In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s the perfect time of year for a beach trip. Since I (Katie) live in Utah, I rarely get to the beach and I treasure every moment I get to spend there. Fortunately, I’ve been able to travel to some beautiful beaches throughout my life in places such as Hawaii, California, Oregon, and even Greece when I was in college. I would love to go back to any one of those beaches at any time!
My biggest tip for beach visits is packing sunscreen. My husband and kids all have very fair skin and burn easily. Especially my husband (freckled red-head that has gone gray/brown in later years). We always joke about how he can get sunburned just looking out the window for a minute. That means going to the beach isn’t big on his list. I love it though and wish I could live by a beach. I rarely burn and actually tan quite easily (except when I spend the summer sitting in front of my computer – lol!) My Father-in-law also has that same fair complexion so he wears long sleeves to the beach and brings a big umbrella with him to create his own shade.
Something else I’ve learned about visiting the beach is to protect my camera. I’ve ruined a point-and-shoot camera before just by having it in my beach bag. Sand got inside of it and it never recovered. I’m considering purchasing a waterproof camera before I hit the sandy shores next time. If you bring an expensive camera with you, consider purchasing some protective gear and/or wrap your camera bag in a protective bag as well.
Since I’m just a rookie when it comes to beach visits, I asked a few of our “beach-bum” team members to help out with some great tips for all of us.
From Melissa S.:
Well my DH & I have grown up by the beaches in Perth, West Australia. He practically lived there! After 5 years in Kalgoorlie (400 km from the nearest beach) he is so missing it! We are moving back soon – Emily hasn’t even visited the beach yet! Phill however swims every time we are in Perth or Esperance.
OK, well onto tips… one big thing – SUNSCREEN, as blonde/fair skinned/sensitive skin/easily burnt people we have to use toddler milk sunscreen. I found other sunscreens would always end up stinging my eyes (yes somehow I’d always end up getting in my eye from my hands I guess and spending the whole time with a stinging eye!). The spray packs are useful as it is quick and easy to apply but not so good for wriggly babies.
In Perth & Kalgoorlie we are fairly close to the ozone layer hole, so even 4mins in the sun and you will start to damage your skin and within 15min you will be sunburnt. Even on Wednesday in the middle of winter (it starts June 1 in Australia) I put on a hat and sunscreen to go for a walk!
Protect yourself in five ways from skin cancer: Slip! Slop! Slap! Seek! Slide!
- Slip on sun protective clothing that covers as much of your body as possible.
- Slop on SPF 30+ broad spectrum sunscreen liberally to dry skin, at least 20 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply every two hours when outdoors.
- Slap on a broad brimmed hat that shades your face, neck and ears.
- Seek shade
- Slide on sunglasses. Even on your babies! These are awesome sunnies and very affordable. My little girl has been wearing them since the age of 5 months and though she pulls them off sometimes, if it is actually sunny, she will keep them on quite well. Also their hats are cute!
So now I’ve got the sun protect rant off my chest – enjoy your summer kiddos!
My favorite vacations are those that include a beach!! Since we have such varying ages of kids, it works great for our family, something for everyone! My husband is (thankfully) great at finding travel deals to allow my beach addiction. Because of my husbands health issues, we aren’t permitted to travel to 3rd world countries, so Mexico and other very affordable places are out for us.
Here are my tips:
- Forget the sunblock – well not totally. We have found it works better to wear sunshirts on the beach. When we go to the beach, we spend most of the time in the water boogie boarding. We learned quickly that sunblock was not the best option for sun protection on our shoulders and arms. You can get them in the summer at any department store like Target or Wal-Mart. In tropical locations, you can get them year round. Then slather sunblock everywhere else. Always take sunblock with you from home, it is insanely expensive in beach locations.
- Grass mats – in Hawaii in every drug store or department store, they sell grass mats. They are super cheap (under $3) and are great for keeping sand off towels. The water also slides right through, so they don’t stay wet. My youngest does not like sand at all, so we put a couple of these down and she stays right on them and never leaves. We take turns sitting on the beach with her, so they are great to sit on and wrap up in your towel.
- Boogie Boards – we love to boogie board! We usually check into renting boards at different places, but usually end up buying them , because you can buy them cheaper than renting. When we check out of our hotel to go home, we find a family checking in and give the boogie boards to them. We do this with larger pool toys too.
- Other toys – check into renting them, sand castle toys can sometimes be less expensive to rent. Try using an offsite rental place instead of your hotel, they will usually deliver and pick up for no extra cost and are much less expensive.
- Bring a lunch and snacks. There are a lot of sandwich places that will pack a lunch for you and some even pack it in a cooler. There were many days that we would hit the beach after breakfast and not leave until after sunset…riding the waves all day long! You can also buy styrofoam coolers for pretty cheap.
- Bring plenty to drink and then bring some more!
- Don’t be afraid to play in the water in the rain. On one of our trips to Hawaii, it rained almost the entire time. We headed to the beach anyway (leaving the youngest of the bunch with Grandma and Pappy) and spent the day boogie boarding. The lifeguards said it was safe, so in we went! We had the whole beach to ourselves! It was still 80 degrees outside and we were going to get wet anyway. That day is one of our favorite memories!!
- Buy a book – I really believe in using guidebooks for any kind of vacation, even staycations! So grab a guidebook that will tell you what beaches are good.
Now for another kind of beach…we lived on an island in the Puget Sound for a few years and though we had beaches all around us, it was a very different kind of beach experience!
- Most beaches in the Puget Sound area are rocky. Bring boots…I’m not kidding! Boots that can get muddy and that are good for walking on rocks.
- There are record low-tides usually during June and many communities have ‘beach walks’ with guides that will point out all of the wild life on the beach and teach the kids how to respect it.
- During said low-tides, it gets smelly (I have grown to love the smell, but many hate it)…think seaweed.
- During the record low-tides shell fish can get red-tide, so don’t go clamming and don’t eat the clams if you see signs posted.
- Enjoy the beautiful views!! One of the things we loved (and miss) most about where we lived was driving across the bridge to our island and seeing Mt. Rainier on our left and the Cascade Mountains on our right. On a clear day, you could see forever! So beautiful to see the evergreens heading right into the water. Second in beauty only to the “sea-to-sky” drive in British Columbia (Vancouver to Whistler drive).
If you are lucky enough to visit a beach, we hope these tips will help you enjoy your trip even more!