Beach vacation booked — check. Flip flops, bathing suit, and sunglasses ready to go — check. You're all set, right? Maaaaaybe not. Although there is nothing wrong with hitting the beach on the fly, some of you more seasoned vacationers may prefer a little more planning ahead to make that beach getaway extra enjoyable. If you're making a trip to the sandy shore this year (or ever, really) read on for the ten best tips, tricks, and hacks to make that beach vacay low in stress and high in fun for the whole family.
1. Head Out Early
Prime locations near the water can fill up fast, so you'll want to arrive at the beach early to stake your claim with a beach blanket, towel, umbrella, etc. Then your spot becomes just that — your spot for as long as you stay. Latecomers may find the most desirable areas are already full, so be the early bird and get that worm.
2. Pack Plenty Of Grub
Although it feels like fun, swimming and running around on the sand is actually really good exercise, which means you and your kiddos or grandkiddos will be burning extra calories. Pack a cooler or hot/cold bag with lots of healthy food for the whole family and refuel often. If you want to be extra prepped, freeze your drinks the night before for cool beverages all day long.
3. Bring Extra Bags
It's no fun going back to your resort dripping wet. Extra bags can come in handy for transporting wet clothing and towels, as well as for packing up your trash. Leaving trash on the beach is extremely harmful for wildlife, not to mention it's actually illegal in many places (and just not cool). Bag it up and pack it out!
4. Protect Your Phone
Wet phone = beach day bummer (total understatement). Put that expensive mobile device in a re-sealable plastic bag to keep out water and sand. A sandwich baggie will do, or many retailers sell sturdier re-sealable bags designed for beach protection. Might be a good investment for you regular beach bums.
5. Leave Designer Shades At Home
The number one item that ends up broken, stolen, or forgotten on beach trips is sunglasses. Your Ray Bans look awesome, no doubt, but you'll be heartbroken if they get lost or damaged. Bring that bargain pair you bought at the gas station instead.
6. Safely Stash Your Valuables
Leaving your keys, wallet, and phone laying out unprotected on your beach towel is like a beacon to thieves while you're splashing in the waves. Get creative about storing them out of sight. An empty sunscreen bottle, a Pringles jar, a non-transparent water bottle, or even inside a folded-up diaper could be just the place to keep those valuables safely out of sight.
7. Hit The Dollar Store
If your beach vacation involves air travel, it may be hard to pack the requisite shovels, buckets, and sand toys for those kids you're bringing along. Most beach areas will have a dollar store or other bargain option nearby, which is the perfect place to pick up some inexpensive beach entertainment for your kids.
8. Bring Extra Clothes & Towels
It might sound like a no-brainer, but many beach-goers have forgotten this once or twice. Since the beach is a place where things sometimes get wet, you all know what happens when someone's clothes, shoes, or towel accidentally gets soaked (cue the whining, moaning, and complaining). Be prepared with extras, just in case.
9. Don't Forget The Sun Protection
You all know too much sun is harmful for your skin, and even more so for the littles. Pop-up beach tents for shade are all the rage, as are beach umbrellas. Sunscreen or sunblock, rash guards, and sun hats are all good options for making sure your day at the beach doesn't end in a nasty sunburn. Look for coral reef-safe sunscreen options to help protect the ocean, which is required in Hawaii and parts of Florida.
10. Last But Not Least, Unplug
It's hard to make memories with your family if you're glued to your phone or tablet. It's easy to get caught up in what's going on at work or on social media, but you might miss out on the simple pleasures that are right in front of you. Don't let that special moment pass you by. Snap a photo or two, and then stash it away. You'll be glad you did.