9 Must Haves for Your Beach Vacation

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The world is full of amazing beaches! And while I would love to take my kids globe-trotting to experience them all, some summers (or most summers) will require we stay State Side and pick one that we can easily get to! If you’re like most families, you’re probably looking for a quick trip you can easily drive to, yet still enjoy the beauty the ocean has to offer. If you are driving, there are several items you can pick up ahead of time to ensure you’re ready to go the second you arrive and will save you money over buying from a gift shop or on the beach!

Sun Protection

WOW! Those are white legs!

I don’t know what’s more blinding, the sun or Matt’s and my legs! We have both dampened many a good vacation (our honeymoon included) with horrible sunburns. All the reapplying of SPF 50 in the world doesn’t prevent the inevitable from happening. I finally came to the realization a few years ago that a tan was just never going to happen and the focus needed to switch to preventing skin cancer.

Now we don’t travel to the beach without a lot of sun gear! In the picture, our bodies are mostly shaded. That’s because we were sitting under a pop-up tent! Bonnye picked this thing up on Amazon before our trip, and now we own one as well! If we’re driving to a beach, you can bet it’s coming with us. It is really quick and easy to set up, and doesn’t weigh much so getting it to and from the beach is a breeze!

Where did Landry’s body go?

Rash guards are another must in our family! Most kids swimsuits now have a matching rash guard hanging conveniently next to the suit because they’ve taken off so much in the last few years.  Finding them for grownups was a bit harder, but I was on a mission. My chest FRIES…like 2nd-degree burns fries and I’ve had a few spots removed and biopsied because of the sun damage over the years.  I finally found a couple of great rash guards for Matt & myself on Amazon that we love! They have a ton of great options you just throw on and go, and believe it or not, they actually do keep you cool!

Of course, we pack sunscreen and hats as well!

Beach Toys

Sand toys are a must!

I remember as a kid my dad used to get so irritated with how expensive beach toys were to buy right on the beach. We flew everywhere so we couldn’t have packed any of it ahead of time, but when I started planning for our first beach vacation the memories immediately came back! I decided to pick up this stuff on Amazon and I was so glad that I did. For $10-15 you can get enough toys for several kids to make an entire sand kingdom. When we were in the gift shops, the pricing was double!

The beach tends to take care of your plans for you!

Boogie boards are another must in our family. The $5 and Below Store usually starts selling them around spring break time, so we picked them up as soon as we saw them! In Gulf Shores, I saw the exact same ones for anywhere from $10-$20. Yikes! When I was a kid I remember we’d always rent two boogie boards. One pink one for me, and one blue one for my brother. My dad LOVES the water and loves to boogie board, so inevitably he would steal my pink board to race my brother and I’d be left on the beach! I can’t blame him, I have been known to “borrow” one from the boys from time to time!

While you’re in the dollar store, pick up a few random items for in-room entertainment. I love silly, cheap treasures to keep the boys happy & busy when we’re getting ready to go out, or for when it starts to rain! I usually stock up on coloring books, bubbles, and silly putty but the winner is usually the giant Woopee Cushion!

Early morning shell hunting.

Nets are another must for beach play! The boys used these for everything from looking for shells to hunting for crabs at night, and we even used them to fish a few Jellyfish out of the water before the could sting anyone!

Beach Gear

You’re supposed to check out the chair but the kids may be too adorable!

Even when we rent chairs, we still bring a couple. Renting, in my mind, saves a decent spot for us on the beach each day, but I’m not about to spend $100 for two more chairs for the boys. Check with your resort to make sure you can have other chairs next to your rentals!

If you can, the bang for your buck is for sure in buying them.  Not only can you take them on multiple trips but they’re great at soccer games and in the backyard. I see families lugging huge coolers to and from their rooms all the time. This is all well and good if you don’t plan to go back up to your room, but when we’re staying right on the water I always wonder what those people are thinking! Less is more in the lugging department! We like to use this smaller cooler and refill it at lunch. The nice part is that the middle comes out so you can really shake out all of the sand!

You’re probably thinking, that’s all great Junell, but that all still sounds like a lot of lugging! On our first beach vacation, I kept seeing more experienced parents with these great beach wagons! Now, I’m not going to lie, in the super soft fluffy sand, mom and dad were each having to carry a side, but everything was still being done in one trip. They do roll very well once you get into the wetter sand, and then of course on the pathways down to the beach are perfect! When it’s super hot, and the kids are fussy, who wants to go back 3 or 4 times to grab more stuff and haul it back to your room?

Now, with all this great gear, I’d love to say you’ll be able to sit back, relax, and catch up on your reading, but the difference between going to the beach with your kids and going to the beach as a couple, is that with your kids, you’re on duty! I swear, my legs were sore from having to plant myself in the water a few feet out from everyone and catch the occasional kid that started to get swept away in a wave! If you do travel with a group, perhaps moms and dads can trade off in shifts so that you can have a little down time to yourself as well! If you do, I’d highly recommend downloading my favorite, Outlander, on your Kindle!

What do you think? Did I miss any beach must-haves? Let me know in the comments! Be sure to subscribe to the mailing list and we’ll send you more trip and family must-haves!

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