Rule #282: Prior planning prevents poor performance.
This summer we’ve had our fair share of packing, traveling, beaching, and having a ton of fun in the process! It’s a lot of work to travel with two kids under four, but we’re starting to get the hang of it. As I type this post, I’m taking a break from packing for yet another awesome trip to the beach! I decided to share what we’ve learned from all of our travels. We used similar tricks and hacks on our trip to New Mexico over Thanksgiving last year; we just changed them up a bit from mountain needs to beach needs. The first half of the post has pictures and explanations. At the end of the post, I’ve made a complete list of things that have really helped us on our travels with the baby and kids! Hope this helps someone who’s packing for a trip soon!
By far the best hack I can tell you is this one: A FITTED SHEET AS A BABY BEACH AREA! Holy smok-a-roonies. All you do is get an old (or cheap Walmart) fitted sheet – we used a Queen size. Fold the sides up the opposite of how you would on a bed. Then put heavy items like coolers, buckets, towel bags, etc. around the sides to keep the barrier propped up.
It worked wonders for us! We used it as the kids’ snack area, too. It gave the babies a place to play without having to touch the sand. Works for bigger kids who hate the sand like my big feller.
Another great tip for a beach trip with kids is a portable play center. We use this one all the time at home (in the backyard, cul-de-sac, at Corey’s baseball class, etc.). It came in serious handy at the beach and the cover was an absolute must to keep the princess out of the sun! It’s lightweight and very easy to fold up (I fold it by myself while holding her at baseball class, so you know it’s easy).
A blow up pool is also a great option for a baby-friendly area! The only downside is bringing it to-and-from the beach. Luckily on this trip, we were able to drive onto the beach. That meant we could just shove the pool in the back of the car (still inflated) when we went back to the house.
I know, I know, I know. AGAIN with the Stasher Bags, lady?! But I can’t quit them. They were awesome to take to the beach because I didn’t care if they got sandy. I would just wash them in the dishwasher once we got back to the house and refill them later. Plus, it’s less plastic trash you’ve gotta worry about.
I used them for medicines, bar tools, and Brooke’s teethers.
On this trip, I decided to throw in some extra bar goodies. Forgot the koozies last time and holy smokes was that a tragedy.
This travel organization tip is brought to you by good ole Jon Boy himself. We got a large storage crate and put all of our cooking and cleaning stuff inside. This way, we aren’t worried about things breaking or being too bulky. Jon Boy usually puts this in the truck first towards the back. Then he can stack whatever he wants on top and isn’t worried about fragile things! Another tip: surround glass things (like the olive oil bottle on the left) with plastic things to protect them. Put heavier stuff on the bottom and fill the top with lighter things like chips and crackers.
For our last trip to Port Aransas with our family, I was doing a lot of cooking but didn’t want to have to lug every single thing down to the beach house. Also, I don’t think Jon Boy would have let me. So, I decided to pre-measure dry ingredients for things. I packed everything I needed for that meal in the same bags/area so I could get to them when I needed them.
I pre-measured cheese for my Heirloom Tomato Pie, threw it in a (you guessed it) Stasher Bag, and labeled it with an adhesive label (the label comes off easily). When I went to make the pie, all I had to do was open the bag and toss it in. Then I washed the ole bag and got to use it for snacks later during the trip.
For our trip to the beach tomorrow, I’m making Easy Mexican Rice. I pre-measured the rice into a tupperware, so that after I’m done, we have a place for leftovers!
I also brought fruit and veggies in tupperware so 1) they wouldn’t get smooshed on the trip and 2) we could have tupperware for leftovers.
For the Heirloom Tomato Pie, I went ahead and made the dough 3 days in advance and froze it. The night before I made the pie, I thawed it in the fridge. Made for a much easier process than having to make the dough on the trip! You never know what the beach house will have!
This traveling hack is courtesy of my mother-in-law. She puts beach towels in a laundry basket for the trip. That way, the towels are easy to find AND you’ve got a laundry basket to haul around the dirty and clean stuff while you’re there. It’s no fun having to carry all that stuff around on vacation with just your two pretty arms. I also threw in some laundry stuff so it’s all in one easy-to-find spot.
This may seem weird, but I’ve found that it’s best if we have two separate bags: one for the pool + one for the beach. The pool one has pool-specific toys, hats, and sunscreen (also helps to keep them from being sandy). The beach bag has all of the beach and sand toys, an outdoor blanket, extra hats and sunglasses, baby wipes for the kids’ face, hand sanitizer, and extra sunscreen.
