If you're planning a beach vacation, here are plenty of sandcastles, water games and hops in front of you for a family moment. Our best beach trips are the ones where we pack all the important tools and toys, but also the ones where we don't overpack. What we bring depends on where we're going and whether we're driving or flying to our destination. Here are our shared tips for packing for a beach vacation with kids.

Tips for packing for a beach vacation with kids

       When packing for a trip to the beach with kids, you want to find the best place for you where you can have everything you need without overpacking. Knowing your destination and the types of beach facilities available there can help you plan. If you're visiting a beachfront resort that offers lounge chairs, umbrellas, towels and even toys, you'll only need the essentials. When driving to find your own public beach, you'll want to bring more items from home. If traveling by air, you will be limited to a few basics and may be able to purchase or rent some items when you arrive at your destination.

       Sometimes we stay at a beach resort and do some exploring on our own. Do your research by asking about items included in your hotel or available to rent nearby. When I arrive, I make a list of items to purchase to make sure we have everything we need and free up luggage space.

Pack the necessary sun protection

       Wherever you go, you'll need to add these items to your list when packing for a beach vacation with kids: hats/masks, sunglasses, kids rashguard, UV protection shirts or UV protection sets, reef-safe sunscreen, lip balm with sunscreen, these are so important!

       You can pack these items or add them to your shopping list of items to purchase when you arrive. Sometimes it's easier to buy full-size liquid sunscreen at your destination during your flight. Some beach destinations in Hawaii and Florida have banned the sale of chemical sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate to protect coral reefs and marine life.

       At the beach and in the water, each of us wears a wide-brimmed hat with a hat band to protect our heads and faces. Although the sand and water reflect the sun's rays, taking these steps definitely helps minimize sun damage and keeps everyone from burning and feeling excited.

       A full UV suit will protect your child's sensitive skin. This saves us time and saves her from accidental burns and sun damage because we only need to apply sunscreen to her face, ears, hands and feet. Keep in mind that wet UV protective clothing can leave the body cold after leaving the water.

       If you are not at a resort beach that provides shade, bring a parasol or some kind of shade to help keep those rays off of you. Seeking shade under trees is also possible, but this option is not always available. Setting up camp in the shade will also keep food from getting cold and water bottles from getting hot.