If a beach vacation with the entire family is in your future, here are five tips to help you get the most out of your time.
1) Skip the Hotel. Rent a House or a Condo
Renting a beach house or condo can save you lots of cash over staying in a hotel. One, you have a full kitchen at your disposal. Two, if you are driving to your destination, hit Costco or a discount store and stock up on dry goods, paper goods, canned/bottled beverages and sunscreen. If you have a large car, add a cooler full of meat, vegetables, and other perishables. Anything you are not buying from beach stores with pricey beach prices will save you.
On a rainy day in a house or condo, you’ll have the extra space to hang out and play board games, do puzzles, or just nap. Most condos offer the use of a gym and a pool which can be a nice break from all-sand-all-the-time. If you have a large group and opt for renting a house, many houses offer garages full of bicycles, sand toys, boogie boards, etc.
2) What Goes to the Beach Must Come Back
Skip the beach blanket and opt for a king-sized flat sheet. Seriously. It dries faster and weighs about a quarter of a similarly sized blanket. Get a cooler with wheels. Pack plastic bags for garbage, shell collections, and other random items on the way home. Kids, if they can walk, should help unload and load up the car. They can carry things like sand toys, garbage bags, wet towels, and smaller bags. Do not be a pack mule!
3) Sure Sunscreen is Great
Sunscreen on the beach is a must! An initial first coat with a good lotion sunscreen applied 30 minutes before you head to the beach is a great start. Once at the beach, move to kid spray-on sunscreen. It’s usually 30-50 SPF and will not drip into your eyes. For some folks, if you are further south than Minnesota that’s not enough. Get your kids rash guard t-shirts (Old Navy, Land’s End, Walmart). If they’re all very young, get them matching rash guards so you can pick them out easily in a crowd. You’ll still have to reapply sunscreen to their faces, feet and legs, but the rash guard protects the rest of their bodies. Cross one-half of a chore off of your list!
4) Meet the Lifeguard
If you are bringing young children to the beach or if you are bringing children of any age to the beach for the first time, make your first stop the lifeguard station. Ask the lifeguard (it’s okay, he probably only looks 12 and is really 16) to explain rip currents to your children. Find out if the beach you are visiting has any special rules as well. For example, in Florida, May through October is sea turtle season and certain sections of the beach are marked off-limits because of nests of sea turtle eggs.
5) Dinner at the Beach
Over the course of your beach vacation you might opt to spend a day shopping, visiting a local attraction, or just hanging out. Don’t miss out on the beach entirely. A few hours before sunset, pack up a picnic basket and head to the beach. Pack a bocce ball set, a frisbee, bubbles (running after bubbles in the sand w e a r s out kids!), a plain old football and enjoy the cooler temperatures and lack of crowds. Besides, leftovers always taste better at the beach!
No matter where you rest your flat-sheet “blanket” this summer, relax and enjoy your family beach vacation.
What are some of your favorite tips for enjoying a beach vacation?