With the official start of summer this month, it’s time to start packing your beach bag. Whether you’re headed out for a day trip or a week-long vacay, having all your essentials right at your fingertips is a summer luxury. All it takes is a little pre-planning before you feel the sand between your toes. Here are a few tips:

Start with a great beach bag. Woven straw and raffia bags are topping the fashion charts this summer in slouchy silhouettes … the bigger the better. Embellished bags are dripping with tassels, fringe and pom-poms. Personalize them with an embroidered monogram for even more fashion flair. Waterproof beach bags are also a good idea, especially if you’re a regular at the beach.

Add a packable hat. You don’t need to worry about fancy or fluffy feathers. You’re not going to a royal wedding or a horse race. But you do need to worry about the sun. Make sure that you wear a big brimmed hat that covers your face. There are plenty of crushable hats – even ones with big brims – that can easily be stashed in your beach bag…or your carry-on if you’re road tripping or flying to fun in the sun.

Don’t forget sunglasses. Another must-have for the beach. Critical for protection from UV rays, sunglasses can also make a fashion statement. Oversize shades offer both style and extra shade for your face. Leave the itty-bitty ’90s sunglasses at home. Look for space age Matrix styles to show up in all the hot spots this summer, as well as colorful, reflective-mirrored aviators.

And, of course, sunscreen. With increased awareness of skin cancer risks, hopefully your beach bag will include your favorite sunscreen. Finding the ultimate sunscreen that won’t leave a greasy residue, won’t cause skin breakouts and stays on despite sweating may leave you frustrated. But most manufacturers of sun products now give you plenty of options to choose from, depending on your individual needs. Most dermatologists recommend a broad-spectrum UVA-UVB protection with an SPF of at least 30 – if not more. Check out all the “Sun-Smart Tools” at Coppertone.

Throw in a few extras. Every trip to the beach is different, but if you’ve got a big enough beach bag, then you’ve got plenty of room to stash a few more things. Roll up a colorful towel to double as a picnic blanket; include an extra pair of rubber flip-flops just in case. There’s nothing worse than trying to hop across hot sand while trying to keep your cool at the same time. If you’re meeting friends for dinner or drinks later, throw in an extra pair of dressier sandals. Mix and match swimwear pieces also allow for plenty of possibilities. Coverups are always essential, and a silky kimono or poncho in a tropical print or a slinky maxi tank dress will always beat out your boyfriend’s giant ratty T-shirt.

Now that you’ve packed for the beach…you may never want to leave.

Happy summer!