Taking the kids along is supposed to make any trip to the beach even more fun. But kids have special needs that, in all the excitement of planning and packing, get frequently overlooked. That’s especially true when you’re traveling with older teens, older adults or multiple generations. All those competing needs can let the littler tykes down.
So we came up with what we believe are the eleven most important things to remember whenever your planning a trip to the beach with kids – of any age or stripe. Bring these things along, and you’ll come back with happier kids, and a happier you too!
Don’t leave these behind. Review them before you ever leave your house, and if they need updated based on conditions at the beach make sure you review them with the kids. A good place to start is with rules about going in the water and exploring the beach itself. Touching base regularly and if they’ll be out of your site, then the rules are that much more important. Kids who can swim should no the rules – and especially as regards younger kids who cannot.
2) Sun Screen!
Get even the youngest kids used to applying generous sunscreen, and to understand why. Do your research too and understand that just as not all kids are the same, not all sunscreens are the same either.
3) Umbrella! Hats! Big Clothes!
All these methods of shielding yourself – and the kids – will count for a lot later on. That goes double for kids who don’t want a tan, and often don’t realize the sun is even burning them, until it’s too late. But pack a lot of shade into your sun-holiday even if you’re a tanner yourself. Your kids will be a lot more comfortable without the exposure and you’ll suffer a lot less too.
4) Pup Tent!
Along those same lines, it’s not only a total retreat from the glaring sun. A tent on – or just off – the beach is a cool retreat from too much activity for even the stoic young ones. You can pick one up, even if you’ve never dreamed of sleeping in the woods, and the kids and you will be glad for the shelter.
A cooler full of fruit, celery and carrots – plus lots of water saves a bundle off of whatever is being hawked up and down the beach. A crunchy head of cabbage makes a nice alternative to salty chips and keeps everyone well hydrated – and likely – a lot less fussy. There ought to be room – or money – for some stuff that’s a little more fun, but a beach can be a long, long day. So pack accordingly.
Well, speaking of hydrated, a bunch of water, and cups for the littlest kids can make all the difference. For a whole day at the beach, and depending on your numbers, a separate cooler just for water can be important.Note: It’s also a good idea to scout out any bathrooms and drinking fountains before you get too far onto any beach!
7) Plastic Bags!
Zip-Loc, trash bags and plenty of miscellaneous bags to keep everything wet isolated, and everything that’s supposed to be dry, dry. A change of little ones’ clothes right on the beach can save a trip to the car or to your house or hotel and save plenty of peace-of-mind, too. Kids are often a lot more conscious of keeping the beach clean too, so encouraging them with a thorough pick up and trash removal is also a good idea.
8) Pails and Shovels
You thought they were just for play, but get your tykes to excavate a little upon arrival. Dig down to the colder sand and stow the cooler there before covering it with white towels or something similar. By and large, buckets and pails are among the few recommended toys for younger kids though older kids may want a Frisbee, volleyball or something similar.
9) Flotation Devices vs. Swimming Lessons
Boogie boards and a beach ball are fine for older kids, but you don’t want to encourage kids who can’t swim to rely on them. Look closely into the recommended guidelines for PFDs and for teaching kids to swim too. It’s a far better idea to spend an hour on swimming lessons and teaching the basics, close to shore. Kids will thank you for a lifetime.
10) Baby Powder
Even when the youngest are out of diapers, baby powder is essential for removing sand from feet and frankly, it makes everyone’s hot, overworked feet feel a lot better too. Just sprinkle talcum powder onto sandy feet and rub gently.
11) Dresses and Bathrobes
Obviously boys and girls need one or the other, but either is a lot easier to put on – on the beach – than a wet pair of shorts or pants. Kids are dry, clean and comfortable and you end up with a lot less sand in the car or wherever you’re headed.
Of course, all of the above is easier, and probably comes more naturally on a longer stay at the beach than on a quick trip to the shore. Kids feel a lot less pressure to get everything done in a day, and guess what, grown ups feel better too!
Remember, a lot depends on the ages and dispositions of all your kids, so your best bet might be to discuss all of the above with all the kids your planning on taking to the beach. Listen to their ideas and you’ll likely learn something new.Featured images:This article was written by james t., a travel and real estate writer in Mexico City.