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How to Survive a Beach Trip with Kids

For those of you still soaking up every last minute of summer and going to the beach, here are some tips. Even though the pumpkins are already out in stores, I refuse to let summer be over!

“They say” going on vacation is relaxing. “They” must not be talking about vacationing with small children. Going to the beach now is not at all what it used to be. I would always bring along a book to read while soaking up the sun. Now, I am lucky if I have room in my arms to even carry a book to the beach. Reading a book, forget about it! Now, it’s chasing and entertaining toddlers, making sure they stay close, safe, and covered in sunscreen. I used to feel re-charged when we got home. Now, with three children in tow, I need a vacation after the vacation.

We recently had our first beach trip as a family of five. I tried so hard to pack in advance. Setting out underwear and bathing suits was as far as I had made it. We ended up with a scheduled GI doctor appointment for our new baby the day before we were supposed to leave. Yes, this was a bad decision, but it was all they had available.

At this appointment, we were told our infant would need to immediately switch to a new formula—the super expensive and super thin kind—a formula for severe food allergies and sensitivities. So, there we were… headed to the beach the following day with an infant on a brand-new formula.

The first time we tried it, she immediately began choking. It was too thin. Not only that, she was spitting it out because she hated the taste. At this point, I was full of anxiety knowing we needed to leave for the beach in the morning and were not the slightest bit ready. I called the doctor’s office in tears and pleaded, “How do I get her to take this formula? We are leaving for the beach tomorrow!” They told me how to mix it with her old formula while slowly transitioning over. Their plan worked, which was great news.

In the end, I must have told myself and my husband 100 different times, “We aren’t going!” Instead, we stayed up all night packing and left on two hours of sleep. Needless to say, I needed this vacation just to recover from the vacation prep.

It was stressful and we hadn’t even made it there yet.

Here are some tips which made the trip a little easier. Hopefully, they can help make your next trip a little more relaxing. Every little bit helps, right?

Timing

On our very first family beach trip with our daughter, we decided to leave late at night, hoping she would sleep in the car and be easily transferred to her crib upon arrival. Nope. She was wide awake the second we pulled in to the resort. We have now learned, for long trips, leaving before the sun comes up works best for our family. The kids are so groggy, they fall right back asleep in the car and by the time they wake up, we are well on our way. Consider your childrens’ sleep styles, and choose a departure time which makes sense.

Packing

Preparing for the beach is a huge undertaking. Gone are the days of quickly and easily packing last minute, and heading straight out the door. I found it helps to pack what you can in the car the night before so it is one less thing to worry about in the morning.

I have learned packing light saves both space and time. When packing, think layers. For example, for girls, think skirts or dresses with leggings, or short sleeve shirts with a light jacket. This way, you can avoid packing both a daily outfit for warm weather and an entire extra outfit in case it is cold. The light-weight jacket can be re-worn.

Think about which items will already be provided at your destination so you don’t waste time packing those things for no reason. Also consider which items you can quickly purchase upon arrival, for example, food for the room.

On a long road trip, it can be difficult to get all of the formula and feeding supplies together for an infant. Here is a photo of how I put everything together for the road.

Packing formula

I love this formula dispenser from Avent. It can hold up to three bottles worth of formula and can even convert to a snack cup for later. Just remove the insert. Check it out here.

Another helpful hint I have learned: Have a portable potty in the car for toddlers, along with some toilet paper just in case. You never know when they will have to go…right now! It will probably be when you are on a long road of nothingness.

Carrying Loads to the Beach

After you have already spent so much time packing, then you have to take all of your beach supplies to and from the beach… and, when you have kids, there is A LOT of stuff. My husband ends up muscling all of our gear to and from the room while I wrangle the kids. Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a service like UBER that would take your stuff to and from the beach by just using an app? It’s genius! You heard it here first.

As far as realistic suggestions… I love to save up and rent the umbrellas and chairs already on the beach. It saves me having to carry those large items with me. If that is not in the budget, I have heard wonderful things about beach carts. For quick and easy shade, I love this toddler beach tent which easily folds up flat in a small carry case. We used this both at the beach and by the pool.

Baby beach tent

We laid our infant here for most of the time we were outside. This would also be great for toddlers, as there is an area which can drop into a pre-dug hole in the sand which can be filled with water for a tiny, shaded pool. See this link for more photos.

More helpful products

Baby powder. You can rub this on hands and it completely removes the sand. Now, you and the kids can eat without sand in your picnic lunch!
Stroller fan. We love how this little fan can provide an extra breeze and keep our baby cool while in the heat.

Stroller Fan

Hooded towels. These are a lifesaver. You don’t have to keep re-wrapping the kids every-single-time they fall to the ground. Here is one we love.
Sunscreen. My favorite for my kids with sensitive skin is Babyganics.
Don’t forget the floatation devices. We love puddle jumpers. It is always good for the kids to wear these near the water as an extra line of defense. Check out our favorite type here.
An old, large sheet. We love to place a large sheet down so that we can put all of the bags, the towels, and cooler on top. This helps keep things a little less sandy.
Beach Toys. We like to carry beach toys in a mesh bag, so that the sand can fall out on the way up to the room. We like this one which you can carry easily over your arm.
Pack ‘n Play. This is a great place for crib-sleepers to sleep safely after a long day of fun. We love how easy these are to put up and take down. This is our favorite.

Even at the beach it’s a balance. You can have fun together as a family, but we also try to take turns with the kids. For instance, one parent can take the kids while the other rests or one adult takes the older kids while one handles the baby. This way, you can enjoy your family while still getting in some rest time.

Lastly, even in the craziness, try to enjoy the good moments. Sometimes I think seeing the beach through our kids’ eyes can be more rewarding than the relaxation we miss out on. What do you think?

Baby at the beach

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You may also enjoy: You Know You’re the Parent of a Toddler When…

To learn a little more about me check out: About Lauren

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4 responses to “How to Survive a Beach Trip with Kids”

  1. Maureen says:

    Great post! I especially love the links to the products!!

  2. Kevin Jones says:

    I expect your above advise not only helps survival from a beach trip with kids, but makes the trip more enjoyable for all. Thanks you for your useful post.

    • admin says:

      Hi Kevin! Absolutely! I think these ideas help make a family trip much easier on everyone. I am so happy you liked my ideas and find them useful!

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Welcome to my blog. I am a licensed school counselor turned stay-at-home mom and writer. I have three wonderful children. I love the water, baking, getting creative, and traveling, especially to new places. I have a bachelor’s degree in science (Psychology major and Sociology minor), and a master’s degree in counselor education (M.Ed.). I wouldn’t call myself a parenting expert exactly, but I believe all parents are experts at raising their own children. After all, no one knows your kids better than you! My blog is about what “they say”—what we hear and read—versus what “we say”: using our own intuition. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.