With the end of the school year mayhem behind us and the first day of summer fast approaching, summer vacations have begun and at the top of the list for many families is a sandy destination. We start looking forward to our annual beach vacation just as soon as we head home from the beach the year before, so by the time all of the end of the school year festivities are in full swing, we are all getting very excited to head south!
Preparing for the beach can certainly be overwhelming. Stuffing beach chairs on top of luggage on top of coolers on top of toys is often like a frustrating jigsaw puzzle, BUT if you can keep the end in sight, it is all worth it the moment you breathe in that salty air and feel the ocean breeze blowing through the car windows. Enjoy the subtle reminders paradise awaits!
We have been doing family beach trips for four summers now and I finally feel like we are getting the hang of things, with each trip becoming a whole lot less stressful and a whole lot more fun. I thought I would share a few packing tips and tricks we have learned along the way to maybe make your trip a bit more enjoyable too!
1. First up of course is sunscreen. I recommend bringing this from home in case of skin sensitivities or particular brand preferences so you don’t have to hunt multiple local stores. The stores may be different in your destination city and they may not carry exactly what you are looking for!
2. Bring travel-sized everything possible. You’ll save a ton of weight and space in your suitcases if you’re able to bring smaller sized liquids. Typically, a travel-sized version for each person will get you through at least a week of vacation. I also recommend storing these within a Ziploc bag (especially if you’re flying to your destination!) because no matter how small the amount, there’s nothing more disappointing than unzipping your suitcase to find some sort of liquid explosion all over your clean and neatly packed clothes.
3. Pack a spray bottle of vinegar. Grab yourself a travel-sized spray bottle and fill it with vinegar before you leave so it’s available to throw in your beach bag for the potential sting, whether it be a bee, wasp, or jellyfish sting. This will save you from buying an entire bottle of vinegar while traveling and it will already be available when needed last minute!
4. Medications with syringes and a thermometer. You never know when illness will strike and if your luck is anything like ours, it’s usually not at an opportune time. Thermometers can be expensive and the last thing you want to do when your child is sick out of town, is to be unprepared with no way to check for a fever and no medication to give. We personally always bring Advil, Tylenol, Benadryl and a stomach medicine. Also don’t forget to bring the syringes with the liquid medications! And of course, you’d want to bring enough of your and your child’s daily medications (if anyone takes daily medications) to last the duration of your vacation, plus a couple extra doses in case of travel delays or other unexpected mishaps.
5. Beach toys. This can be handled one of two ways. You can bring higher quality reusable toys to keep for future needs or another great option if you’re tight on space and/or flying is to head to the nearest Target Dollar Spot or other dollar store to purchase toys that you can leave behind at the end of the trip. We drive to most of our beach trips so we pack reusable toys. A big favorite in our family is a tea set (shown above and similar here). We have had our tea set for four years now and find that boys and girls of all age ranges are drawn to it everywhere we take it, including the neighborhood pool, splash pads, and the beach. Another big hit at the beach this year was the sand cookie making set (shown below and similar here), again, a great toy for boys and girls! Beach balls, velcro glove and ball game, footballs, and other ball games are also fun options!
6. Diving toys. If you have children of swimming ages and will be near a pool while at the beach, diving toys are a must for endless hours of fun! Don’t forget the goggles for diving too!
7. Nets. Small nets for catching little minnows during the day and big nets for catching crabs at night are a must! Just the game of chase will provide hours of entertainment!
A few extras for those traveling with a little more space…
Boogie boards/tubes/floats add an opportunity for more fun, especially for the older children!
Inflatable or plastic pools are great for the younger child who isn’t fond of the sand or prefers to eat the sand. This also helps keep them contained a little longer to avoid a crawler getting away right before your eyes!
Chairs are handy to have for comfort and to help mark your spot on the beach!
Umbrellas are a must for those with younger children or children sensitive to the sun in order to make it through a week at the beach under the blazing sun day after day.
Towels are often provided at beach accommodations, but it is always nice to have larger beach towels for the space and to help mark your spot as everyone runs around.