We often talk about activities and places to visit while traveling to Southern California Beach towns, but before you can visit our local beach towns... you have to pack a suitcase. With luggage restrictions and uncertainty about the weather it can be difficult to decide what to pack and what to leave behind. So we're bringing you a customized packing list for your next California vacation to towns like Newport Beach, San Clemente, Dana Point, and Corona Del Mar.
Rule of thumb: Keep it simple.
With this category, it is easy to get carried away and want to bring all those ‘southern California vacation’ outfits along with you. Trust us when we say low key is best. The key here is to pick tops that are easy to layer, as well as dress up and down for a daytime hike on the San Clemente Coastal Trail, or a relaxing dinner in the evening. Pull out a few basic looking tops, as well as one or two nicer tops (this is where you can feel free to bring patterns as well). We also like to use the 5 to 7 ratio. For every 7 days traveling, pack 5 tops. This will keep your look both fresh, and luggage-friendly.
For example, if we were packing for a 7 day trip right now, here are the women’s wear tops we might pack:
1 white t-shirt
1 black t-shirt
1 thin knit/light sweater OR flannel shirt
1 heavier sweater (practical for layering)
1 dressy blouse
For guys the same principles apply - basic tops, light layers neutral colors.
Rule of thumb: comfortable and versatile
In Southern California, you never know what the weather will be like. December can be warm and toasty, and summer nights can be chilly enough for hot cocoa. If you're If you are visiting in a Fall, Winter, or Spring season, we suggest packing 2-3 pairs of neutral bottoms per 5-7 days of stay, along with one pair of shorts. If you're visiting in the Summer, bring more shorts and fewer pairs of full length pants.
For example we might pack:
1 pair of dark wash jeans
1 pair of black jeans OR slacks
1 pair of casual lounge bottoms
1 pair of casual shorts
Rule of thumb: pack for YOUR vacation
When it comes to packing shoes, it's all about your vacation goals. Planning to lounge at the beach all week? Bring your flip flops. Planning to hike in the Angeles National Forest? Bring your hiking boots. Planning to walk around Disneyland all day everyday? Bring super comfortable and supportive shoes.
If you're not sure what you'll be up to, just throw in your most comfortable pair of sandals or everyday walking shoes for the daytime, and pack a casual but chic pair for more dressy events. We always recommend packing the least amount of shoes possible to save luggage space.
For example you might pack:
1 pair of running shoes
1 pair of flip flops
1 pair of ballet flats
Rule of thumb: be ready to layer
The tricky part about Southern California is the surprisingly unpredictable weather. No matter what time of year you are planning to visit, be sure to bring some sort of outerwear at least as thick as that college hoodie you’ve saved over the years, especially if you're planning to go for a sunset cruise or enjoy a nighttime bonfire at the beach. If you're visiting in the winter and are planning to watch the holiday boat parades, then you might want to bring a real jacket.
Rule of thumb: fun and functional
Accessories are a nice way to be prepared for anything in your Southern California vacation wardrobe. Choose a couple pieces of simple jewelry you would feel comfortable wearing while exploring and walking along the beach, and don’t forget a hat to protect yourself from the harsh sun!
For example you might pack:
1 baseball cap or sun hat
Sunglasses. Pack a pair or buy one as a souvenir when you arrive.
1 statement necklace (can be worn with most of the tops mentioned above)
1 casual (and water resistent!) watch
1 versatile scarf (this can keep the sun off your shoulders and keep you warm on cool nights).
1 versatile purse and/or one sturdy beach bag
AND OF COURSE...
Bring a bathing suit.
Whether you're planning to swim, snorkel, sunbathe on your rooftop balcony, or soak in the hot tub, you'll want to bring a bathing suit that fits your vacation goals.
Other Vacation Essentials:
So now you've planned your vacation wardrobe and you know you'll have something to wear every day. You're well on your way to having a great time! A few more essential items will make your trip even more comfortable and convenient.
DON'T FORGET TO BRING:
A camera. You probably already have one on your phone, but if you've ever wanted a fancier camera or a go-pro, now is the time to buy it.
A water bottle. Bring it for the plane ride, bring it for the beach hikes, bring it for that long sunny day at Disneyland.
Sunscreen. You can buy sunscreen when you arrive of course, but if you have space in your luggage, go ahead and bring your favorite sunscreen with you.
WHAT ABOUT BEACH GEAR?
If you're staying with Beachside Vacation Rentals we'll provide beach towels, beach chairs, a beach umbrella, a cooler, and more, so don't worry about packing any of those things! If you're planning to surf while you're here you can easily rent a board.
Some beach items you might want to bring:
If you have a favorite snorkel or pair of swimming goggles go ahead and bring them. They won't take up much space and you'll be more comfortable than you would be with rental goggles.
You can easily rent a wet suit during your stay, but if you're planning to surf and you have a wet suit that you love you might want to bring that instead.
Do your kids love climbing around on beach rocks? A pair of water shoes can help protect their feet and keep them from slipping.
And of course, if you're planning to visit the beach, bring a beach bag to tote along your beach essentials.
1. Remember, if you're staying with Beachside Vacation Rentals you will have access to a washer and dryer.
Doing laundry mid-stay will allow you to pack less, which makes your luggage load lighter!
2. Wear your heaviest clothes on the plane.
This will lighten up your luggage and ensure you have enough layers for the often chilly airplane vents.
3. Pack extra plastic baggies.
Packing ziplocs and extra trash bags is our go-to tip for traveling. These come in handy for separating toiletries, collecting your trash at the beach, waterproofing electronics, protecting clothes from dirty shoes, and so much more!
4. Research the weather ahead of time.
Our list of packing items is a large overview, so be sure to check what the weather will be like here before you arrive. Although you want to pack for a variety of circumstances, any weather site will be helpful to guide you in which specific items you fill your bags with!
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