12 Must Haves for Your Summer Bag

This summer, we have been on the go seemingly non-stop!  I have come to the conclusion that some things are just a must-have in our summer bag.  I’ve been keeping a big beach bag in my van at all times, which I keep stocked with our necessary items.  I also pack a small lunch tote each morning that I know we’ll be going somewhere.  Are you on the go as well, toting along a kid or two or more?

12 Must Haves for your Summer Bag

Summer Bag Must Haves for Families

1. Towels – Even if you don’t plan on going out into any water, towels are a great idea.  They can double as a picnic blanket, and they are perfect for wiping off sweaty necks and heads.  They can also make car rides easier if it is a hot day out.  You can drape towels over car seats or belt buckles to reduce the chance of burning metal touching your kids’ bodies when they get back in the vehicle.  You can also use one to wipe down slides that might have gotten wet in recent rain shower.  They make good makeshift nursing covers (if you even need one).  We’ve even used towels as a “time out” space when out and about if needed.  They’re pretty darn versatile!

2. Water (and other refreshing beverages) – No matter where you plan on going this summer, please, please keep yourself and your family hydrated!  We always keep a bottle of water in our bag for emergencies.  However, on the day of our outings, I like to pack cold drinks in a little lunchbox or cooler.  I do worry about plastics and heat and all the leeching chemicals and all of that, which is why that one single bottle is an emergency bottle.  Get creative with your containers, too!  I like to use tumblers with a lid and straw for my drinks, and the kids like juice pouches or even sports drinks.  They’ll also drink water that I pack for them.  They’re not picky when they’re thirsty!

3. Sunscreen – I like to carry both the spray and lotion.  I like to use the spray on everyone’s bodies so we can move things along quicker, but then use the lotion on their faces.

We always use  SPF 50 and above.  With skin cancer running on both sides of my kids’ family, I want to make sure they are super protected, and I apply to myself as well.  I am shocked at how many tubes and bottles we have ALREADY gone through this year, and it’s just July!

mustela play safe in the sun set

I recently got some review samples of Mustela.  Mustela®’s  Play Safe in the Sun Set  retails for$32.00 and includes  Mustela® Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen Lotion ($22.00), Mustela® Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen Stick ($16.00), and Mustela® Facial Cleansing Cloths ($9.00).

I especially like the sunscreen stick for my kids’ little faces.  At least one of them always seems to get a run of sunscreen into their eyeball, leading to massive meltdown once we’ve gotten all settled at the splash pad or pool.  The stick makes application really easy, and it helps me to avoid the unavoidable and look a little more like a hero instead of the evil villain mom.

I love the lotion, and really their whole line of products because they are free of paraben, phtalate, and phenoxyethanol.  All 3 products are also hypoallergenic, so I don’t have to worry about it irritating their delicate skin.  This is really important to me for my eczema-prone 2 year old, and will be super important for my new little one this fall.  They’re also fragrance-free and the sunscreen is sweat and water resistant up to 40 minutes.

4. Sunglasses – Your eyes need protection, too!  Not only that, but it might save your face from getting (more) crows feet and little wrinkle lines all over your forehead from squinting.  I’ve been trying to protect my eyes just like I do my skin.  I really need to get on the ball and do the same for my kids!

5. Wipes – Even if you don’t have a baby, wipes can really come in handy.  I like to use one after applying sunscreen all over the kids.  They’re also great for cleaning a sticky, questionable picnic table at the park.  Wipes are perfect for wiping off gross food from you or your kids’ fingers.  They can help refresh your face after a long, sweaty day.

As a Saline Ambassador, I get samples of Boogie Wipes quarterly to pass out, but I always keep a few for using on the go.  Mustela® Facial Cleansing Cloths are another great option.  Baby wipes will do, too.

6. Bandages – Every single time I forget to restock our stash in the bag, some kid of mine gets hurt and immediately demands a bandage.  I hate scrambling to find one, or having to borrow from friends.  My solution is to simply pack way more than we’ll ever need and call it good.

However, be sure to pack a variety.  Horror of horrors, I only had Captain America bandages one day, and my daughter refused to wear it.  Yes, my 9 year old that totally knows better.  She chose, instead, to sit out from playing at the splash pad instead of being seen in public with a boyish bandage.  Seriously.

7. Wallet and Keys – I know, I know, no one wants to lug around all of their stuff in an already full summer bag.  Hear me out, though.  Instead of leaving all of your most important documents and cards out in the car for someone to snatch, why not keep them close to where you’ll be perched for the day?

I know there are tons of ways to hide your wallet and its contents, but I recently got a sample of Finders Key Purse Key Finder and have to say that it is an awesome way to keep track of your keys.  First of all, it doesn’t scream out, “HEY!!!  The keys are right here!  Come and get ’em, steal them please!”

