It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these, over a year in fact, and I thought it would be fun to take a look in my bag again. But this time, I figured I’d show you some things I always bring with me to the beach. It is, after all, summer! Here’s my beach bag emptied out for you.
Let’s start with the basics.
A Beach Towel
I always bring a towel with me to the beach, even if I’m not planning on swimming and have a chair to sit on. Why? Well, if I decide I want to lay out, I can. I can also use a towel to cover my legs or shoulders if I’m chilly or want a break from the sun. And if I decide to test out the water, I can use the towel both dry off and to get stubborn sand off my feet when I leave the beach. All in all, a beach towel is something I never leave behind when I head down to the beach.
I’m pretty picky when it comes to beach bags. I grew up spending summers on the beach in Michigan, and have gone through many, many beach bags. I used to have a cute wicker-like one, but there was really no good way to keep sand out of it, and sand never seemed to filter though as well as you’d think it would. When American Apparel sent me their L’Epicier Leather Bag (in a slate blue that isn’t available any longer, sorry!) I decided to see how it fared at the beach. I know, leather and the beach doesn’t seem like it would work, but it did, and nicely so. It fit everything I needed, including my towel, and wasn’t cumbersome, heavy, or hard to carry. I even brought a chair with me, and managed to sling both over one shoulder. And sand didn’t really get into it because I was able to hang it from my chair without the handles slipping. Plus, it folds over on itself nice since it’s super soft, which means even if I had it on the ground, I could keep sand from blowing or getting kicked in easy. I’ll be alternating this between my yoga bag and my beach bag for the rest of summer, for sure!
I’m not a huge fan of flip flops. In fact, I own just one pair that doesn’t leave me blistered and yearning for something that won’t kill my feet. These “ninja sandals” (as my husband calls them) were actually bought because of one such blister-causing pair of flip flops, and while I wore them quite often a couple summers ago, they’ve become beach sandals recently. Sure, they take a little longer to put on since I have to buckle them, but I don’t care. They are cuter than cheapy flip flops and I don’t have to worry about my feet hurting because of them.
Big Floppy Hat
I like to keep the sun off my face as much as possible, and there’s no better way than a big floppy hat. This one is straw and can fold or roll without creasing or cracking, which is great. I got it at TJ Maxx a couple years ago. What I like best about it is the cord, because I can loop it around my neck or over a chair easily, which keeps it more secure when I’m not wearing it. I’ve also been able to keep it on with the cord on windier days. Oh, and there’s no funky pattern of light that shines through it, which means I don’t have to worry about weird tan lines!
I’m a huge reader, and the beach is one of my favorite places to get lost in a book. I have a Nook, but I’m currently trying to weed my way through the 3 bags of books I took from my Nani’s apartment. This Patricia Cornwell is one of those. Even if I’m heading to the beach with friends or family, I’m never without a book. Quiet time can sometimes sneak up on you, and it’s always my preference to read over playing on my phone or napping.
Gotta get back into the house, right? I have my summer house keys on a different keychain than my car keys just because it’s easier to bring them to the beach this way. Plus, then I don’t have to worry about losing my house keys, car keys, and work keys if something happens and they go missing. A small keychain is much easier to manage, and less to worry about. So make that extra set of keys–it’ll be worth it!
Moving on to the “health stuff”…
Even though I apply sunscreen before I go down to the beach, I always bring extra with me. If it’s going to be a long day, I’ll need to reapply regardless of whether-or-not I swim, and the same goes if it’s hot. I always make sure I have the kind I like and the SPF I prefer. That way, I’m not borrowing something that might irritate my skin, stain my clothes, or cause someone to be out a bunch of money (because let’s face it, sunscreen isn’t cheap).
I learned when I was a teen that dry lips on the beach are the worst! You can’t get them moistened at all, and it’s just, ugh. Yuck. I usually try to make sure my lip balm has SPF in it (the one pictured doesn’t, but it was all I’d brought out with me). I don’t do gloss though, especially since I am back to long hair. Gloss, long hair, and wind don’t mix at all. Add sand into that mix and you’ll be glad you have a towel!
