The Southern Glamper: 13 Lucky Tips to Make Your Next Beach Trip the Most Memorable Yet

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13 Lucky Tips to Make Your Next Beach Trip the Most Memorable Yet

Friday, July 12, 2019


The beaches along 30A in Florida are my absolute favorite in the Southeast.

Maybe you have already taken your family vacation for this year.  Or maybe you will take a late summer trip.  But, if you are planning a trip to the beach, I'd like to share a few tips from over our years of traveling both as a couple and as a family.



Think back to some of your best trips to the beach.  What made some of those trips ones that you still remember?  Hopefully, those are fond memories.  We made lots of trips to the beach as a couple before having a baby.  My friend Susan is a beach pro.  I feel like I learned more things from her over those trips than anyone.  She is all about the fun and the easy.

Late afternoon beach days by myself are a favorite for sure.  They are quiet and uninterrupted.


Go to the beach in the late afternoon

You may think that hitting the beach first thing after breakfast is when to hit the waves.  Sure, it's tempting.  But the best time to head off to those sugar sand shores is in the afternoon.  My favorite time to go is about 2:30 or 3.  The late afternoon is less crowded.  The weather begins to cool, and it is divine.  We still do beach mornings, but late afternoons are my favorite.  I actually prefer to go to the pool in the morning and beach after lunch.  Which brings me to the next point...

Be okay with not doing everything together

So what if everyone is vegged out and doesn't want to hit the beach late in the day.  Go by yourself.  I love that too.  It's okay for everyone to do their own thing.  After all, it isn't only your vacation.  That also means, it's okay to go shopping, get a pedicure or something else you want to do.  Give yourself and everyone else a break if they or you need it.

Night crabbing can be a lot of fun.  We always just let them go at the end. 

This boy is a professional crab hunter.  He is really great at finding them!

Go night crabbing

Night crabbing is one of my favorite activities.  Grab a flashlight or headlamp and head to the beach with some buckets and shovels.  These little white crabs can typically be found running along the soft sand away from the water.

And in some beach spots, you can find larger crabs.  We found some big ones on our recent trip.  We didn't keep any of these.  So, calm down PETA friends.  No crabs were harmed by us at the beach.  Kids love this activity and adults too.  This will also surely polish off any kids that you want to hit the sack afterward!



We had fresh fish more than once on our trip.  Take advantage of local fish markets and eat in!

Cook or at least eat in

My least favorite way to spend my time at the beach is in a line waiting on dinner or in traffic trying to get to dinner.  If you are close enough to walk somewhere and want to brave the crowds, then maybe this is an option.  For us, its a deal breaker.  On our recent trip, our son asked us at breakfast if we could eat at the beach house that night and not go to a restaurant for dinner.  Yep.  I feel you, buddy.  Our last meal out was not great, and it was a time suck.  

I think the only time it is worth it to do dinner out is if you can grab a sitter or are traveling without children.  You can settle in for the wait with some drinks and enjoy a night out.  

Otherwise, plan some easy meals.  I typically do pizza, burgers, and tacos at the beach.  We did a steak night with really nice cuts of meat we bought at a local butcher at home.  The crockpot is another effortless meal option.  Throw in some baking potatoes and you can do a baked potato bar one night.  The potatoes can cook all day while you are at the beach.

And don't forget about take out.  There are lots of fish markets that will steam or prepare foods that you can pick up and take out and enjoy at your place with a few added sided like salad or veggies.  No one is rushing out getting ready after a day at the beach or the pool and everyone can enjoy their daytime activities longer.  Plus, when you are done, go night crabbing!  (see suggestion above again!)

I have a list of my most recent Beach Meals, recipes and more that you can check out.

Eating out is not always the best option at the beach.  But, we do enjoy going to breakfast.

If you are in an area where there are food trucks, this can be an easy option.

Eat out at breakfast or lunch

Having breakfast out (or lunch) is such a better choice if you want a break from the kitchen.  We are early risers.  But don't forget that you can also do brunch!  I find that we can walk up and grab a table without the wait.  Beach towns are typically fun of delicious options from breakfast tacos and seafood omelets.  So you aren't going to miss a thing.  Plus lunch lets you take a break mid-day and grab fish sandwhiches and more.  I find that the crowds are far less daunting in the morning and midday while everyone else is trekking to the beach or pool.

We like to rent beach chairs. They come with umbrellas and are waiting for us at the beach.

Rent chairs

Spend the money and rent a set of umbrellas and chairs.  I know that it may seem like a waste, but it is worth it.  I don't have to lug that all down to the beach and back.  Someone sets it up for me in a prime spot.  I show up, sit and relax.  Then someone comes to collect it at the end of the day.  Just spend the money and don't question this one item.  Once you do it, you will never go back to hauling all of that gear down to the beach.

