Packing for Summer Adventures

 
We have already been to the beach twice this year, unheard of for our family. We are totally beach people, but our trips generally fall later in summer. Rarely ever before July. Fortunately we picked the hottest summer ever for a few early trips. We are that family driving down the road that you know is bound for a good time, our roof rack is full, there are beach bags pressed up against the back window, boogie boards in sight, and stuff piled on our laps ready for excited times ahead. Can you picture us?

If you aren't sure yet, I am an over packer. Don't let the picture above fool you! We bring the wagon, the scooters, the bikes, the beach toys, coloring books, cars and trucks, board games, tennis rackets and golf clubs. When we actually get to the going to the beach part, I again over pack. I haul down to the beach looking like I am ready to stay for a week. But I am slowly learning a few tricks that make our beach adventures easier. Here are my six non-negotiable items, with a seventh snuck in for fun.

1. // The perfect beach blanket (and this one looks awesome too!). I've been looking for a few years. Its thicker than a sheet, like a quilt without batting and it isn't hideous or overly florally. It is lighter and bigger that the sweatshirt blanket we have used in years past.

2. // Two towels. I have learned that with a good blanket, you need fewer towels. Rarely are both ever in use. Less towels means less to lug back and forth each day. At this point (with kids ages 2 & 4) if they are getting wet, I am not sitting in my chair anyway. I figure once they are old enough to carry their own towel across their shoulders, this number can increase.

3. // One bucket of toys (with a ball tucked inside the bucket). I've tried lots of toys and fewer toys and toys in bags, and so on. But I have realized that one bucket, which my boys can take turns carrying, is the perfect amount. And nothing else for them to play with. I have brought books and games, but really the only thing they do is dig in the sand, chase waves, or play catch.

4. // The ergo (I wish ours had this cool whale pattern). Sometimes to get the perfect beach nap, we still need the ergo for Hudson. I know this tool is fading, but it has joined us on every beach trip since Behr was born and I can't imagine not having this security blanket. The beach nap is the ultimate for any parent. The only way to actually rest on the beach is if your kids nap too!

5. // Rash guard. My boys have worn UPF rash guards since they started going to the beach or pool. But this year Mark and I have also added rash guards to our beach attire. Also, never before have I realized how much sun my boys get, even when I am being diligent with sunscreen (my favorite here). My boys love to be in the water, in the sun. And they don't have the same instinct as adults do to get under the shade of the umbrella. This summer we stocked up on rash guard from Land's End. I was shocked by how much I liked their quality last year and I almost forgot about it this year. Fortunately, their stuff is incredible affordable and well made. This is not a sponsored post, I just really, really love their rash guard (and bathing suits too).

6. // Cooler. We have a soft-side collapsible cooler, but nothing beats the old school igloo playmate cooler my parents have. Too bad we don't have room for anything else in our car... And while we are talking about coolers, what are some of your favorite beach snacks? I love tuna sandwiches, potato chips, peanut butter crackers, and apples at the beach. How about you? What do you pack in your cooler for the beach?

We are still figuring out the perfect beach umbrella, and frankly don't have room in our city apartment for beach chairs, so we always borrow them from our parents on our way. Here is a similar beach gear post I wrote in 2013 -- we did finally get the Sport-brella and are testing it out. The only down side so far, its huge, even when collapsed, so it hardly fits in our car!

 
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