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What you pack for a week at the beach?

worrywartworrywart Posts: 1,783Registered User Senior Member
edited July 2009 in Parent Cafe
We've rented a beach house for the first time in our married lives and want to strike the right balance between being prepared (in terms of paper goods, bed linens, breakfast and lunch staples, boogie boards, sunblock, etc.) and overpacking. Do any of you have this down to a science?
Post edited by worrywart on
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Replies to: What you pack for a week at the beach?

  • lizardlizard Posts: 3,041Registered User Senior Member
    Bring a cooler/ice chest WITH WHEELS. They get heavy lugging from the car to beach. Ice is your friend at the beach!
  • NewHope33NewHope33 Posts: 6,208Registered User Senior Member
    Our family has rented a house at the beach for the past twenty years. Ask two different people and you'll get markedly different answers. Food and drinks you can buy. Meds and comfortable pillows and beach apparel ... probably not. I ask "What would make you comfortable if you were marooned on this beach for a week." DW packs, um, considerably more ... most of which just sits in the closet until it gets packed up at the end of the week. YMMV. Enjoy the beach!
  • geek_momgeek_mom Posts: 2,106Registered User Senior Member
    Here are a few things from our list.
    Water socks or dive booties (better than sandals for crossing hot sand!).
    Hats, or you can pick them up as souvenirs at the destination.
    Straw beach mats are nice, but you can probably pick them up for a few bucks at your destination, making them disposable. They're better than beach towels between you and the sand.
    A cheap digital camera (point&shoot kind) with a waterproof housing and a large memory card is nice to have along. Just be sure to rinse all the salt and sand off in fresh water before opening the housing. Goes without saying, avoid opening the housing while on the beach.
    You can almost never have too much water.
    As to food, we like fruit for breakfast on beach trips -- canned for the first few days, then fresh purchased locally. We take a few cups of ramen noodles for a quick fix. Similarly, for lunch we might bring a loaf of bread and some canned goods (e.g., baked beans, broth) and buy sandwich meats and fixings there. Places we've rented have had reasonably well-equipped and well-appointed kitchens. There's probably a microwave and a range (though you might want to check). The pots and pans will be all scratched up, but serviceable for a week. Food will usually cost more there, so we like to take non-perishable stuff along and buy the fresh stuff locally.
    Clothes -- swim stuff of course, and shorts/shirts that dry quickly, plus a change that can go into town for a casual dinner. Something loose with long sleeves is invaluable if one of you gets a sunburn. And beach venues can get chilly at night, so a sweatshirt isn't a bad idea.
    The beach first-aid kit: Aloe vera gel, waterproof and flexible bandaids, hydrogen peroxide, swim-ear or equivalent, and Neosporin. If you get a coral scrape or a fish bite (happens once in a blue moon, but happens), treat it aggressively with the peroxide and Neosporin. There's a kind of "blister bandaid" that works really well on blisters and scrapes -- saved my heel last time.
    Always take a deck of cards and a pack of dice for simple evening fun on the lanai. And novels for reading on the beach.

    Hope this helps to get you thinking. As NewHope said, everyone has a different list.
  • ebeeeeeebeeeee Posts: 5,199Registered User Senior Member
    That's a pretty good list. Don't forget shampoo/conditioner/hair dryer. I sometimes forget them since hotels always provide them.
  • AnudduhMomAnudduhMom Posts: 783Registered User Junior Member
    Well, if you're coming to the Northeast, you'll need a winter coat, hot water bottle, mittens and waterproof boots! And lots of games to play indoors.

    I'm just kidding, sorta. We've had a lot of rain. It's depressing, I live .5 mi. from a perfect New England beach and have only been out there once this year.

    First of all, are you driving or flying? How many people? Houseguests or family? Children or grown-ups? Pets? And in which geographical location is the house?

