Jun 3, 2014

What's in Your Beach Bag?

This year's beach trip was the first trip in the last five years that I didn't have a "baby" along for the ride. On the way home from Destin Kevin and I talked about how much easier it was to travel with kids that don't require strict nap or feeding schedules. And although we're still working through potty training with Liam, he is (for the most part) trained for daytime. So we didn't have to worry about swim diapers or baby food or the grouchiness that comes as a result of a missed nap. It was quite freeing, to be honest. I realize that next year will be quite different as we welcome a new baby into our family, but it was nice to get a glimpse of how things might look for our family in a few years.

This year we vacationed with a 5 and 3-year old. As I packed our beach bag each day I realized how "no-brainer" the packing had become. And not only did it not require much thought, but there were also no critical items that I had to plan for (i.e. formula, diapers, etc.). However, our hotel was far enough away that I had no intention of walking back and forth for forgotten items, so I wanted to be as prepared as possible.

Enter the simplified "Beach Bag Packing List"...

Anyone who knows me knows I have an affinity for list-making. I err on the side of being over-prepared as opposed to under-prepared, and making lists always sets my mind at ease.

So here's a little running commentary of our simplified beach bag packing list this year, including things I learned along the way...

  •  Beach Towels: I brought one for each of us every day, but we never used all four. I think I could have saved a little room and gotten away with just packing two. We mainly used the towels for wiping eyes and as a barrier from the sand. At the end of the day we all wiped off some before walking back to the hotel, but that didn't require four towels.
  • Sun Screen: I prefer a spray on sun screen that can be applied to wet or dry skin. It makes application easy even with squirmy kids. 
  • Sunglasses: The glare on the beach is often blinding, so this is a must-have for me. The kids each have a pair to, but we didn't bother bringing them to the beach because they would most likely have wound up somewhere out in the gulf.     

  •  Beach Umbrella:We never rent the beach chairs out on the beach, so a few years ago I invested in a small beach umbrella to stick in the sand. It was pretty cheap, actually. Last year it was a lifesaver when the boys were ready to get out of the sun but not quite ready to leave the beach. And wouldn't you know it... I forgot to take it with us this year!! Thankfully, another prepared family member brought hers, and it was nice to have. That prepared family member also brought beach chairs, which I don't usually bring along (I just sit on a towel), but the chairs were nice to have.

  • Zip Top Bag for Electronics: The only electronics that I brought with me to the beach were my phone and camera. I wanted to keep them as safe and dry as possible, so having a bag to protect them from wet clothes or spilled water was helpful.
  • Snacks: I learned a lot about beach snacks this year, which will guide my snack choices in the future. One day I threw a variety of snacks into my bag, including chocolate-y granola bars. Bad idea. Chocolate + Sun = one big melted mess. So I've since determined to make sure any snacks that accompany us to the beach are in no danger of melting. In fact, the best snack day was when I brought one big bag of corn chips with us. All the kids liked them, they traveled well, and there were no choices to make (i.e. no digging around).
  • Water Bottles: My sister-in-law taught me a little trick this year as far as drinks go. She brought a couple of big bottles of frozen Gatorade with us to the beach one day. This was a brilliant idea for several reasons. Not only did the drinks stay cold, but they defrosted slowly, which meant they lasted longer. There was also less danger of spilling. Score! Don't get me wrong, I'm all about staying as hydrated as possible, but I'm also all about practicality. Frozen drinks, y'all!
  • Life Jackets: This is a MUST with young kids. We use Stearns Puddle Jumpers, which have proven very trustworthy over the years. They are extremely durable and comfortable enough that the boys don't complain about wearing them.
  •  Goggles: Because Liam absolutely cannot survive the beach or pool without having goggles glued to his forehead. I didn't have to worry about losing the goggles because there was no way Liam was taking them off.
  • Buckets & Shovels: Because you can't go to the beach without building a sandcastle! I had a pail and shovel for each child, plus a couple of other small containers to add a little more creativity to the building efforts. Liam spent most of his time on the beach playing with his bucket, which made tagging them along well worth the effort. 

So, I absolutely NEED to know...

What's in your beach bag?? Are there any tricks or tips that you have for beach vacationing with kids (and babies)? Help us all out by sharing your best tips!!


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