It’s that time of year again. Summer is just around the corner, so what could be better than packing up the family into the car and heading for a relaxing, family-fun day out at the beach?
While there’s not much that’s more relaxing than soaking up the sun at the beach, this relaxation can fast turn to stress if you fail to prepare and pack for the day ahead correctly. The last thing you want during your outing is to have to deal with the wrath of an unruly toddler, acting out in public, disturbing your peace, and that of everyone else around you.
But don’t despair – avoiding this isn’t difficult; it just requires a little planning – which is the purpose of our article, to help make packing for a day out at the beach with young children a hassle-free, fun-day for the whole family.
9 packing essentials for a family day at the beach
If you’re visiting the beach with younger children, there are plenty of essential items that you simply can’t do without.
This is the purpose of this article – giving you a go-to list that rounds-up the absolute must-have items to pack ahead of your next trip down to the beach.
So, without further ado – here are our nine beach trip packing essentials for a friction-free family day out at the beach.
1. Waterproof dry bag to put and carry everything in
As anyone who has ever been to the beach or pool knows – a waterproof dry bag is an essential bit of kit – helping to keep your clothes dry while you swim and the contents of your bag dry on your journey back home.
While a waterproof dry bag is unlikely to replace your regular dinosaur backpack – it is going to help keep your clothes and contents of your bag much drier than without one.
These bags are incredibly lightweight and fold down to a small pack size, making them easy to store; simply throw it in your pack with the rest of your stuff. They’re also pretty affordable, and as an item, will get plenty of use – so well-worth the investment.
2. Sunblock, sun hat, and sunglasses
Before you even think about what else you might take with you on your outing to the beach, make sure to pack plenty of sun protection – sunblock, a sun hat, and a pair of child’s sunglasses are all essential beach items. When it comes to sunblock, the American Academy of Pediatric’s guidelines suggests choosing a product with a minimum SPF rating of SPF 15 to sufficiently protect from potentially harmful UVA and UVB rays.
It’s important to remember that you’ll need to reapply sunblock every 20-30 minutes throughout the day to provide adequate protection from overexposure to the sun and any burns. If your little one is constantly in and out of the water, you’ll want to stick to the lower end of this range, as the water can wash it away, meaning you’ll likely need to reapply more often.
As well as a good, high-factor sunblock – you’ll also want to consider a sun hat and sunglasses, offering your child maximum protection from the sun, as they enjoy a day frolicking at the beach. With hats, your best bet is one with velcro ties or a built-in chin strap to prevent it from getting lost. For sunglasses, there are plenty of great polarized, scratch-resistant, and flexible options for young children – durable enough to stand up to the usual rough and tumble of toddler play.
3. More protection from the sun, with a beach umbrella or pop-up tent
Following on from our last essential, this one is all about offering your family as much protection from the sun as possible when enjoying a day at the beach. So, what are we talking about? Packing a beach umbrella or a pop-up tent, giving you someone to get away from the sun, so you don’t have to sit directly under it all day long.
Whether or not you bring these items with you will ultimately depend on how long you intend to stay and the beach, the time of day you’re going, and if there is any natural shade available at the particular beach that you’re going to. In short – if you’ll be at the beach all day, and there’s little to no shade available, don’t leave home without a beach umbrella or tent.
While existing products you have at home can offer some protection – such as a dinosaur pop-up tent in a kid’s bed or playroom – you’ll want to shop for those specifically built to provide UV ray protection. This will ensure that you give your family as much protection from the sun as possible.
4. Hooded beach towel, preferably a quick-drying one
Even if you’re not planning to go for a dip in the ocean, you should always take a towel with you whenever you head down to the beach. Plans change, and although you and your family might not have planned to get wet, you could very well change your minds, and having a dinosaur beach towel on hand in such circumstances will prove to be incredibly valuable. And it doesn’t just have to be if you decide to go for a swim either – a large beach towel makes for the perfect, lightweight seating option.
You might also want to opt for a towel made from microfiber, as these are designed to be quick-drying – which can be great if you’re short of packing space, as they won’t require the use of an additional waterproof dry page to store in your backpack. They’re also pretty thin, being surprisingly small and compact when packed away in their carry bag.
Another great option is to use a hooded dinosaur towel. These don’t only look great, but they’re easy to take on and take off, as you simply wear them as you would any other piece of clothing, which makes them convenient to carry and difficult to misplace. They’re also helpful when it comes to preventing trips or falls, as unlike traditional towels tied around the waist, hooded towels can’t slip off when running.