    Top of my list would be --

    Bug repellent and citronella candles
    One or more of those Coleman lanterns and plenty of batteries
    At least one working cell phone (you may not have internet and there may not be a phone)

    There's a grocery store/Rite Aid/Walmart in every town in America, don't drive yourself crazy trying to figure it all out before you go. Get to the house and make a list, then just go to the store for whatever you need while you're there. Simpler is better!
  • ucsd_ucla_daducsd_ucla_dad Posts: 8,573Registered User Senior Member
    It depends somewhat on the beach and activities. At some eastern, Florida, and gulf beaches there's not really very good surfing/boogie boarding (as opposed to around here). At some beaches there's not really good snorkeling.

    Regardless of going to the beach I personally wouldn't take or want a big ice chest full of drinks and food since a water bottle and a quick run to the closest quick take-out Mexican place (lots of them around here) for lunch is adequate but I might be in the minority on this.

    If you do spend the entire day on the beach such that you take a big ice chest etc., be extra careful about the amount of sun you get.

    Be careful of too much sun anyway or the rest of your trip might not be so pleasant. I've seen some obvious tourists around here who go out and overdo it the first day and have to sit someplace all covered up not feeling that great for most of the rest of the week.

    - Sunscreen
    - Beach umbrella
    - Beach blanket - sometimes we just use an old sheet - it's a smaller bundle, lightweight, and dries quickly.
    - Frisbee
    - Boogie Board - if the beach has decent waves
    - Surfboard - ditto
    - Cribbage board/cards - for playing on the beach
    - Binoculars - if you want to scan for whales, dolphins, etc.
    - Towels (beach and beach house)
    - Flip-flops (my standard daily wear when not at work)
    - Hat, shorts

    For the beach house itself you can probably just do a couple of grocery runs while you're there depending on how much you end up cooking vs. eating out. Cooking along with dish cleaning doesn't seem to be compatible with my W's idea of a vacation.
  • geezermomgeezermom Posts: 1,354Registered User Senior Member
    Re groceries, cooking, and meals: We buy groceries when we get there (groceries are slightly cheaper at our beach location than at home anyway). We've learned to make a really thorough list in the car on the way down, with everyone having a chance to weigh in on what they want for snacks, lunch, etc. We've got it down to a science, and we rarely go to the grocery store more than once. We do make special trips to the fish market and fresh vegetable stand (which are closer than the supermarket). Our beach house mantra is to keep it very simple--lots of salad, fruit, fish, etc. We could eat the same cereal for breakfast (unlike at home, where we have too big a selection), the same turkey sandwiches for lunch, and a protein plus fresh corn and tomatoes every night and be happy. We also go out to eat two or three times during the week (there are just three of us)--a couple of inexpensive places and one nice one.

    Check with your realtor to find out whether your house comes equipped with beach chairs and an umbrella. If not, you might want to rent those items instead of hauling them in the car. Most realtors also provide a list of things to bring for the week. Some houses now provide bed linens, but you might want your own pillows.

    Have fun!
  • abasketabasket Posts: 9,386Registered User Senior Member
    Here's something I always have to bring for my DH - he is a popsicle addict - especially when it's hot! I always buy a pack of those ice pops - the kind that you buy as liquid and then put in the freezer to get to frozen state. Bought a pack at Costco that was actually 100% juice, no sugar added. A must when we are at the beach.
  • PackMomPackMom Posts: 7,488Registered User Senior Member
    We take one of those "beach carts", the kind that looks like a mesh bag laundry hamper w/ a metal frame, two wheels and a handle. All the stuff we need for a day at the beach can be stuffed in there. We hang our fold up beach chairs over the handle.

    We live/beach in the southeast. It is HOT. We would never go without our umbrella.
    It makes staying on the beach for hours much more pleasant and helps protect you from the sun.

    Good books are a beach essential. Some rental houses have lots of them. Some have none. We are leaving for the beach on Monday. My job tomorrow is to drop by our local Goodwill and hunt for beach books. They are .99 so if they get wet, ruined, left behind, it's no big deal.

