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10 Must haves to pack in your beach bag this summer

Ready for a day in the sand and surf
Jane Beecher Russo

Arriving at the beach without the necessary supplies can make a promising day of fun and sun into a miserable shortened day of frustration. It really does make sense to get organized before you go, and here is the checklist you'll need to pull off a great day.

Beach blanket
Beach blanket Jane Beecher Russo, Ferry Beach

Beach blanket

No trip to the beach would be complete without a blanket to lay on. An old blanket you keep designated for beach trips gives you and your family a place to relax, sunbathe, and enjoy snacks or a picnic lunch. Plus, you'll go home at the end of the day evenly tanned on both your front and back!

Beach towels
Beach towels Jane Beecher Russo, Ferry Beach

Beach towels

A beach towel is a must if you plan to go swimming, wading, or walking in the water. However, there are other great reasons why you can't leave that towel behind. Might you need to wipe your hands before eating? Or maybe you'll need to dry up excess suntan oil, or wipe sand off your feet and legs prior to putting shoes back on. Even sitting on your beach towel on your car's seat is important if you're wet, but it can be imperitive if the car seat is hot- think leather!

Sunscreen
Sunscreen Jane Beecher Russo, Ferry Beach

Sunscreen

Sunscreen is a must, even for seasoned beach goers. The American Cancer Society warns that even 30 minutes of direct sun exposure can leave you with burned skin. The sun is strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If you are planning a trip to the beach, the best bet would be to avoid this 4 hour window when the sun’s rays can do the most harm. This is especially critical if you are fair skinned.

The most compelling reason to use protection from the sun is even if your skin doesn’t feel or look burned, the sun’s rays are slowly breaking down the protective barrier that your body needs to last it a lifetime. The critical areas to apply sunscreen on any day are the most commonly exposed skin areas. Face, arms, and hands take the brunt of sun damage over years of baring them while doing everyday activities.

Hat
Hat Jane Beecher Russo, Ferry Beach

Hat

Hats and visors not only protect your face from the sun, but can also have unintended benefits. Hats with a 360° brim protect the delicate folds of your outer ear, a place that can burn quickly. Hats with a neck flap protect the back of your neck, an area that is commonly forgotten when applying sunscreen. No matter what style of hat or visor you choose, it will provide relief from the direct sun for your head and eyes, interrupting the delivery of harmful sun exposure. They just plain make sense awhen you consider their added protection against headache and dizzyness from sun stroke, nausea from heat stroke, and lastly the shade they provide will limit eye strain.

Sunglasses
Sunglasses Jane Beecher Russo, Ferry Beach

Sunglasses

Great harm can be done to the eyes from staring into direct sunlight for hours. If you are planning a trip to the beach with your family, you’ll want fresh rested eyes in order to easily locate your family members at all times. Just as humid heat can make the air appear to waver, so can excessive eye strain and eye fatigue. Sunglasses provide your eyes with the relief they need in order to stay focused. Glare resistant sunglasses provide the additional benefit of breaking the contact between the eyes and the sun's glare. And let's not forget, less squinting means less fine wrinkles around the eyes!

Water
Water Jane Beecher Russo, Ferry Beach

Water

Keeping your body hydrated is crucial for balancing exposure to wind and sun. The body sweats even when you don’t feel moisture on your skin, but the sun combined with the wind adds an additional element to making your skin feel like you’ve been to the desert. Think of how the persistent sun and wind at the beach would dry a wet towel hanging on a clothesline. In just a short time, the towel is dry and stiff, evidence of the danger to the vulnerable skin layers covering you from head to toe.

Hand cleaning wipes
Hand cleaning wipes Jane Beecher Russo

Hand cleaning wipes

When access to bathroom facilities are not readily available, hand cleaning wipes solve a world of problems. They’re great for cleaning off germs, sand, spilled sunscreen, or even excess suntan oil just to name a few; but the most common reason for packing them in a beach bag is to be available to can clean the family’s hands before snacks or that great picnic lunch you packed. There are certainly many brands available to purchase at your favorite store, but it's just as easy to make your own, with this recipe.

Snacks or picnic lunch
Snacks or picnic lunch Jane Beecher Russo

Snacks or picnic lunch

Unless you’ve stopped at the beach for just a short visit, having a snack or some lunch is going to be on your mind eventually. Many beaches have food and drink concessions available, but many either do not or they are not in close proximity to the perfect spot you’ve found to lay down your beach blanket.

Foods that are not affected by heat are your best bet to bring to the beach. Using re-usable containers is preferable to wrappers and trash that may be caught up in the wind and carried away. Even if you aren’t an unintentional litter bug, trash receptacles will quickly become overwhelmed if everyone at the beach brings their food in wrappings that are meant to be thrown away. Aside from being unsightly, the overflowing rubbish cans attract seagulls that pick at the wrappers of leftover food and leave behind the remaining odds and ends of debris that will then blow down the beach into the ocean or the protected sand dunes.

Aloe Vera gel
Aloe Vera gel Jane Beecher Russo

Aloe Vera gel

At the point where your skin starts to sting, you’ll be glad you brought an option for sunburn relief. Aloe is a natural plant that has calming effects on irritated skin. Available in cream, lotion, and spray, it can be found alongside sunscreen products in your favorite store.

Even if you’re not feeling the sting of over exposed skin, periodically try pressing a finger down on an area of skin that has been absorbing the sun. If the result is a contrast of white to pink or white to red, then the sunburn has already gotten started. Your skin will thank you later if you take the time to apply sunburn relief and cover up for the rest of that day’s beach visit.

Book or Electronic Reader
Book or Electronic Reader Jane Beecher Russo

Book or Electronic Reader

If you’ve come to the beach to relax, then adding a book or e reader to your beach bag will give you something to do when you’re not staring off into the mesmerizing waves and the view from the shoreline. A good ‘beach read’ novel is a favorite of many beach goers, because they are typically set in a coastal town, providing the reader with a relative storyline. The wind and the rhythm of the surf is so relaxing that it can make reading a book feel like you’ve stripped all of your worries and cares away.