5. Picnic or throw blanket to sit on
Any trip to the beach will likely see you and your family relaxing, sat on the sand for hours at a time – this makes it important to bring something comfortable to sit on, like a blanket.
While a picnic blanket can be nice – you don’t need to go out and purchase one, especially for trips to the beach, as the usual dinosaur throw blankets you’ve got around the house will be more than sufficient for the task.
If you like to carry light and don’t have space for a blanket – you can always use a beach towel, which does as good a job as a blanket at keeping you comfortably seated on the beach for hours at a time.
6. Swimsuit, rash guard, water shoes, floaties, and swim diapers
What would a day at the beach be without a bit of a swim? This means that it should go without saying that you’ll need to make sure you pack all the gear your little one will need to enjoy a splash about in the water for any day at the beach.
This could include a swimsuit, a set of floaties, goggles, and a wide range of other accessories, like dinosaur pool floats, depending on how confident a swimmer your child is. You might want to consider things like rash guards and swim shoes for added protection, as these products offer much great protection from the elements than a traditional swimsuit or pair of trunks would.
And if your little one isn’t yet potty trained, you’re going to want to pack plenty of swim diapers. Unlike regular diapers, which are designed to absorb fluids, swim diapers are instead designed to withstand and keep them out. This prevents them from swelling up and becoming waterlogged as regular diapers do when they come into contact with water. In short, regular diapers won’t cut it – so remember to pack a few swim diapers.
7. Beach toys, perfect for playing in the sand
Just like swimming – what would a day at the beach be without playing in the sand, using a range of different sculpting tools to build shapes and castles? While sand play is great for kids of all ages, it’s especially good for young children, who aren’t yet strong enough swimmers to enjoy a dip in the ocean.
While a bucket and shovel set is a great start, there’s no need to stop there – as there are plenty of other great options for sand play, including plenty of things you already have around the house. Things like dinosaur molds, dino play-doh tools, or even dinosaur cookie cutters can all double up as pretty good sand crafting tools, perfect for your next trip to the beach.
If you’re short on packing space in your beach bag, look for collapsible buckets, which will be far more compact than a regular bucket. You might also want to invest in a simple mesh bag that can be tied to the outside of your back, giving you an easy way to store them without taking up space in your pack’s main compartment.
8. Plenty of snacks, drinks, and water
While a family day out at the beach is good fun, it can also be exhausting, with your little ones using up plenty of energy as they run around, play, and swim – so be sure to bring plenty of food and snacks to keep them recharged throughout the day. And even if you’re heading to the beach after eating or plan to have a meal while you’re there – always bring plenty of ready-to-eat, healthy snacks to keep them going.
You’ll also want to bring your little one’s favorite dinosaur water bottle or sippy cup, offering them plenty of water on hand to keep them adequately hydrated throughout the day. This provides an environmentally friendly alternative to disposable water bottles and money savings if there is a public water fountain available to refill your bottle.
Also, be sure to remind your children to drink frequently throughout the day, as it can be easy for them to forget, with all the fun they’ll be having. This will help to ensure that they’re properly hydrated throughout the day. It doesn’t need to be complicated either – remember to get them to drink each and every time you reapply sunblock.
9. And lastly, our favorite beach-hack: baby powder
Last up on our list is a little-known secret tip that can help make it easy to remove all that sticky sand that you can’t seem to get rid of once you’re all packed up and ready to make your way home. And that tip – whether you believe it or not – is baby powder.
Yes – you read correctly. A simple bottle of baby powder can work wonders when it comes to getting rid of sand, with a quick sprinkle of the stuff separating it from your skin and putting it back on the beach where it belongs.
You won’t need to use a lot either, so pop a travel-sized bottle in your beach bag before you go – you’ll be grateful that you did, as you watch all the other, not-so-wise beachgoers struggle with sticky sand all around you.
Well, there you have it, our picks of the essential, must-have items to pack for a family trip to the beach.
Going to the beach is fun for all the family – whether playing in the sand, taking a dip in the ocean, or simply relaxing and recouping in the summer sun.
While it’s a fun activity, it can quickly go south if you fail to prepare – turning a pleasant, relaxed day out into a nightmare.
That said, properly preparing for the beach isn’t difficult – and as you’ve now seen from our list of picks – it really won’t require much effort to do.
Simply get organized, plan ahead – and above all else – make sure to have fun and enjoy yourself!