Beach essentials for a fun (and free!) family day out at the seaside

If you’re planning a holiday or a day out at the beach this summer, there are a few essentials you’ll need to make the day as comfortable (and fun!) as possible… Do you usually make a trip to the seaside during the summer? When it’s a Saturday morning and sun’s shining, don’t you just want to pack up the car and head to the coast for a day of sandcastles, ice creams and chips? I’m lucky enough to live near the coast, but I still don’t feel like I’m making the most of those hazy days of summer. And that’s simply because I feel like don’t have the ‘kit’ I need to enjoy a day at the beach. So this year I’m determined to get myself thoroughly prepared in advance for summer fun. Sounds counter-productive doesn’t it? Being super-organised for fun?! Well, at the very least, I want to make sure that my visitors and their little ones can enjoy spending some time at the beach too. And while I was shopping for these goodies, I got a little carried away and picked up a bargain woven hammock for my garden (Yes, I’m that optimistic about the summer!) and a cool tee for my husband from The North Face – I couldn’t resist!

Here’s my list of the beach essentials I’ve invested in to make sure that I can make the most of those sunny days.

1. WIND BREAK

An essential for the changeable British weather is a wind break. No matter how lovely and sunny the day is, it always seems to be windy at the beach! The wind break I’ve chosen is a far cry from the old heavy wooden poles I remember from my childhood. This one by Vango packs down into a tiny bag (no bigger than 50cm long) and can be used on the beach to provide shade or to create a wind-free zone when you’re camping.

2. BEACH SHELTER

I never realised how much I needed a beach shelter until I bought one. I used to scoff at people setting up camp on the beach but now I know what an essential it is, especially if you have kids. It’s easy to put up and can prolong the amount of time you’ll spend on the beach because it provides shelter from the wind, shade from the sun and somewhere to get changed (or change babies) if necessary. Little ones will be safe because the Sundome shelter I got from Simply Hike provides UV protection – up to the equivalent of SPF 50. Which is exactly what my pale skins needs if I’m planning to spend any time at the beach!

3. PICNIC BLANKET

The use of a picnic blanket is two-fold. Of course, it’s ideal for sitting on and for spreading out tasty treats for lunch. But it’s also handy for keeping warm when that coastal wind picks up. A picnic blanket is usually big enough for the whole family to snuggle under and warm up after a dip in the sea. Also, if you choose one with a waterproof underside you won’t get a soggy bottom, no matter how moist the sand (or land, if you’re in the park) is.

4. PACKED LUNCH

I’m not just talking about the food and drink; I’ve invested in a couple of things to make my beach lunch more enjoyable. An insulated lunch bag will keep your sandwiches fresh until lunchtime so I think it’s an essential piece of kit. I got this lightweight lunch bag in the Rex London sale for just £1.95 and it folds down flat after you’ve finished lunch so it’s better than those big cool-boxes you have to lug back to the car. Plus, it’s made from recycled plastic bottles, hurrah! Speaking of which, taking plenty of water with you to drink is so important if you’re going to spend a day on the beach, so grab a spill-free bottle that you can refill from the tap. Plus, I like to use a flask because I can’t go too long without a cup of tea, so I’m very grateful that my brother-in-law gave us a cute two-person flask for Christmas.

5. GAMES

During my daily walks I often see families playing on the beach and it makes me think “ahhh I need to get a boules set/cricket bat/frisbee” for the summer. So that’s exactly what I’m going to do this year. And I’m planning to take advantage of those coastal breezes by flying a kite! Can you imagine anything more fun?! Similarly, the beach is a great place to learn how to poi – there’s plenty of space and you won’t do too much damage if you drop one!

So there you have it, an almost-comprehensive list of the things you (and I) will need to invest in for our summer trips to the beach this year. Sure, there are other things you need – sunscreen, first aid kit, a change of clothes, arm bands, flipflops etc – and those essentials will vary depending on whether you’re taking children with you or are just planning to go for a paddle with your pals. But I think that my list provides the bare necessities that’ll let you spend a whole day on the beach without too much fuss – and lots of fun! Let me know what you would add to the list in the comments below 🙂

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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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