Start your packing with pre-made lists.  Start months in advance during your free time creating a list of needed items for the beach vacation.  Revisit the list often to refine it.  Save the list for future Outer Banks vacations!

Eliminate unnecessary items.  Figure out which items can be bought or rented at the beach.  Also, many rental houses come fully loaded with beach chairs, carts, bicycles, beach toys, etc.  Take only what is absolutely necessary.  This lightens the load and improves your gas mileage.


A week before the Outer Banks trip, begin staging any items that you can in a spare room or garage area.  When it's time to finish the packing, stage the rest of the items and begin deciding which items will fit where in your vehicles and extra storage compartments.

Take care to make sure the weight distribution is appropriate.  Stack heavier items on the bottom and lighter items on top.

Consider packing ultra light items on top of the vehicle in tie-down bags and roof rack containers.

If everything doesn't fit, consider using a rental trailer or a hitch rack.  You can also purchase universal roof racks for on top of any vehicle.


Share the Purchases

When you have a list of all the food and toiletry items that you and your guests will need, then divide the list among all the families that are attending.  That way each person is responsible for a share of the needs.  

Have an organizational meeting ahead of time to complete these planning activities.

Buying at the Beach

If your preliminary list includes food items, beer, toiletries, and non-perishables then you may want to re-think those items.  Many vacationers are surprised to find prices at Outer Banks stores to be lower than prices in their home towns!  Grocery items, beer, toiletries, and non-perishable items can all be cheaper at the beach especially if you come from a remote area in-land with higher prices.  Reduce the list and you have less to pack and less to hull.

Our best buying tip for groceries is to sign up for a discount card at the nearest grocery store once you get to your rental house.  This will allow you to enjoy the local specials and discount prices.

The Lists

The best way to get started on planning your Outer Banks vacation is to make some lists.  First and foremost, a list of possible rental houses, apartments, hotels, campgrounds, or bed and breakfasts.  Second, a list of who is going to go with you.  Third, a list of items to take.  Fourth, a list of things you would like to do while on this vacation.  And finally the "To Do List."  The infamous list of everything to do before the trip begins.