My recent visit to the beach with a group of three adults and one toddler was a reminder of the amount of planning, packing, and lugging that often accompany beach day. In most cases it is hot, wet, salty and sandy, and the best way to remain comfortable is to bring all of the necessary supplies. In this case, I follow the motto I learned as a Girl Scout, “Always Be Prepared”. Good organizing ties into preparing for day outings because getting ready to leave the house becomes a much easier task when you know what you have and where to find it. What follows are some ideas for organizing your gear, edibles, and attire, for a nice day at the beach.
The first step towards preparing your items is to assess what you have and shop for the remaining necessities. Although you may be storing beach gear in different places of the home, consider setting one spot where everything can stay together so there is less likelihood of forgetting something. Common areas to store beach supplies are the laundry room, garage, porch, shed, or an extra closet.
Collect your chairs, umbrella or tent, cooler, and toys or equipment. Try to limit the amount of toys, rafts, boogie boards, noodles, and the like so there is not a huge mess to clean up later. Beach toys tend to fall all over the place and retain a good amount of sand. Avoid these issues by storing the items in a netted bag that can be rinsed and dried, such as a laundry bag from the dollar store. Once all of your items are together, pack the car with the heaviest things on the bottom and make sure that the driver can still see out of the back window.
Next, choose a beach bag with several pockets and dividers or containerize items with Ziploc bags to distinguish each category of supplies from the other. Maybe one bag can hold your phone, ID and money; another can have generic first aid supplies, and another can protect your IPod or reading materials, and so on. Sunblock is the most important supply. Sunscreen generally expires after three years so remember to check the dates before applying. Consider adding the first coat at home to avoid the sweat and sand. Plan to reapply at least every two hours and set an alarm on your phone in case you forget. Have at least one towel for each member of the party and maybe a larger sheet or picnic blanket to sit on. You will also want your diaper bag for the little ones with swimming diapers and any floating or safety devices they require.
Food & Beverages:
Consider packing a cooler or insulated bag. Re-usable ice packs are great too. Shopping and preparing the edibles ahead of time is worth the investment so that thirst or hunger does not threaten to shorten the trip. Regardless of what you bring, Tupperware and Ziploc bags are the key to separating items and keeping them clean. If you pack a small lunch bag for each person they can just grab the bag and dig in when they get hungry. Some useful extras include coolies for the drinks, disposable plates, cups and silverware, and a bag for garbage.
Sort through your bathing suits at the start of the season to remove any items that are missing pieces, damaged or faded, out of style, or poorly fitting. T.D. Wood, an outdoors writer for The Seattle Times, suggests wearing a swim shirt, also known as a rash guard or surf shirt, with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPV) to help shield skin from ultraviolet rays that can lead to sunburn, accelerated aging of the skin, and skin cancer. Your sandals should be comfortable and waterproof. Finish off the outfit with a hat and a pair of sunglasses. Pack an extra bag of dry clothing to leave in the car for later. Blogger Dan Sever also suggests leaving a jug of water in the car so that you can clean off one last time before you leave. Once beach day is over leave the supplies in the car for next time or return everything to their storage spot at home.
Tatiana Knight is a Professional Organizer and the Founder of Neat with Knight based in South Florida. Visit www.neatwithknight.com for more information.