Silver Floral Finders Key Purse Key Finder

At the same time, what it does do is clip on easily to any bag or purse.  The outside part is a cute design of your choice (they have over 100), and then hanging inside of your bag on the backside of the devise will be your keys.  They clip securely to the Finders Key Purse so that there are no more panicky moments of digging through your bag, trying to decide if your keys have been stolen, lost, or (worst of all) locked in the car.

Butterflies Finders Key Purse Key Finder

They start at just $5.95, and I like mine.  I got one for my green summer beach bag and one for my big teal grandma purse (literally, my grandma gave it to my daughter and I borrowed it from her….) that I take to events where I’ll need everything and the kitchen sink.

8. Lip Balm – I really can’t go an hour or two without applying lip balm.  However, being outside really makes me need it more.  I do like lip balms with some SPF in it for when I’m in direct sunlight, but I also like to experiment with other kinds.  I have some Chapstick that I like pretty well, adore my Burt’s Bees lip balm, and enjoy my handmade tubes from Clear Hills Honey Company.

Belli Sheer Comfort Lip Balm

I got a sample of Belli Sheer Comfort Lip Balm ($12.00) and have really been enjoying it.  Because it is made from ultrapurified lanolin oil, it has a thicker consistency than my normal balms, and it stays put for a long time.  They have a ton of products for pregnancy and beyond, and I can’t wait to try more of their goodies.  Their products contain no artificial dyes or fragrances, no phthalates, and no paraben preservatives.  That rocks for me, because I’ve been trying to go more natural with more of my personal care products lately. If this lip balm is any indication of their quality, I’m sure their whole line is awesome.

9. Diapers, Swim Diapers, Training Pants – Okay, so maybe this one only applies to people with littles in tow, but for me this one is a biggie!  Even as a veteran mom, I have been caught in situations where we had no clean diapers and one very smelly child.  Sometimes we don’t even have wipes.  It’s a really bad situation to be in, particularly if you’re not with a bunch of other moms with little kids.  At least in that instance, you could borrow!

Because of my past experiences, I now try to have a huge stack of diapers, pull ups, and/or swim diapers handy at ALL times.  You just never know when you’ll need one.  Yes, this applies even if you’re only supposed to be gone for 15 minutes.  Trust me on this.

10. Swimsuits – We keep our swimsuits permanently placed in our bag until we need it.  This summer, we have been changing before we leave the house any chance we can, just to save time.   In that case, I stuff our bag with their dry day clothes to change into when we’re done swimming or splashing around.  If you are going swimming, don’t forget to pack a bag for wet suits and/or towels.  They sell big, bright nylon laundry bags at Dollar Tree that work just fine for this.  Alternatively, you could use plastic or cloth shopping bags (I wash the bag if I’ve been toting around wet suits), or you could use wet bags if you have them.

Hapari Maternity Swimwear

Obviously, for me, I pack my awesome Hapari Swimwear.  For my boys, I make them wear a swim shirt and swim trunks.  My youngest actually wears a one piece suit that saves me so much time and effort on sunscreen application.  My daughter wears a tankini, but we try to still remain modest and cover as much skin as we can.  Hers is a cute set from Target and came with some little shorts, too, which she does wear.

11. Quick Snacks – Yes, I’m a hungry pregnant lady.  Yes, my children eat me out of house and home.  Carrying food around EVERYWHERE we go is just not an option.  For simple summer snacks, I like to include things like fruit leathers, beef jerky, trail mix, crackers, prefrozen yogurt tubes (they thaw pretty quickly), small fruits like apples or clementines, mixed nuts, pepperoni, and cheese.

If we have enough items that need to be chilled, I will fill a small lunchbox with these items and also put a few cold drinks in there to keep everything more chilly.  Somehow, we always go home with an empty lunchbox!

12. Your phone or a camera – Don’t you want to capture all of the fun memories and document all of the fun you had?  I like to take pictures randomly, even if the moments don’t seem that special or exciting.  It amazes me how much the kids already appreciate the pictures, and I can only imagine how happy they’ll be to have them when they’re older and the memories aren’t as fresh.

Which items are staples in YOUR Summer Bag?

About Jenn L

Jenn lives in Fort Worth, Texas with her husband and 5 children. The family likes to eat healthy and try new recipes. Jenn homeschools all of the kids. She is heavily involved with local bloggers and is slightly addicted to social media.


  1. It looks like we pack pretty much the same bag. I feel like a sherpa hauling everything around for my crew, but I’d rather be prepared. If I don’t have snacks they get hangry.
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  2. I think I should print this out and leave it next to my pool bag, I find that I am ALWAYS forgetting something. Thanks for thinking of everything. 🙂
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  3. Ok, that key thing is genius. I’m always losing my keys in the deep abyss of my pool bag, I definitely need to get my hands on one of those!
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  4. Great list – I have to admit I can’t go anywhere, much less the beach, without my lip balm! 🙂
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  5. Awesome list! After a couple camping trips I’ve gotten in the habit of taking water with me everywhere. And I don’t have kids in diapers any more but I still take wipes with me everywhere. I need to try the sunscreen stick. My kids all hate when I run the lotion on their faces.
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