suitcase200 Lighten up or, in some cases, you’ll pay (United charges 25 bucks for that second suitcase).

You’d think that after dozens of beach vacations, I’d know not to overpack my kids’ suitcases. The problem isn’t so much overstuffed bags or overloaded cars as much as it’s wasted time. Why rack my brain thinking of a million items that I think they may need, when really all it takes is a handful of essentials? After our last trip to St. Kitts and Nevis, I decided it was high time to acknowledge the fact that each of us – yes, my husband and I included – rarely wears more than a handful of tops and bottoms during a weeklong excursion. Here’s what a week at the beach boils down to:

• 2 bathing suits
• 1 cover-up
• 2-3 tees
• 2 pairs of shorts
• 1 or 2 sundresses
• A week’s worth of undies
• 2 pairs of pajamas
• Sunscreen, goggles, flip flops and a few simple beach toys
• 1 towel (if you’re renting a house rather than staying in a hotel)

I know what you’re thinking: This does NOT add up to 7 days of outfits. But when you really get down to it, the kids are suited up all day long. And most nights – if you’re renting a beach house or condo – you won’t step foot out the door but to pick up a few scoops of ice cream. Even if you head to a restaurant each morning or evening, an hour of dining does not require a brand new ensemble. One or two basic combos will do the job. Really. Try it and you’ll see. Next time I head to Long Beach Island, NJ, I’ll follow my own advice. I promise.

Are you an overpacker? Comment now… Kara Mayer Robinson is a regular contributor to