If you are going to pack the family up for a day at the beach at some point this summer, do not underestimate the importance of planning and preparation to optimize the experience for your entire family. A few essentials and you will be ready to go for a morning, afternoon, or even a whole day!
1. Know that you are going to get sand everywhere! Bring bags, towels and blankets that you don’t mind getting sandy. Do not worry too much about getting sand in the car, because there is always a car wash with vacuums available when you get home or somewhere in the town you are visiting.
2. Go in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the sun’s midday heat that comes along with sunburns and heat exhaustion. Another benefit is that most people hit the beach around lunchtime, so you will avoid the crowds, have more beach to yourself, and likely be around a more family friendly crowd if you go at these off peak times.
3. Always wear sunscreen. Even when it’s overcast, the sun will still burn! Do not forget to reapply at least as often as noted on the bottle. The sun reflects off the sand and water, guaranteeing that you will burn if you do not protect yourself.
4. Don’t mess with jellyfish. It is not worth getting stung! It is wise to avoid unfamiliar wildlife.
5. Bring your own shade. You can never have too much shade, so pack umbrellas, hats, sun glasses, and swim suit cover-ups. Assume everyone may want to be under shade at the same time, especially during meal or snack time.
6. Rinse off before you get into the car if a shower is available at the beach. When you get home take a real shower and hand wash your swim suit. Even if you plan to go to the beach again the next day, wash your suit and hang it to dry. Putting on a sandy or damp suit is not fun!
7. You can never have enough water and snacks. Pack a wide variety of finger foods, such as sandwiches, chips, cookies, whole fresh fruits, dried fruits, and mixed nuts. Beaches are usually windy, so foods that require plates or utensils will be complicated to eat. Pack a cooler full of drinks as well. Any water, soda, or juice sold at the beach will cost more than will if you bring it with you.
8. Wear the right shoes. Tennis shoes are great for sight seeing, but sandals are essential for the hot sands of the beach! When your sandals are not on your feet, put them under a towel or blanket so that they do not get hot and burn your feet the next time you put them on.
9. Don’t go out beyond where you can stand comfortably in the water. The currents can be unpredictable and you can be in danger before you realize it. No need to fear, just use wisdom and always use the buddy system!
10. Pack entertainment such as a frisbee, a volleyball, and sand toys. You are never too old to make a sand castle !
Elizabeth Myers lives in Miami and likes to cook. She enjoys trying new recipes including pecan nuts. Elizabeth has three kids and takes them to play at the beach often.