but in some places, it can be costly. If your vacation budget is tight, there is always a possibility to find affordable street food or takeaways, but the best is choosing a self-catering place where you have a kitchen.

You can save a lot of money if you decide to cook your own meal, and with a little planning and creativity, it won’t take much of your time. Plan a picnic on the beach, prepare healthy beach snacks, and arrive with a list of easy vacation meals to cook. Find discount groceries nearby, search for delivery options so that you won’t waste your energy on shopping and can focus on enjoying your holidays!

Packing

When wondering how to prepare for a beach vacation, packing is always a crucial part of the planning process. While some people can do it in the last minute, others prefer to plan in advance what to bring to the beach.

Writing a beach vacation packing list comes handy, especially when you travel by plane and the things you can take are limited. Also, a clear and overthought summary of the essentials helps to avoid overpacking as well as the extra cost of repurchasing the forgotten items.

What to pack for a beach vacation

Prior to your trip, check with your hotel or host what items (toiletries, towels, beach accessories) your accommodation includes, so that you don’t take unnecessary things from home they provide anyway. Follow the less is more rule: take only the essentials, pack fewer but practical clothes that can be combined easily, and leave all heavy items at home. The minimalist way of packing will definitely lead you to a more carefree and sustainable vacation experience!

Plan activities and things-to-do

Well, we understand that a well-deserved holiday is mostly about relaxation, but when being on a remote place, it would be such a shame missing out visiting the destination-specific attractions or trying out cool activities.

Make a list of the things-to-do and categorize them according to the cost so you will see what will fit into your budget. If you can’t afford to sign up for expensive programs, don’t worry! Be creative, go for exploration walks in the area where you stay, and seek out activities that are free and require little or no equipment. Also check if your destination has tourist cards with special discounts and offers on activities!

Man playing beach volleyball

When traveling with kids, prepare with beach games and check what things-to-dos the place can offer to avoid them getting bored. Packing your children’s favorite toys can be an option too, but before filling up your travel bag with such stuff, check with your accommodation if they have kids club on site, a playground nearby or can provide toys and games.

Last but not least, pack some books or your kindle so you can keep yourself or the kids entertained by reading interesting stories!

Take safety precautions

Being near the ocean is proven to have benefits for the body and mind, however it has some potential threats too, so taking the safety precaution should be definitely part of your beach vacation planning.

The first and most important is getting a travel insurance. It is essential not only for a months-long trip but also for a weekend getaway, especially if you are an active traveler who likes adventures.

Lifeguard - Beach first aid

Also check if the country where you will travel to requires any vaccination and get it in time if there is any.

The most common injuries on a beach vacation are sun and sea-creature related and can be avoided/treated easily. Besides your everyday medicaments, make sure to pack some essential items too to treat shell or coral cuts, sunburn or even sunstroke. A mini kit with wound cleanser, bandages and aloe gel is a must-to-pack. Also, don’t forget about a high UPF environment-friendly sunscreen.

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