I’m a mosquito magnet, and allergic to them on top of it, which means I immediately swell and itch like crazy when I’m bitten. Hydrocortisone, during the summer, migrates from my purse to my beach bag regularly, because I hate being caught without it. It’s been a sanity-saver on more than one occasion at the beach. If you’re prone to bug bites, stick a tube in your bag and thank me later.
I always have a small pill box with me. It used to be a bottle with a mix of various things in it (Tylenol, Aleve, Benadryl, and Claritin), but when I won a gift certificate to Laughing Vixen Lounge during the Spring 2013 Fashionista Giveaway Event, I had to have the Dark Passenger Compact Mirror/Pill Box. It’s come in handy, making it easier to bring my “just in case” pills and a mirror with me, even in small clutches, and was easy to transition to my beach bag too. Being out in the sun all day can result in a headache if you’re not careful, and you never know when you’ll need a small mirror. This was a good thing to pack.
Bottle of Water
Speaking of headaches, one way to fight them off is to stay hydrated. I’ve almost always brought a bottle of water to the beach, because if you’re thirsty, you certainly don’t want to drink the lake (or ocean) water. It also helps to stay cool. Both staying hydrated and cool are super important on the beach, as dehydration and heat exhaustion are for sure summer buzz-kills. Water is a must in a beach bag, if you haven’t packed a cooler full.
And finally, the fun stuff!
I gotta admit, it’s so nice to have something that’s all-in-one! When I was a kid, it was a pain to bring down a discman, a case of CDs, and a disposable camera (as I often did)–we didn’t have cell phones then, ha. As technology changed, I added a cell phone to the mix and swapped a digital camera for the disposable, which made my bag even bulkier. Now I can have everything in one with my iPhone, which is awesome. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to be able to actually get a phone signal so I can use the phone feature (and the ‘net), but that’s rare. Either way, I bring it so I can take pics and listen to music.
The Perfect Portable Speaker
Music has always been a beach must for me. If I want to close my eyes and relax, tossing on some headphones and tunes helps drown out the sounds of kids screaming. While I didn’t bring headphones down with me this time, I did bring a Bluetooth RockDoc. The beauty of the RockDoc is that I can share music wirelessly from my phone, which means my phone can stay safe in my beach bag. I can also plug headphones direct into the RockDoc, which means if I want to be selfish with my music, I can, and my phone can stay in my bag. Hubs and I put on a chill station on Pandora and relaxed while catching some rays. It was great!
Ever since I was a kid, snacks were a beach staple. No one wanted to have to stop having fun to get grub. Even now, past 30, I want to munch on something while I catch some rays. What I choose to bring down varies. Sometimes it’s super healthy, like carrot sticks and a little hummus, but this time, it was a mixed back of Twizzlers bites and Peanut M&Ms. A good sweet and salty mix! Whatever the snack, I always carry it in something that’ll keep sand out.
Sea Salt Hair Spray
The beach I spend time at is along the shores of Lake Michigan, so you don’t get that salty hair like you do at the ocean. But last summer I made this sea salt spray and used it at the beach after swimming. While my hair doesn’t really get wavy (boo), it gave it some nice texture that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Plus, because there’s alcohol in it, the spray was cooling too. I sprayed it on my body a little to cool off, and the oil gave me a nice sheen. Sexay! After last summer, this became a beach bag must as well. Big fan!
Hair Ties & Barette
This is only a recent re-addition to my beach bag. Last summer, my hair wasn’t long enough to pull back. This summer, however, I needed to add hair ties and a barrette. Why both? I always have an extra hair tie in case one breaks (seems like they always do, right?). They’re good in case it’s windy, or if I want my hair to stay out of the water. I can use 2 for braided pigtails if I want as well. The barrette? I try not to put my wet, uncombed hair up in an elastic, to avoid breakage and painful untangling later. With a barrette, I can twist and pin easily, and it comes out painlessly later.
So that’s it. My beach bag essentials.
What are some things you absolutely must have with you at the beach? Some of the same things, or different ones? See anything you’ll start packing for beach trips now? Let me know in the comments!
I received a sample from American Apparel as compensation for my post/review, but the opinions above are my own and were not influenced by compensation received. For my full disclosure policy, go here.