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What to Pack When You Rent a Beach House

Renting a beach house?  Not sure what to bring?  This list of things to pack has you covered.

Renting a beach house? Not sure what to bring? This list of things to pack has you covered.

What Should You Pack?

It's a great feeling when you click on the "Book Now" button when renting a house at the beach. You can almost feel the sand between your toes and hear the sound of the waves crashing along the shore. You know that in a little while you will be experiencing it all, and you can't wait. The biggest dilemma now is deciding on what to take. That's why I've come up with this list of what to pack when you rent a beach house.

Having rented houses at the Outer Banks almost every summer for the last 20 plus years, we have packing down to a science. We even have a space set aside in our storage room for things that we take. Most of the items are ready to go from year to year.

The Most Important Thing to Remember

The items on this list are only suggestions.

Before you do any packing, it's extremely important to read your rental agreement and the property management's policies. Every company and/or house you rent can be different. The agreement and/or website should tell you what is included with the house and what you can and cannot bring.

Also, this packing list assumes that the house you are renting comes with basic kitchen utensils, dishes and cookware. We have rented from property management companies and from individuals, and every house we've stayed in always had the basic kitchen necessities. Double-check just to make sure.

Any day on the beach is a good day!

Any day on the beach is a good day!

Things I Have Learned From Renting Beach Houses for 20 Years

  • Prior renters tend to leave things, like partially used cleaning supplies and paper products, so there may be some things already in the house.
  • Some rental companies provide guests with a starter kit that includes a roll of toilet paper and some dish detergent.
  • Things are considerably more expensive at the beach, so try to bring as much as you can from home.
  • You are always going to forget something. Don't sweat it if you do.
  • Don't over pack. When you are heading home, the last thing you want is to have a car that is too full.
  • If you have a washer and dryer, try to do all of your laundry the day before you leave. That way you don't have to do it when you get home.
Beach rentals usually have knives, but they are rarely sharp.  If you plan on doing a lot of cooking it might be a good idea to bring one along.

Beach rentals usually have knives, but they are rarely sharp. If you plan on doing a lot of cooking it might be a good idea to bring one along.

For the Kitchen

I have never rented a house that did not have basic kitchen supplies, but you never know, so bring a few that you can't do without.

Aluminum Foil

Paper Towels

Dish Rag

Resealable Plastic Bags (All Sizes)

Dish Soap

Sharp Knife

Dish Towels


Disinfecting Wipes

Trash Bags

Dishwasher Detergent

  • If you use dishwasher detergent tablets, throw a few in a zip-top bag instead of taking the whole box.
  • All of the houses we've rented had knives, but they were so dull, they could barely cut through cheese. If you plan on doing a lot of cooking, bring a good sharp knife.
  • Aluminum foil is great to cover the grill that may be provided for you, and it doubles as wrap for any leftovers you may have.
  • While you are still at home, set aside a bottle of dish soap that doesn't have much left in it. Take that to the beach and that way, you can just toss the bottle in the trash. It's a great way to make room for a souvenir!


Bath Mat

Bath Towels

Hand Soap

Hand Towels

Toilet Paper

  • Save those small hotel soaps and take them to the beach.
  • Take at least one roll of toilet paper. We rented a house one year and they didn't leave us a starter roll. That meant a 20-minute drive to the store after having just driven about 10 hours to get to the beach.
Don't forget the towels!

Don't forget the towels!


Bed Linens


Bath Mat

Before packing up loads of bed sheets, double check that your rental does not provide them. Some do. If they don't, see if you can rent them.

This year we had to drop our daughter off at her summer job on the way home from the beach, so we had a lot of extra luggage. That meant that we had a lot less space for our beach stuff.

We rented bed linens, and for the price we paid, it was well worth it. In fact, we'll probably rent them again, even if we do have the space to take them.

Beach Items

Beach Chairs

Small Cooler

Beach Towels


Beach Umbrellas


Waterproof Container

If space is limited in the vehicle you are taking, check into renting some of these items. In some beaches, there are businesses built around renting these things to visitors. Some even pick up and deliver right to the house you are staying in.

One year we were even able to rent a beach wheelchair for someone who was traveling with us.



Tea Bags


Salt and Pepper

Coffee Filters




Cooking Oil


Other Items as Desired

It's always good to bring paper products to the beach house.

It's always good to bring paper products to the beach house.

If there is a food item that you just can't live without, you probably want to bring it along. If not, most beach areas have a grocery store.

Our rule of thumb is to take a few essentials, but nothing that requires refrigeration, like meat or milk. We buy the rest once we've settled into the rental. For some things, I just use small zip-top bags to bring them. That saves space and waste.

Note: One thing to remember is that groceries at the beach stores usually cost more than they do at home.







Mesh Laundry Bag


Personal Toiletries


Small Grill

Laundry Detergent


  • In order to save space, you probably don't want to bring too many games and books. Most beach houses have an area with lots of choices for you. I love to read at the beach, so I usually take about 4 paperbacks and leave the ones I finish on the bookshelf.
  • The small grill is definitely optional. Most of the houses we have rented have a grill. Check with your rental company before you carry that with you.
  • Flashlights are a must. Not only is it fun to go on the beach at night, but we have lost power a few times over the years and our flashlight came in handy.
  • With respect to laundry detergent, if you can, get the laundry pods and bring some of those instead of a big bottle of liquid detergent. That is a definite packing space saver.
The water sure looks inviting!

The water sure looks inviting!

Pack Sensibly

I am known for over-packing when we go to the beach, so, even after all of these years of going, I make myself a list. Of course I always end up taking far too many clothes, but I doubt that will ever change.

The best thing to do is pack sensibly. That way you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your vacation!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Claudia Porter