At the Beach — February 26, 2014 at 5:00 am

6 Tips for Packing Your Beach Bag

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There’s nothing quite like spending the day at the beach. Just you, the sand, and the surf.

And a beach chair. You’re not going to spend the whole day standing, after all. And a towel to dry off after a refreshing swim. You’ll need a little sunscreen to reapply after the swim—a hat wouldn’t hurt, and neither would an umbrella. You might want a ball to toss around, and a book to read when you get little downtime. And hey—aren’t you starting to feel hungry?

Yes, a comfortable and action-packed day at the beach requires a little gear. But don’t be that guy stumbling through the sand, dropping supplies left, right, and center. Packing your gear can be simple and easy: here’s how.

Cull, Cull, Cull
Remember: you’re going to the beach, not on a six week vacation. Pack only what you need. Are you really going to read three books today, or is one enough to keep you busy?

You’ll usually figure out the essentials after the first day on the beach: what you forgot to bring, and what you brought that you didn’t bother using. Take note, and repack accordingly for your second day on the sand.

Finally, is it easy to return to home base for forgotten items? If you’re biking thirty minutes to get to the beach, go ahead and bring that extra bottle of water. But if your car is 50 feet away in the parking lot, or if your cabin is just up the road, you can always make second trips for forgotten items.

Think Double Duty
In your beach bag, space is limited, so use it wisely. Can certain items multitask? For instance, freeze a water bottle overnight and use it as a cooler to keep your lunch fresh. Stick the water in the sun for a bit and it’ll melt enough to drink—as a bonus, it will be nice and cold. The same trick works for juice boxes, which will turn into a slushy treat.

Pick Smart Equipment
Beach chairs with backpack straps? Yes, please! Choose equipment that was smartly made, like beach umbrellas in cases with sturdy handles. Forget anything on wheels—you’ll just end up dragging it through the sand.

Everything In Its Place
Tossing everything in a huge tote seems quick and easy, but there’s a lot to be said for proper organization. For example, you do NOT want to lose your car keys in a bag full of junk. Look for bags with small, zippered pockets, to ensure important items are easy to find.

Protect Your Electronics
Sand and water make for a great vacation, but they don’t mix well with electronics. Store your phone and camera properly to avoid water damage and sandy interactions (the fine sand in Byron Bay, Australia, broke my camera three days into a six week trip!).  A plastic Ziploc bag will do in a pinch, just be sure to return electronics to the back after using them.

Share the Load
Adding kids to the equation means adding bulk to the beach bags—that’s to be expected, but you can have the kids carry their weight. Pack items in a backpack for them to carry, or have them help carry lighter items, like a Styrofoam boogie board. If you frame it right, they’ll feel like important contributors to the day.

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