The beach is my happy place. If I could, I would live in a beach house. I have rented beach houses in the past, and my family had to pull me from the front deck when it was time to leave.
Last summer, my extended family rented a beach house in TopSail, North Carolina. There were 28 of us in a four story house. It was chaotic and loud and amazing all at the same time. Over the course of the week, I was reminded of items I was so grateful someone remembered to bring and some items we ran out to the store last minute to purchase. Here are some suggestions for items to bring if you’re planning on a trip to the beach.
1. Shoes for use inside the house: Chances are, if you’re at the beach, there is going to be sand everywhere.- probably just as much (okay, almost as much) sand inside the house as out on the beach. Even if you sweep every day (or hourly), you’ll never avoid sand. Some feet tend to get blistery when rubbing sand on wood or tile floors. I had a pair of slip on shoes I only wore with clean feet inside the house. That way, at the end of the night, I was slipping clean feet into bed, and not all the sand from the beach.
2. Your own reusable cup: We ran BOTH dishwashers in our house at least once a day- usually twice. Our family quickly realized that the children (and maybe a few adults) were grabbing a new cup every time they wanted something to drink, and by lunch, there were dozens of cups decorating every surface of the house. Save time (and the environment) and bring a special travel cup (with a top- remember, sand gets EVERYWHERE!) for each member of your family. Each family member is in charge of washing his or her cup and they can ONLY use that one cup. It’ll cut down on unnecessary waste, clutter, and confusion. (Back up plan: if you forget to BYO cups, buy ONE package of Solo cups and have each member write their name on the cup with a Sharpie. Same rules for reuse and cleaning apply.)
3. Rope and clips for hanging wet clothes: The washing machine and dryer gets even more abuse use than the dishwasher on our beach trips. Both machines seem to be going every moment of the day. Again, not the best for the electrical bill and the environment. I wish we had brought rope and Command hooks (which don’t leave permanent marks on walls). This would have made things easier to dry, especially towels. Like the cups, towels seem to “decorate” (I use that term loosely) every surface of the house. By hanging up lines, children can be responsible for air drying their own towels and bathing suits.
4. Something to read (book, magazine, electronic books): Many adults look forward to reading on the beach and remember to bring a book, but make sure every member of the house remembers something to read. Electronic readers are a good option if you’re short on space, but be careful near water and sand, which can do permanent damage. Grab an inexpensive paperback collection of crossword puzzles, word searches, MadLibs, or Sudoko puzzles to share with everyone.
5. Sharpie markers to write and label things. The lost and found of our family’s beach house rivaled an elementary school’s by the end of the week with so many things that all the children claimed did not belong to them. You don’t necessarily have to label stuff before you pack for a trip, but having some sharpies handy would help label things in the moment.
6. A chalkboard or dry erase board and markers: Perfect for making “House Announcements” or keeping a running grocery store list. I find when you’re in a large group and people go off in their own directions, messages or dates get lost. If you’re driving and can throw a chalkboard or dry erase board in the car, it will be a great help in keeping everyone in the loop. Alternatively, if you can’t travel with one, most grocery stores have poster board available for purchase. You can tack a poster board up in the kitchen and stick post it notes or tape paper to the poster for easy updating of messages. Sharpies are also great for making posters and lists for everyone to see (Who’s cooking dinner tonight? What do we need from the grocery store? How much do we owe for the boat rental?)
7. Ziplock bags have a million uses. I have written about ziplock bags here and here, so regular readers of my blog already know my infinity for them. However, at the beach, I use them for collecting sea shells (North Carolina beaches have the best shells!), bringing snacks, and storing dirty or wet clothes. Recently, I have made it a goal to use less plastic, which includes ziplock bags. When I am home, I use reusable Tupperware containers for just about everything. I am proud to say that, so far in 2020, I have used less than 50 ziplock bags (one box, which is a big improvement for me. This mission can continue at a beach house, but sometimes it is safest and easier to use one.
8. Decks of cards and a portable ping pong set: These items take up very little room in suitcases and provide endless hours of fun. Bring a few sets of cards (and maybe a cribbage board!) and teach kids some card games like rummy and cribbage. A portable ping pong set can attach to just about any table and you’ll have a tournament started in no time. Some of our other group and kid friendly card games (that are stored in containers measuring only 4” x 4” x 4”) include Over Under, In a Pickle, PDQ, and Joe Name It, all from GameWright. We also love Connect Four, Smash Ball, and classic board games.
9. A first aid kit: I’m sure most people (okay, mothers) remember to bring some first aid items. A complete kit will come in handy in case anyone gets sick or hurt- aloe vera creams or gels help with sunburns (it goes without saying: bring tons of sunscreen!)
10. Other sun protection like sunglasses, hats, and rash guards. Both of our children have very fair skin, so they’ve been wearing rash guards since the first time they swam in pool or ocean water. Sun hats and sunglasses are important to help protect their eyes and faces from the rays.