Work and Life | July 19, 2013

My Beach Family Vacation Checklist

beach essentials

Whether it is for a business presentation or going on a family vacation, being organized makes your life easier and so much enjoyable. Over the years, I compiled a checklist of beach essentials filled with stuff that brings us comfort, protects from the sun and will not overload our car trunk. Whenever it is possible, I select double-duty items. I organized my checklist by purpose.

Keep Out of the Sun

I adore our Sport-Brella umbrella. It is ideal to change our baby on the beach. I opted for fairly basic beach chairs because they save space. I used the back pocket to keep the trash bag out of reach for my little boy. The low back means that adults comfortable sit under the sun umbrella, if we want a shady spot.

Sun hats are nice to have for adults and essential for children. I always bring a sun dress or shirt for added protection.

Divide and Conquer

I find that putting similar items together keep out the sand. I put the beach towels in one bag. The toys in one bag. And all the rest is a third bag. My husband wish for a backpack with many compartments that was big enough to carry everything in one case. I’m still looking for an option. Until then, I still believe that it is best to split your beach gear in multiple bags.

My Suncream Tips

How much do you need to pack? Factoring that you must reapply it every 2 hours or after swimming and that you easily apply suncream 3 to 5 times every day. I calculate 100 ml per 3-4 days at the beach, per person. It may sound a lot but, based on my experience, this is the price to pay to avoid sunburns.

Another trick is to apply suncream before putting your my bathing suit. Doing it while naked means that every spot is covered. Be patient; the cream must penetrate your skin. Since suncream is the most effective when apply on colder skin, I apply my first coat in my bedroom.

Which brand to buy is up to you? I go for the best. As a rule of thumb, more expansive brands — meaning the brands sold at the nice beauty counters at department stores and some drugstores — protect better because their active ingredients are more stable. They provide you with the SPF level written on the tube for 2 hours. With the mass market brands, the UVA and UVB protection starts to lower after 20 minutes and continues to fall. You also need a cream that can withstand the heat. Beware of this fact and apply generously if you use a general brand.

I started to buy Clarins sun products many years ago. Like many high end brands, Clarins suncreams offer an excellent protection under all conditions. Why it stands out is that you get a beautiful tan from day one. Even my husband is convinced of it. We were commenting yesterday about the nice, little glow of our son. I bought him their Sun Milk for Children.

For Keeping the Sand Out of Stuff

Picnic mats work the best at the beach. A foldable outdoor blanket, like the Skip Hop Central Park Blanket, is awesome because the sand don’t stick to the nylon fabric. We bring a low portable picnic to put down books, sun creams, cups and for eating for lunch time.

Picnic Baskets

I also bring many picnic containers, a pack of wipes, a few Ziploc bags, a cooler, many ice packs and a small garbage bag. Don’t forget to bring plastic cups ; I did this year. Metal utensils are more pleasant and they won’t break. I put my water bottles in the freezer the night before. They serve as extra ice packs until we drink them.

Lastly, a few toys and sandcastle building accessories put a smile on everyone faces. Start to make your own list today. I update mine every year based on our destination and our plans.

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