Bikes tend to be plentiful in beach towns.  If you can't or don't want to bring your own, rent them.  Most companies will deliver for free!

Most rental companies will also rent gear for kids to join in.  We rented this tagalong for our son since there was so much traffic where we were staying.  It turned my bike into a tandem.


Bike

There is no better place to bike than at the beach.  It is flat.  Bike tires for beach cruisers are fat and easy to ride - so are the seats.  You can rent them or bring your own.  

It is my favorite mode of transportation at the beach.  You can get places faster.  Parking is not a problem.  And it is great exercise.  I literally bike to everything from the store, to get a pedicure or even a meal.  It is the best!

If you have little ones, consider renting bike trailers and other attachments for kids.  I added a tag along for our son on this last trip, and it was a winner.  I wish I had done it for the whole week.  Little ones may struggle to keep up, and it may seem like a lot with busy roads along designated trails.  I think this is a safer option and makes your trip a lot of fun.  Our son loved being able to ride behind me on his own "bike" option and was attached to my bike for safety!

If you have people in your group that cannot bike, you could always rent a golf cart.  Many places are now offering this as a service.


A good soft-sided cooler will keep your drinks colder longer and is lighter to carry!

I also think it is super handy to get a collapsible wagon that you can haul all of your gear to the beach.


Get the right gear

You are going to need the right gear.  I recommend getting a collapsible wagon that you can put the things that you are taking down to the beach like bags, coolers, etc.  This makes it a lot easier.  And if you have stairs to go up and down at your access point, unload it and give everyone something to carry and collapse the wagon for the trip up or down.  Expand when you get to your place and continue pulling!

I do think it is key to have a good sturdy tote or two for towels and snacks.  A premium soft side cooler will serve you well.  They are light and hold ice like a champ.  We have had this RTIC cooler for several years and still use it.  ORCA, that is American made, also has a backpack cooler that is smaller than ours and would be great.

Insulated cups like this Corksicle is perfect.  Mine has a little rubber ring on the bottom that keeps it stable on the side of my chair.  You could also grab these little sand cup holders to use next to your chair.  

Finally, get yourself a little portable blue tooth speaker.  It is really nice to have one with some music playing in the background.

Grab some beach toys and hit the sand!


Include some fun toys and games

Take some games to play at the beach.  And, these don't all have to be played at the beach.  I like to play cards at the beach house at night.  Little kids enjoy easy games like Go Fish and Old Maid.  However, grown-ups might like games like Rook, Oh Hell or London Rummy.  These are all favorites.  And Uno is always a winner for any age group.

Just basic sand toys like a bucket and shovel can be lots of fun.  Or you can order things like Portable Corn Hole.  I also like Beach Paddle Ball or you could just fly a kite.

Anything else is a bonus.  I saw tons of fun floats this year at the beach.  I love this mermaid tail float that is really unique!  Plus, you could use this at the pool as well!

Get more drinks than you think you need

It is hot during the summer at the beach.  You are always going to drink more than you think.  We don't drink a lot of soft drinks at home.  But, I love Fresca at the beach.  If you think you need a twelve pack, grab two.  The same applies to juice boxes or anything else that you consider a beach treat.  You are going to use them.  And, if you don't, bring them along for the trip home to enjoy in the car.  

Pack easy snacks for the beach

I don't take a ton of snacks to the beach, but we do like a few things.  I like to grab things like apples, nuts, jerky, or crackers.  Anything that is easy and won't be messy.  

I'm terrified of taking things like sandwich meats even in a cooler.  I usually pack PB & J for sandwich options. Fruit bars can be another good one - or granola.

Pick up your trash!

Make sure you don't forget a bag for trash while you are at the beach.  Toss into a garbage can on your way out.  This summer I have witness dirty baby diapers being left at a set of chairs as well as some other unsanitary things I won't even say here.  But, I feel 100% you know you have changed a baby diaper.  WHY would you not ensure that you take it out.  And these are far big enough and noticeable that see if without having to look to see if you have picked up all of your garbage!  Good grief.  Sorry.  I'm on a soapbox, but this is just too gross for words!

Wash

Finally, wash your clothes during the week.  I know people that say they are not going to do laundry at the beach.  But, unless you have a maid, you are just taking that all home to wash for the next 72 hours when you get home.  We wash during the week and take home clean clothes and can resume our lives as normal when we get back.  This step for me is a life saver.

What are your best beach tips?  Maybe there is something that I left off that you think is a winner.  When you plan out your trip, little things add up to big success.  I don't plan every minute.  I just plan the things that allow me to kick back and take advantage of my time off.

Until next time...

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