Cole and I love the beach, as in, count down the days until our next trip, planning and hoping, kind of love. Every trip we make, we kind of change up our plans for what to do and what not to do for the next time.
1) Sunscreen!! Cole and I both spend a lot of time outdoors, and even though Arkansas is hot and sunny 10 months out of the year, nothing compares to beach sunny. I use SPF 50 and 70, and he still gets quite a bit of sun. Make sure to get the sport type, since you will be in and out of the water. If you are planning to stay for several days, you don’t want to be miserably sunburned. I find myself wanting to put sunscreen on strangers at the beach, who might be there for the first time, and are two hours in and already burned. For some reason dads and men in general hate to apply sunscreen. I saw lots of sadly sunburned dads last week. If you are a single dad traveling alone with your child, ask a Mom nearby to help you (like that crazy blonde lady seated near you who does not want you to get sunburned). Cole will help me with my sunscreen too.
2) Food = the best part of traveling. We (everyone else in the family minus Cole, who prefers his old standbys, Chick-fil-A and Subway) love to find fabulous local places to eat on the way and at the beach. We have discovered that if you eat earlier, you miss the crowd and the wait, and you have time for ice cream and that sunset walk on the beach later. Most places are also completely ok with you bringing your child’s Subway sandwich into the restaurant too. We eat breakfast and lunch in the condo, and sometimes cook dinner if we feel like it, which saves lots of money in the long run.
3) Beach etiquette, this is a big one. A) I realize that Kenny Chesney or Nikki Minaj might be your jam. But the people sitting near you may not share your same passion. Chances are they drove 500-600 miles just to get there and smell that air, and hear the waves crashing. Get yourself some ear buds and you can have your own private concert. B) Most condos offer private beach areas, and also chairs available for rental (this is a bone to pick for me. Once you rent the condo, the last thing you want to do is rent some chairs, but I digress), so please don’t go to the beach first thing in the morning and spread out all of your personal chairs and space, basically “saving a seat” for yourself for when you come back down five hours later. That is super rude behavior. C) Bring an extra bag to gather up your trash. Do not leave your trash out, so that it can pollute the ocean later on. Cleaning up your beach trash is the same concept as cleaning up after yourself at the movie theater (you can tell a lot about someone by seeing what they leave behind in both places).
4) Beach necessities. Sunscreen, towels, chairs, hats, plenty of water to drink, snacks, an umbrella for when you need a sun break, a large towel or sheet for your kids to eat their snacks on, goggles and snorkel, sand toys, floats for yellow flag days (I have a favorite one I buy every year from Walmart for $7.88, so when it tears up I am not too broken-hearted), a waterproof camera, we like our GoPro, which is water proof and makes fantastic videos and pictures, a good book (if your kids sit down at all and let you read, since it’s usually just me and Cole, I save the reading for my morning coffee time), flip-flops, and empty trash bag for your trash and disposable wipes. We bought a beach wagon last year that folds up, and it has also proven to be a great investment.
5) Take your time and enjoy your family and friends (or whoever you brought with you to the beach). I am guilty of overplanning and wanting to get every little activity in on our trip, but our happiest memories are just being together, swimming in the ocean and the pool, and laughing…laughing is always our favorite.
Cole wanted me to add that you should use the beach showers to wash off your sand, your floaties and your chairs. Those are always a highlight of his beach days 👦🏼.