Congratulations, you are heading to the beach – the place where happiness happens! Now, granted being a mom of two littles has changed the way we go to the beach, but with a little planning and some strategic packing – it will be a GREAT time!
First – if you are going on a day trip somewhere, make sure you leave early enough to have a good 4 hours on the sand. For toddlers this is time line is pushing it, but if you are driving 1-2 hours somewhere it’s enough time to make it worth your while.
Second – pack as lightly as you can. I know this may seem like a joke, but I promise if you take a bunch of stuff it’s more to haul to and from the beach and it’s fine when you are going TO the beach, but after 3-4 hours of sun and fun, the trip back to the car is a nightmare.
- SMALL cooler (collabsible -preferably). My pick is this one here– it’s got long enough straps to tote by itself, but it will fit into a larger tote or basket with no problems. Make sure you pack it with ice packs!
- A variety of snacks, bottled water, and a “treat drink” like CapriSun.
- A fold up blanket like this one! It flakes away the sand with no problem and is a great place to plop down when you are changing diapers or want to help build a sand castle.
- SUNBLOCK- SUNBLOCK- SUNBLOCK. Honestly, there are a ton of options so I won’t bore you with recommendations, but the higher the SPF the better. We use 50 SPF on all of us because the sun on the sand is NO joke. Do not use less than 30 SPF. I promise you will still get color!
- A bucket and shovel combo – like this one. (If you have two kids, bring two of the exact same color and kind).
- Lifevests, floaties, and other water safeguards for children who do not swim yet. I recommend not blowing them up until you are on the sand to save room! Save the inflatable rafts and such for the pool at home.
- A beach wagon – this is an investment, but if you go to the beach more than 2 times a summer, you will not regret it! Especially if you are toting around smaller kiddos whose feet are going to be super hot and tired and sandy at the end of the trip.
- For the adults – a beach chair backpack! This is for you grown ups who want to actually sit down and enjoy the view.
- Lastly – a beach umbrella with a built-in anchor. You never quite know how windy it is going to be on the beach and with an anchor, it will save you the trouble of worrying if your umbrella is going to be whisked away! It is necessary to have an umbrella these days with the tiny people in your family. There are lots of canopies and pop-up tents on the market these days, but a lot of beaches are not permitting them due to view-blocking. But a beach umbrella is always allowed!
There are a ton of other options to bring, but this is the basic list that will ensure that everyone is hydrated, sun-protected, entertained, and has a place to cool off! Also, if you are going to the beach for several days and have a place to go back to that is within walking distance you can pack even less.
My last recommendation? ENJOY yourself! Try to take a few moments to breathe in the salty air and really dig your toes into the sand. It’s easy to get distracted by a book or scrolling through a news feed on our phones, but the beach is really best when you are present and allow the landscape to calm your mind and your soul. Going for a walk as a family is also a great way to change-up the scenery and create a time for education! Shell collecting, star fish and sand dollars, crabs, and other beach-creatures are fantastic things to discuss while walking along the shore.
What is your favorite thing to do while at the beach?
I wish I had known about the beach wagon before making my first solo trip with the toddler last summer. Forget mermaid – I wanted to be an octopus that day!