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The Sunshine State of Florida is full of things to do and see, from endless beaches to fun Orlando theme parks. Being prepared for this array of adventures, all in one trip, is where you need to have a dependable Florida packing list, like this one.
Being from a cold-weather state, a Florida beach vacation somehow makes its way onto our calendars every winter season. It’s a much-needed break from the frost and a chance to soak up some natural vitamin D. Since we’ve been planning Florida vacations from the time my kids were in diapers (and they’re now at the age to start drivers training), we have our Florida packing list down to a science!
Florida Packing List: Basic Travel Necessities
No matter what your Florida vacation plans include, the following items are important to consider as part of your packing list.
- Layered clothing
- Packing cubes
- Phone charger
- Flip flops and a pair of sneakers
- Sun protection and aloe
- Insect repellent
I’ve made the mistake of thinking that the “sunshine state” is always hot and sunny, year-round. The truth is, it has seasons and sometimes they happen all in one day. Because you can go from 50 degrees to 80 degrees in a matter of 24 hours, or rain to sunshine and back again, it is important to always come prepared for the weather.
This means packing warmer clothes along with your t-shirts, bathing suits, sundresses and tank tops.
Over the years, I’ve learned that packing cubes are essential! They allow me to separate my clothes by cold days vs. hot days or by clean vs. dirty as we go through the trip. And if you like to unpack your suitcase into the dresser drawers when you arrive at your destination, it’s as easy as taking the cubes from your suitcase and placing them where you want them. No refolding and repacking needed!
Recommended packing cubes: BAGAIL 6 Set Packing Cubes
Do you tend to leave your toiletries behind because you still need to use them the morning of your departure? Or is that just me?
This is one of the biggest challenges I face while packing and it’s always super frustrating when I forget to bring my expensive shampoo and conditioner with me on vacation or worse, home with me from a trip. To reduce the monetary sting of forgotten shampoo, I’ve switched to using refillable mini bottles when I travel. I also keep a travel toothbrush and toothpaste in my toiletries bag so I don’t forget them at home.
This toiletries bag is great for storing your items. It’s easier to always keep it stocked instead of repacking my items for every trip.
If your family is like mine, you probably have a handful of chargers to bring with you on your Florida vacation. There’s one for each phone, a few for the kids’ gaming systems and a USB cord for my portable blender.
The easiest way I’ve found to stay organized and reduce loss is to get each member of the family their own charger-carrying case. If your kids are young or you simply want to consolidate, a family-sized charger carrying case may work better.
Flip Flops and Pair of Sneakers
On our last trip to Florida, we found ourselves shoe shopping for our son who didn’t bring warm enough shoes to weather a week of unseasonably cold temperatures. Funny enough, while at the store we ran into another out-of-town father who was also shoe shopping with this flip flop wearing (and freezing) son.
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You may be inclined to only pack flip flops, but I would recommend bringing a pair of sneakers with you to Florida as well. Not only are comfortable shoes important for long days walking around theme parks, you may want them on those not-so-sunny days.
Recommended sneakers: Allbirds Tree Runners
Sun Protection and Aloe
Rather than buy it when I get there, I always pack my favorite sun protection items like sunscreen and aloe. For me, it’s easier to have it on hand and be ready to play in the sun rather than need to run to the store after we arrive.
TravelingMom Tip: Check out our list of Best Sunscreens for Babies and Kids.
Florida Packing List: Beach Day
If a beach vacation is part of your plan, add the following items to your Florida packing list!
- Beach bag
- Beach towel
- Refillable water bottle
- Sun hat
- Lip balm
- Swim shoes
- Beach toys for kids
- Book or music
- Lockbox for valuables
- Beach blanket or chair
I’m a sucker for a good bag and when heading to the beach, I adore Bogg Bags. They have plenty of useful space and internal “dry bag” pockets for your phone or keys. Plus, at the end of the day, you can simply hose off the sand because they’re made of waterproof, durable material.