Jon Boy is the master. I comes by it honestly – his dad is a pretty darn good packer, too. I have no idea how we fit all of this stuff in here. It astounds me.
This is probably common sense for a lot of parents out there, but do yourself a favor and always buy 2-piece swimsuits for your kids. Trying to pull off a wet swimsuit to change a dirty, poopy diaper on the sandy beach is a special kind of cruel and unusual punishment. We love this RuffleButts brand! They’re all so cute and provide sun great protection! We also just bought a RuffleButts swimmie that’s purple seersucker.
Here’s a full list of the things we brought that made our beach trip with kids (and baby) so much easier (and why):
Foldable Drying Rack like this one – stole this idea from my sister-in-law – you quickly run out of space to dry bathing suits so having one of these bad boys is very handy!
Different Sized Coolers – large ones for cold stuff at the house and smaller ones to carry things to the beach. It’s no fun being the person stuck wheeling the cooler down and back for those 1-hour-because-it’s-almost-nap-time trips.
Golf Cart – if you can swing the price, it’s worth every single penny. It helps to bring the kids down to the beach quicker, take them back faster (think: whiny, hot, hungry kids with a long walk back to the house), and helps to carry heavy items down and back.
Snacks – this seems self explanatory, but trust me. Bring ALL OF THE SNACKS. Even if you think there’s no way possible you’ll eat them all. BRING. THE. SNACKS. We kept ours in Stasher Bags and would wash the bags when we got back to the house (they’re dishwasher safe) to get the sand out. Don’t forget the waters, juices, Gatorades, etc. for everyone to stay hydrated.
Baby Wipes – not just for the baby’s butt, but also for kids’ faces, hands, eyes, feet, belly buttons, etc. Some kids love sand, some kids hate it. There’s nothing worse than a whiney toddler rubbing his poor eyes with a handful of sand making everything crumble faster than a dry cookie. It’s an ugly scenario. I’ve heard baby power helps to get sand off, too, but I never got that far! Baby wipes did the trick for us.
Baby Gates – the house we stayed in had 3 levels all with very doozie-like stairs. That didn’t bode well for our babies, so we brought an old school baby gate similar to this one to keep the crawling babies from tumbling down the stairs.
Fitted Sheet | Blow-up Pool | Portable Play Center – all of these are great options for keeping the babies happy while at the beach! The fitted sheet is a cheap, lightweight option for keeping babies (and big kids) out of the sand. There’s a picture way above in the beginning of this post for reference. Basically spread the fitted sheet out and fold the four corners up, propping them up with coolers or heavy bags to form a barrier. We even put an outdoor blanket inside of the fitted sheet for extra protection. The babies and the kids could eat on the blanket without sand getting in their food. The blow-up pool is a great option if you have an easy way to transport it! Does the same thing as the fitted sheet but with even more protection. Probably my favorite baby purchase since having Brooke would have to be the Portable Play Center we got for the beach and for Corey’s baseball classes. I hate letting her just crawl around on dirty (or sandy) floors, so having this helped us tremendously.
Portable Fans – portable misting fans are great for 1) keeping the kids cool and 2) washing off any extra sand that may have gathered on little faces.
Separate Toys/Bags for the Beach and Pool – having separate toys means you’re not worried about washing them off before heading to the pool. Makes life a lot easier! I also made a separate bag for the pool and the beach to avoid sand issues, and also so I wouldn’t have to repack things in between! Just grab the bag and go!
Wagon – these are great for walking kids, baby, and all of the stuff to the beach! Takes the stress off your back. This is a great option!
Laundry Basket Full of Beach Towels – let’s face it, you’re going to be doing a lot of towel laundry (and regular laundry for that matter) if you’re heading to the beach with kids. By packing your towels in your laundry basket, you’re killing two birds with one stone. It’s not fun to have to haul an armful of laundry around because you left your basket at home! Don’t make laundry on vacation any less fun than it already is.
Whatever isn’t already there for you – some places don’t have things like toilet paper, dish soap, laundry detergent, dryer sheets, bar tools, koozies, handsoap, Ziplocs, trash bags, etc. waiting for you when you get there. Make sure you find out ahead of time what you’ll need to bring so you’re not having to double-back to get more supplies when all you want to do is put your toes in the water.