    We load down our coolers with stuff fr. home that is usuable but would be spoiled by tie we get back. We take condiments,deli meats, cheese, even milk if it fits.

    Take more than one swimsuit if you have it. Nothing ickier than trying to shimmy back into a still damp one.

    When in doubt go overboard w/ sunscreen. It is usually cheaper to buy at home than in a resort area.

    Depending on where you go, take a jacket/sweatshirt for chilly nights.
  • dntw8updntw8up Posts: 1,594Registered User Senior Member
    I live in the Caribbean and several of the things mentioned are things I take to the beach (sunscreen, hat, water.) What I haven't seen mentioned is sunscreen for your lips i.e. lip balm with SPF. Lips can become sunburned, and excessive exposure to the sun's rays has been linked to lip cancer. I always have Blistex in my pocket!
  • AnudduhMomAnudduhMom Posts: 783Registered User Junior Member
    ^ ^

    Oh, poor you! I guess someone has to live in the Caribbean! (just kidding) How cool. Wanna trade?

    It's 57 degrees and raining for 3 weeks here in the Northeast U.S.
  • VeryHappyVeryHappy Posts: 11,705Registered User Senior Member
    When we go up to Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island, we bring as much food as we can -- cereal, bread, cookies, condiments, fruit, veggies, pasta, and even some frozen meat in a cooler. This is because it is extraordinarily expensive to shop at the two grocery stores on the Island. I'm sure it's partly due to extra transportation costs, but I also suspect it's because they know you are captive.
  • BookladyBooklady Posts: 3,122Registered User Senior Member
    geezermom, your post could have been written by me (except for the cheaper groceries part). We're leaving for Cape Cod next week, and one of the things we do on the very long drive is make that grocery list. Because it's usually more expensive on vacation, I second the idea of bringing staple foods that you can get much cheaper at home: cereal, coffee, peanut butter, etc. And your own pillows: we've been renting houses on the Cape for over 15 years, and very few have had really good pillows, which I consider essential for a restful vacation.

    Towels: bath towels, hand towels, washcloths, and beach towels. Also, does the house have a washer and dryer? That can make all the difference in how many clothes you have to take.

    As has also been mentioned, don't forget the kinds of things that are usually in hotels: soap, shampoo, etc. You can buy little travel-size bars of Dove soap, which are great. And books. Lots and lots of books. I don't actually go to the beach, since I don't like the sun. I just lie around in the shade and read for two weeks. :)
  • colmomto2colmomto2 Posts: 670Registered User Member
    You shouldn't need any bed linens unless you've rented some sort of cabin at the beach. (And maybe not even then. Grayton Beach State Park - a Florida State Park - has cabins on the beach that come with refrigerator, oven, microwave, dishwasher, towels, bed linens, beach umbrella, etc.) Anyway, the house should also have beach towels for you to use at the beach. (Please don't use the bedsheets or blankets at the beach. We had a condo at the beach that my folks rented when we weren't using it, and it was a real pain to go there in the winter and discover that the renters had used the bed blankets as beach blankets. Ugh!) You can call the real estate agent/manager to get info on what is provided by the owners.

    As far as groceries, buy after you get there. You'll know if you need to get plastic containers (for leftovers), tp, paper towels, dish soap, etc. (You never know what the previous renters left for you!) We always make a big pot of spaghetti sauce on the first day which provides dinner and lunch(es) during the first part of the week.

    Use lots of sunscreen FREQUENTLY so you can enjoy the beach on more than one occasion. Don't forget, you will be living at the beach, so there is no need to go out in the heat of the day. Go out in the morning and late afternoon - you'll be less likely to burn and the crowds will be gone. Take some sort of cover up, even for Florida beaches. The temperature can feel cool sitting out at the beach at night (especially if you get a burn.) Don't forget some sort of first aid kit which should have sun burn relief and a pain reliever.

    HAVE FUN!!!!
  • VeryHappyVeryHappy Posts: 11,705Registered User Senior Member
    I'm jealous!!
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