Going to the beach is a blissful, relaxing, wonderful thing…until you have children. Then, it becomes a whole lot of work! It can be less stressful, though, if you prepare well!
Here are my favorite kid ridden beach trip travel tips:
1. Pack baby powder
Travel section at Target has a tiny bottle for like a dollar. You can sprinkle it on to dust off sand easily when it’s time to pack up and go home. It helps stuck on sand slip off and stay off!
If you really want to get fancy, there’s this Sand Off mitt (which is a terry cloth mitt filled with, you guessed it, baby powder) that makes things a little easier and cleaner. I used ours several times to remove sand off my 10 month old’s face when he kept trying to snack on sand (gross).
Also, you can’t go wrong with packing some extra clothes for the kids. You know as soon as you get them dusted off and changed, they’ll go right back to the water or sit down in the sand when you’re not looking…
I will always think of Baz Luhrman when I think “Remember to Wear Sunscreen”, but it’s true. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll end up being the sunscreen police for not just your kids, but your husband (who is often an even bigger baby about putting it on than your infant) and any other relatives and friends with you who feel they are somehow immune from the sun’s burning rays. Pack more than you think you’ll use– because you probably will use more than you think. I really like the Babyganics Sunscreen that I was given to try by the vendor at MommyCon Chicago this year. We ended up using it on the entire family all week long, and we were definitely protected from the hot Alabama sun! I also enjoyed the convenience of the Neutrogena Beach Defense Stick for my husband and I when quickly reapplying throughout the day. (Don’t forget to reapply! That’s the tricky part.)
3. Bring your own pool
I know, the ocean/lake is right there, but do you really want to have to haul your baby in and out of the surf? Plus, kiddos who are too little for life jackets/ puddle jumpers might be too scared of the ocean to play in the waves.
We bought a clearanced out baby pool with high sides for $10 (like this one) and brought it with us to the beach. We set it up partially under the shade of the umbrella, and it doubled both as water entertainment for our babies and containment from eating sand or crawling off to the ocean like a little sea turtle, like mine kept trying to do. We blew it up before we walked down to the beach, using a little hand held air pump (kudos to you if you have a battery operated one) and simply filled it up with a few inches of seawater using sand buckets. Toss in a few diving rings or things baby is okay to chew on, and you’re good to go!
4.Bring a LOT of snacks/drinks
This tip comes from a lesson learned this past week. There is nothing that seems to make kids more hungry than being in and around water under the hot hot sun. Kids need to drink a LOT in the sunshine (just like adults 😎🍹😜 ) and get hungry easily from all the playing (plus, it’s something to hand them so that they don’t eat sand…). I found that for a full day at the beach with a 4 year old and a 10 month old, we needed to bring more than what we brought with us. I had a small cooler, and that didn’t suffice. I’d suggest something like this backpack cooler (which my sister in law used all week because she’s clearly smarter than me) to fill with drinks and snacks.
The key to bringing snacks to the beach for kids is to choose things that do not require touching the food a lot (quick snacks!) because sand is crunchy and not nutritious, despite what your baby might think. Here’s what we brought with us:
- Refillable water bottles with ice & water (or frozen waterbottles that thawed throughout the day and acted doubly as ice packs)
- cans of our favorite pop
- juice boxes/pouches for the kids (the pouches don’t get soggy like the boxes can, and you can still recycle pouches using Terracycle)
- mandarin orange cups
- granola bars/breakfast bars
- peanut butter cracker sandwhiches
- applesauce/fruit squeeze pouches
- Pringles (plus the can makes a nice trash can when you’re done)
5. Bring your own shade
Yes. Yes you need some kind of shade, especially with little kids. If you’re going to spend all day at the beach, and there are quite a few of you, you’re going to need shade. I was so thankful my sister in law brought her big tent canopy for everyone to share. If it’s just your little family, a few beach umbrellas will also work out just fine (we got ours at Sams Club on sale), and I loved our little pop-up baby canopy tent for Everett to nap in that I bought from IKEA (similar to this one, but ours held down by filling the bags on the side with sand (handy!)). Everett napped in it a few times that we were there.
I was also glad I picked up some beach chairs for us (or bring your collapsible camping chairs, whatev!) because there is no possible way to keep sand off of your towel when kids are around.
Obviously, you need to remember coverage is better for baby/kiddos too- so don’t skimp on the rash guards and sunhats- this includes the grown-ups too!
I found most of my kids’ swim suits and rash guards at a secondhand store in awesome condition for super cheap (because swim suits don’t get worn as often as normal clothes and often only fit for one season) but I also LOVED this rash guard I splurged on for Everett because it has a deep zipper down the front, making it super easy to take off when it was wet!
6. Prepare for wind & water
There’s wind at the beach most of the time. Prepare for that by making sure your kid’s sunhats have a way to be secured (like a chin strap) and that you’ve weighed down any pop-up tents you’ve brought with you. I hauled a laundry basket to the beach each day that contained our towels, and that worked out well to secure the baby tent too.
Also, I highly suggest bringing a bag to use for trash that won’t blow away (remember, leave only footprints!) and can be zipped up for easy haul out, such as a reusable wetbag like this one. The wetbags are also great for storing wet suits, the shells you collect, etc.
We also brought these dry bag cases to protect our phones from water and sand too. They worked really well. We did not test the underwater function, though, but apparently you can use them to keep your phone safe underwater as well to take photos/video.
7. Don’t bring the beach home, just the toys.
I’m sure you’ve seen the Pinterest suggestions to grab a net laundry bag or a cheap pop up laundry bag from the dollar store to pack beach toys in. Let me save you some time and trouble. I tried both last year, and the net bag ripped on the first use, and the cheap pop up laundry hamper rusted on day two. SO this year I got smarter. I found a collapsible net bag to use for our beach toys, and it worked beautifully. Simply shake out sand and allow things to air dry when you pack up.
8. Prepare for fun!
If you’re staying beachside for a few days near an ocean, try your hand at ghost crabbing at night.
Simply bring some nets, a bucket, and a flashlight (or use your phone flashlight). Hunt them down, scoop them up, and keep them captive in your bucket until you’re ready to head home for the night, then let them go! My son and nephews all had a blast doing this. I’m so glad we prepared for it by bringing nets! Oh, and wear shoes! Those stinkers hurt if you step on them! The nets are also great for scooping up shells from the surf to sift through and find treasures.
We also enjoyed having this little waterproof bluetooth speaker to play music while we were at the beach. My boys had bought it for my husband for Father’s Day, and he really enjoyed using it beachside!
Also, if you’re going to end your day beach walking, I recommend having a baby carrier on hand for your littlest ones. I love my Lillébaby because it has optional head support and a sunshade for if they fall asleep (like ours did each night), and the one I linked to is the Airflow-so it’s made of a sturdy mesh and is more breathable than the one I have.
We had a lot of fun at Gulf Shores, Alabama (where the sand squeaks when you walk on it!) last week, and we can’t wait to go back again someday. Maybe when the kids are older and can carry their own stuff to the beach, right?
Enjoy your travels!