A beach day always seems like it's going to be relaxing – until you get there. By the time you've hauled everything from the car to the sand, swatted away insects, gotten sand in your mouth and rearranged the beach blanket for the 10th time, you're ready to go home. Your next beach day will be different. With these easy hacks, the hardest part about going to the beach is convincing yourself to leave.
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1. Make a Fitted Sheet Blanket
A beach blanket or oversized towel always ends up crumpled and covered in sand within minutes of being laid out on the sand. Next time, bring an old fitted sheet and arrange it on the beach with the elastic facing up. Tuck beach bags, water bottles, rolled towels and other heavier items into the four corners, creating an enclosed rectangular space that won't budge or let in sand.
2. Hide Valuables in Diapers
Before everyone runs into the water or heads off to visit the snack stand, you'll want to make sure money, keys and other valuables are well-hidden. Stash a (clean) diaper in your beach bag for exactly this purpose. Place valuables inside, wrap it up so it looks used and tuck it inside your beach bag. Even if thieves are brazen enough to go through your bag, they probably won't open a used diaper.
3. Transport Beach Toys in Laundry Baskets
It's always harder to carry everything out at the end of a long beach day than it was to carry it in. There's no need to add to the weight by bringing a few pounds of sand home with you. By using a mesh laundry hamper or plastic laundry basket to transport beach toys, you can toss in everything and trust that any lingering sand will shake out through the holes before you make it to the parking lot.
4. Use Frozen Water Bottles in Coolers
Instead of using reusable ice packs to keep your food and drinks cold, try freezing water bottles the night before. (You may need to let a little water out of completely full bottles to prevent them from cracking when the water expands.) Use them as makeshift ice packs to start the day and let them thaw in the afternoon to drink. Your cooler will be lighter by the end of the day.
5. Pack Cupcake Liners for Popsicles
Sticky fingers plus sand equals an irritating mess. Keep cupcake liners in your beach bag. Before anyone enjoys a frozen treat, push the stick through the liner. As it melts, any drips will be caught in the liner. Another use? Tuck an upside-down liner over an open can of soda or cup of liquid to keep insects out between sips.
6. Bring Frozen Lemonade Pouches
Freshly squeezed lemonade always tastes best by the water, but it's not like you're going to bring a cutting board and juicer to the beach. Make lemonade at home the day before a beach trip, pour single servings into individual freezer bags and freeze them overnight. At the beach, pour the thawed lemonade into cups or use a spoon to eat it while it's slushy and half frozen.
7. Make a Speaker With a Plastic Cup
What's a beach day without music? Share your beach playlist with your group using a plastic cup as a makeshift speaker. Turn on music on your phone and tuck it into the cup to slightly amplify the sound.
8. Pack a Separate Wet Bag
By the end of the day, half of your belongings are dry, and the other half of your items are covered in wet sand. The two groups don't need to meet, so always pack an empty garbage bag or other plastic bag for a beach trip. Collect wet bathing suits and towels in this bag and keep everything else in your beach bag dry.
9. Corral Babies With an Inflatable Pool
By next summer, they'll be big enough to run into the surf, but this summer, your littlest beach buddies need close supervision. Bringing along an inflatable pool is the perfect way to keep young toddlers safe and happy by the shore. Pour in some water and/or sand and a few toys to occupy them.
10. Pack Baby Powder for Sand Removal
There's no need to pick up a pretty seashell as a souvenir of your beach trip; the sand that's still stuck between your toes when you get home is souvenir enough. Before leaving the parking lot, sprinkle baby powder over your hands, feet and other sandy areas to get the grainy stuff to budge. The powder should absorb the water in the damp sand so it easily falls off your skin.