Easy packing—less is more

It’s a summer tradition in Jersey. Each year, around February or early March when the cold weather has reached an unbearable peek, families up and down the state search out their ‘home away from home’ along the white sandy beaches of the Jersey coast.

Whether looking for a two bedroom condo or a grand six bedroom with the ocean as your backyard; one thing is certain—the tradition of a week at the shore carries on generation after generation.

Before purchasing in Brigantine, our family too, took part in this tradition. The first few seasons as a new family with baby in tow felt more like preparing for some sort of intense excursion where we may be deprived of food, water and other life’s necessities for seven nights (most Jersey shore vacations are seven nights—Saturday to Saturday). We packed everything. Clothes, shoes, blankets, towels, sheets, cribs, toys, bouncers, boogie boards, tents for too much sun, games for when their wasn’t any sun, DVDs, food and of course plenty of wine and beer.

Our small, four door sedan was packed in tight with just a sliver of room for the baby and ourselves. Those first few vacations, we learned the true meaning of ‘overpacking’. Once we became a bit more experienced, our car load got lighter and we were able to release some of the stress of planning and focus more on the vacation. Here’s what we learned:


A few weeks before our vacation I’d start a list of all articles of clothes needed for each kid. I purchased freezer bags to sort outfits (socks, shoes, hair ties, underwear). Each bag was labeled with the child’s name and day I intended for them to wear the outfit. Well that first morning at the shore I soon realized the weeks spent planning out these outfits was wasted. The kids woke up, tossed on their bathing suits, grabbed a towel and headed for the beach. That bathing suit became their uniform for seven straight days.

At most, each child will need a few bathing suits, shorts, t-shirts a sweat shirt and pjs. Maybe a pair of long pants if you expect cooler weather. I guarantee even if you think you are packing the minimum, your kids will wear half of what you packed. The truly do live in their bathing suit.


Ask what your landlord offers. Typically your rental will have games, books and puzzles so those can be left at home.

Beach gear

If you are lucky enough to score a place that provides beach gear then skip this part! (If you are staying with us you can skip past this. We have you covered.)

If you are bringing your own gear grab a few back pack chairs for the adults that have both cooler storage and dry storage. These are perfect to keep your hands free while you walk to the beach to condense what you’ll need to bring. Add in an umbrella and a large mesh beach bag with a few towels, sunscreen and toys and you will be set! (We typically don’t bring beach chairs for the kids as they are often playing in the sand or swimming in the ocean. If they do sit, they are perfectly content sitting on a beach blanket.)


I used to drive myself crazy spending the first day of our trip at an overly crowded Acme supermarket. It seemed like every single person in our beach town was grocery shopping (and let’s face it…since Saturday’s are check in day, they probably were).

It was a few years later when I realized the worlds best invention…grocery delivery. Now we simply order our groceries a few days in advanced and have it delivered right to our doorstep a few hours after check in.

We also discovered the connivence of freezer meals. Sure, this one takes a bit of extra planning but once you spend a few hours prepping, you are set for several meals at the shore with the adding bonus of saving money on dinners out.

What to leave home

We’ve already discussed what to bring, but what about things you can leave behind.

Check with your landlord to see if they supply sheets towels and pillows. This can be a huge space saver when packing.

Keep the dressy clothes, shoes and fancy jewelry at home. Not many places at the Jersey shore expect patrons in more than T-shirt’s and shorts. Take advantage of living laid back for a week!

Baby gear like pack n plays or high chairs are super cheap to rent. Save some space and the hassle of packing and rent from one of the several baby gear rental companies near by.

Above all…remember the best part of your week at the beach is time spent with family. Some of our best weeks have been those times we are all cooped up in the house, rain pouring down and puzzles and board games spread out on the floor.

Cheers to making family memories at Coastal Haven Condo!

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