Recommended beach bag: BOGG BAG Waterproof Washable Tote
Choosing the best swimsuit for your beach vacation can be challenging. However, after many failed attempts, we think we’ve found some pretty great options!
I typically opt for bathing suits with sun protection fabric. However, for my son and husband, we’ve moved to chafe-free DryFins Boys Swim Trunks. Instead of the itchy traditional liner, these have a soft spandex-like liner that my son with sensory sensitivity to fabrics tolerates well.
The best cover ups I’ve used have had quick-dry properties and UPF sun protection.
Recommended cover up: prAna Mantra Bay Tunic – Women’s
Refillable Water Bottle
Packing a refillable water bottle is a great idea for several reasons. Not only is it less waste, but I bought each of my kids their own color bottle and we no longer have the question of who’s drink is whose. We fill them up and take them everywhere with us. The beach is no different and with our Yeti Ramblers, they stay cold the entire time. The best part is, these water bottles are super easy to run through the dishwasher because the lid comes off completely.
Recommended refillable water bottle: YETI Rambler 26 oz Bottle
Sunburn can happen quickly with the intense Florida sun. I always keep sunscreen within reach. My favorite sunscreen to use for myself is Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Weightless Sunscreen Face Lotion. See which sunscreens TravelingMom writers recommend for babies and kids.
Don’t forget an SPF lip balm as part of your sun-protection measures!
Recommended lip balm: Sun Bum SPF 30 Sunscreen Lip Balm
When heading to the beach, a good pair of water shoes is always a good idea – especially for young kids! The sand can be hot or have sharp shells or rocks in it. Water shoes work well to protect their feet from burns and injury.
There also are nice-looking water shoes for adults that even work great for taking walks on the beach!
Beach Toys for Kids
After buying beach toys at the local surf shop on each trip, year after year, we now know about collapsable beach toys that are easy to transport!
These are a game-changer. We can easily take them home and pack them again for our next trip!
Good Book or Music
If you’re planning to spend the day on the beach, or at least a few hours, it’s nice to have a good book and something that plays music. A Kindle can be used in place of packing multiple books and a JBL clip waterproof speaker has great sound and clips right on your beach bag.
Recommended waterproof speaker: JBL Clip 3
Lockbox for Valuables
If you’re planning to visit a crowded beach or even leave your chair for a dip in the cool water, a portable lock box safe is something you’ll also want to pack. Our favorite is the SAFEGO Portable Indoor/Outdoor Lock Box Safe with Key and Combination Access that you can attach directly to your beach chair or beach bag.
Beach Blanket or Chair
Depending on where you’re going in Florida and your mode of transportation, you may want to consider packing your own beach chair. Whenever we road trip to Florida, I like to bring my favorite Copa Big Tycoon Lightweight Folding Aluminum Beach Chair with me. It comes with a canopy to keep the sun out of my eyes…and bird poop off my head. Plus, it’s lightweight and has a built-in carrying strap that makes it easy to carry down to the beach on my own.
If you don’t have a lot of room, a spacious family-sized beach blanket can also do the trick.
Florida Packing List: Theme Parks
If you’re planning on visiting any of the Orlando theme parks, plan on adding these items to your Florida packing list! And if Disney is your destination, you’ll want to check out our Disney packing list.
- Bug spray
- Hand sanitizer
- Cardigan or light jacket
- Liner socks
- Walking shoes
- Portable phone charger
We always bring a daypack with us when we visit theme parks! It makes carrying everything we need for the day easy. Below are all of the items we consistently pack in our daypack.
Recommended daypack: Venture Pal 40L Lightweight Packable Travel Daypack
Especially during Covid-19, but also any other time, hand sanitizer is a useful thing to pack for a day at a theme park. Simply attach a bottle of PURELL Advanced Hand Sanitizer Gel or any other clip-on sanitizer bottle to your daypack to keep your hands sanitized throughout your day, easy!
