The beach is one of my favorite places to go. Ever since I’ve been an infant, my extended family has taken an annual trip to the beach to relax, rejuvenate, and spend quality time with each other. I would spend endless hours playing in the water with my cousins, making up games at the beach house, and staying up way too late talking through the night. Beach week was something you looked forward to all year and started counting down to months in advance. This is a tradition that I am excited to share with my kids and hope that they too experience all the aspects of beach week that are memorable for me to this day. While beach week itself is about the people and shared experience, you can’t get through it without some serious gear.
Here is just a small sample of the gear that got us through beach week this year (and past beach weeks as well). While there is endless joy to be had with simply relaxing on the beach, digging in the sand, and swimming in the water, with 3 kids under 7, I need some serious reinforcements to keep the kids entertained and safe!
We’ve had this beach cart ever since becoming parents. Sure, as our kids get older, they will be expected to lug some of their own gear. But for now, it is crucial to be able to get as much gear down to the beach as painlessly as possible. And let’s not forget the trips back from the beach when all the kids are tired from being in the sun all day and want to be carried.
We purchased this Rio Beach Cart from Bed Bath and Beyond about 6 years ago. It is a beast, and is a life saver. I will say, it is not a perfect solution. The removeable front pouch is tearing, the latch to keep it closed broke, and only 2 of the wheels are large and traverse sand easily (it just means you can only pull and not push). That being said, this is a dependable and capable beach cart that we will likely continue using until our kids are older.
I explained how much we love the Bogg Bag in my review article. This is a great all around summer bag that fits a large majority of our stuff. For a family of five, it does start to bulge a bit with all the towels, lotion, and hats, but we do have enough space if we use a separate cooler bag for our water bottles, lunches, and snacks. I have seen some cool Instagram reels where people substitute full-sized beach towels with much lighter “Turkish Towels.” The minimalist in me is intrigued, but the cheapskate in me says we have 10 perfectly good towels that we can use. Perhaps a thought for the future.
Now that none of our kids nap, it’s even more of a reason to pack our food for the entire day. Sure, we could leave our stuff on the beach and walk back to the house, but then we lose precious beach time! On our recent trip, we were up at the beach by 9 each day and back around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. Tons of time in the sun and water means you need plenty of water, lunch options, and snacks. We ended up bringing 2 cooler bags with us, one for snacks and one for sandwiches and other cold items (string cheese, hummus). The RTIC lightweight backpack cooler does a pretty good job of keeping lunches cold until midday when loaded with 2 ice packs. I doubt it can compete with the likes of a Yeti backpack, but it is a fraction of the price and fairly low profile. For keeping food cold for a few hours, it gets the job done. The other cooler bag we used less as a cold storage bag and more as a snack transporter. We did buy this a few years back when we were on a trip and forgot a cooler bag and it performs similarly to other cooler bags. It’s not the world leader in keeping things cold (a very official and not made up award), but again, it gets the job done.
And of course we used our favorite folding camping table, the Ozark Trail Folding Camping Table. This thing comes in so handy for meals on the beach and it’s super easy to clean up. 100% would recommend.
All kids are different and enjoy various activities at the beach. Our kids are young and only one of them can swim semi-independently at this point. This can somewhat restrict activities because despite my best efforts to grow another limb, I only have 2 hands and 3 kids. We’ve accumulated a number of toys over the years and we like to keep things pretty straight forward. Of course Jason turned us on to the Surfer Dudes toy by gifting one to our daughter. Then we ended up buying two more. Jason reviewed this toy earlier and I gotta say, he nailed it. They are ridiculously fun and provide plenty of entertainment when the water is too rough or you just can’t help all of the kids at once. Other than the surfer dude, it’s all about traditional beach toys for us. Shovels, buckets, sandcastle molds are essential. We purchased a few sets off of Amazon a few years back including an Ice Cream set and a Sandcastle set. As our kids get older, I’m sure we’ll pick up other new toys including boogie boards and various beach games. But for now, this kept our kids entertained throughout the week.
My kids had a blast at our recent beach trip. When we ask them about some of their favorite memories, it wasn’t necessarily the stuff itself that brought them the most joy. It was the shared experiences with their siblings, parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, great aunts, and great uncles that made them look back on the trip fondly. We already can’t wait for next year, but I can guarantee many of the items described above will make sure it goes smoothly and as pain free as possible for us. Taking young kids anywhere can be both rewarding and challenging. Make sure you’re prepared and you’ll be able to soak up more of the good times and maybe do some relaxing of you own.
What’s your go-to piece of gear for vacation? Drop us a comment!