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Beach Bag Packing

Okay, so you know the basics to put in your beach bag, but let's review, anyway.

Outer Banks Beach Bag PackingSunscreen. Sunscreen. Sunscreen. Experts say for best results you should put this on about 30 minutes before getting in the sun. Generally, if you apply this before leaving your house to head to the beach, you should be okay. Don’t forget to reapply if you stay in the sun for an extended time. To help with applying sunscreen on children who are fussy, you might try using lotions or creams that come in colors. You can then come up with some kind of creative story to accompany the application so your little one is more likely to stand still or even help you. (if he helps, be sure to wash his hands so this won’t end up in little eyes). As a last resort for little ones (and teens!), I have been seen hurrying along behind them using a spray applicator and the premise that even hit and miss coverage is better than no coverage (the teens may die of embarrassment while on vacation, but skin cancer won’t claim them on my watch). For all ages, don’t forget the following tender and easy-to-forget, areas: skin showing from new hair cut or new bathing suit lines, noses, ears, tops of feet. And, for goodness sakes, don’t forget to apply lotion on overcast days – those sun rays are working on you even though the sky appears cloudy!

Shoes. I know, it’s not cool to wear shoes to the beach, and you need to show how tough you are by walking barefoot. However, pavement and sand that is comfortable or merely hot early in the day, can become blistering hot (literally!) later in the day. Better to appear weird and wear flip-flops or water shoes (or at least have them in your beach bag), than to have to spend the rest of your vacation in bandages or on the couch.

Beach Towels. Another obvious item. However, remember that you will want some of these that are not wet and sandy when it’s time to wrap a towel around you for walking home, or to spread as protection on the car seat if you drove to the beach. Take a few more towels than you think you will need (especially if you have a teen similar to my daughter who thinks she needs a new towel each time one becomes slightly damp or gets a bit of sand on it.) Of course, during your time at the beach remember to dry towels by spreading them on your beach chairs, coolers, umbrellas, etc.

Sunglasses. Be sure your shades are UV treated to protect your eyes from both the UVA and UVB harmful rays of the sun. Both adults and children should wear glasses that have an indicated protection rate of 99 to 100%. Since glasses now come in all kinds of shapes and colors, let your personality show through your selection. [A brimmed hat can also help protect your eyes from overhead or side sunlight.]

Water. Water. Water. It’s important that everyone in your group remain hydrated. For those who don’t like water, try taking along some individual flavor packets that can be added to bottled water. If you take your dog with you to a dog-approved beach, be sure to have enough water for him, too, and a container into which you can pour his fresh water. Finally, pack a couple of extra bottles of water to have on hand for just-in-case first-aid or emergency hand washing. [Cooler Tip: If you are planning to be on the beach for some time, consider freezing some bottles of water: frozen they keep your cooler items cool; thawed they become cold drinking water.]

Snacks. Non-perishable snacks can easily go in your beach bag. So arguments don’t arise about sand in the bag of chips or box of crackers, consider making individual snack packs. Color-coded, lidded containers can make this easy for you and cut down on little-people arguments. [I also use this in the car.] Fill containers with assortments such as small crackers, dried fruits, mini marshmallows, etc.

Phone. If you take your phone to the beach, please also pack with you the idea it is to be used for only emergencies. Enjoy the sounds of the beach! Don’t disturb the natural sounds you have paid for and traveled here to hear with sounds of ring tones and conversations you easily can have back at your house!

Now, for the not so obvious things that you need to pack in your beach bag.

Food Tenderizer. Yep. This is an easy-to-carry first-aid remedy in case of a jelly-fish sting. Just sprinkle the unseasoned mix onto the skin that has been stung (be sure you have first removed, with a stick or shell – not your hands! – any particles of jellyfish or tentacles). This is a quick way to alleviate the sting. Of course, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Baby Powder. This works so well at getting stubborn sand off of little (and not so little) hands. After washing and drying, sprinkle some sand onto those, almost always, still sandy hands; have your child rub the powder vigorously between hands. Voila! Now little hands are ready for that snack (unless you are an overkill mom such as I – then you are ready for the next step below).

Anti-bacterial Wipes. ‘Nuf said

Tissues/Napkins/Paper Towels. These oft overlooked beach bag items can come in very handy. Sometimes, those emerging from their ocean swim don’t even realize their noses are dripping more than water! Additionally, usually when dampened with some of that extra water you brought along, these can be used for small first-aid situations.

Zip Lock Baggies. A beach-bag wonder invention. These can help you sort and store small items so they don’t become lost within the cavern of your bag or tossed onto the sand when a larger item is pulled from your bag. I usually have one bag for first-aid items, one for personal items, etc. A few extras are great for storing treasure finds to carry home. (These also serve as convenient pooper scoopers if you have your doggie friend with you at the beach.)

Net Fruit Bags. This is great to give little ones for collecting shells. Once filled with treasures, the bag can be dipped into the water to wash away sand, then hung or draped to drip dry.

Trash Bags. PLEASE dispose of all your trash and garbage! The easiest thing you can do while at the beach is tie a trash bag to something stationary (so it doesn’t blow away) such as a chair, cooler handle, umbrella stand, etc. Have everyone in your group dispose of ANY/ALL trash immediately. This way, when it is time to go back to the house, your clean-up is made easier: you simply remove the trash bag, tie it closed, and deposit it in the trash can back at your house.

And, of course, don’t forget to pack plenty of fun and enthusiasm. Enjoy your time at the beach!

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