Cardigan or Light Jacket
Packing a cardigan or light jacket in your daypack can help you extend your fun at Orlando theme parks. When the sun sets, or when it rains, the sunshine state can get quite chilly!
To keep my feet dry and comfy throughout the day in the Florida heat, I always pack liner socks to wear during my day at the park.
If you track your steps, you’ll likely be amazed by how much you walk during a day at the parks! Packing a good pair of walking shoes is key and your feet will thank you later!
Recommended walking shoes: Allbirds Tree Runners
We have a joke in our family that every time we take a vacation, it rains. The truth is, it’s not uncommon for small rain showers to pop up during the day in Florida. However, it doesn’t have to ruin your day. Simply pack a poncho in your daypack for each member of the family and keep on having fun!
Portable Phone Charger
My phone always loses its charge while I’m at a Florida theme park because the camera app is almost always running while we take memorable family photos. Don’t worry about being without your phone, pack a portable phone charger, like this one from Amazon, in your day pack.
Recommended portable phone charger: Anker Portable Charger, 313 Power Bank
Florida Packing List: Road Trip Essentials
- Coins, cash and credit cards
- First aid kit
- Tote or collapsible box with snacks
- Hand wipes
- Cooler and drinks
- Garbage bags
- Portable potty
- Phone chargers
- Car phone holder
- Road trip games
Coins, Cash and Credit Cards
If you’re planning to road trip to Florida, be sure to bring plenty of coins and cash, along with your credit cards. Chances are, you will find yourself on a toll road, as they are quite prevalent through the sunshine state, especially near Orlando.
First Aid Kit
Having a first aid kit in your car while traveling is always a good idea! We have this one from Target and keep it in our car glovebox at all times.
Tote or Collapsible Box with Snacks
In order to keep everyone happy while you travel, and cut back on unnecessary stops, we always pack up a collapsible box with snacks for our drive. Things like granola bars, Cheez-Its, and Veggie Straws are a few of our favorite road trip snacks.
TravelingMom Tip: Not sure what road trip snacks to pack to keep your toddler happy during a long car ride? Here are the Best Road Trip Toddler Snack Ideas.
Instead of packing hand sanitizer in our road trip bag, we always grab the sanitizer wipes instead. They work better to remove sticky food remnants off our hands and are great for wiping down objects as needed.
Cooler and Drinks
In order to keep drinks within reach, we bought this upright cooler. It has plenty of space and because it’s taller than typical coolers, it doesn’t get buried under our luggage. Plus, it has a removable liner that is easy to take out and clean with soap and water.
Recommended drink cooler: Coleman 42-Can Soft Cooler
There’s nothing worse than a messy car needing to be cleaned up after you arrive at your destination! To keep our vehicle trash-free during our road trip, we always pack small garbage bags to toss our garbage in. Then, we can simply toss it out at gas stations along the way.
If you’re traveling with little ones, you may want to pack a portable potty to make bathroom stops easier. Not only are public rest areas sometimes dirty, but trying to get a kid to use them is another battle you may not feel like having after a long day on the road.
If your vehicle is short on USB ports, we recommend packing a car charger with multiple ports. Most chargers can be plugged into your 12v-24v vehicle outlets and cigarette lighters. We bought this one because it has USB ports on the base and a long cord that also reaches the back seats.
Car Phone Holder
If you plan to use your phone for directions, be sure to pack a phone holder for your car. This way, your GPS directions can be easily within view and you can stay safe and hands-free!
Recommended car phone holder: andobil Phone Mount for Car
Road Trip Games
We’ve played the “I Spy” game too many times to count! We also created our own game of “count how many palm trees you see” a few times before. Don’t get caught hearing “I’m bored” over and over again, check out this list of 21 Road Trip Games That Keep Everyone Entertained. Pack your favorites and let the fun begin!