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Tips and Ideas for a Great Family Beach Vacation

If you are planning a beach trip any time soon, here are a few simple tips and ideas for a great family beach vacation. Sit back and listen to the sound of the waves and enjoy your family trip.

family beach vacation
Family Beach Vacation

I know that the beach is not everyone’s favorite family vacation, but our family loves it! I have found a few useful tips to ensure an easy beach trip. If you are planning a trip anytime soon, I hope these tips and ideas for a great family beach vacation will be of some help to you.

Tips and Ideas for a Great Family Beach Vacation

Our History with the Beach

When the kids were younger, our beach vacations usually consisted of sunburns, jellyfish, and sibling arguments with a lot of fun and love sprinkled into the mix! LOL! That does not sound like much fun, but it was, and now the memories are priceless – what good times!

As the kids became adults, we started doing full family beach vacations. Amazingly enough, we still had sunburns, jellyfish, and sibling arguments, but the fun and love was still there as well! Again, all of these left memories that we wouldn’t trade for anything.

It seems like every vacation has it’s own set of problems. A little planning and preparation can help prevent a few of those problems – good luck with the sibling arguments though.

Two young girls enjoy a beach vacation, with one standing in a pink shirt and green shorts, and the other crouching in a green top and purple bottoms, reaching into a shallow water pool. The ocean and other beachgoers are visible in the background.

On the Way to the Beach (Road Trip)

A lot will determine how you travel to your next beach getaway.

  • How far away is your destination?
  • Are you traveling with young children?
  • Are you going to beach resorts or will you be on your own?
  • How long do you have on your summer vacation?

If the beach is within a day’s drive, we will either drive all the way through in one day, or drive halfway or more and get a hotel for the night. The next morning we have a shorter distance and can get there earlier in the day. Of course for long trips, you can always fly.

One of the biggest drawbacks to flying is that you cannot carry all of your own beach equipment. That is when inclusive resorts come in handy. They usually provide the beach equipment you will need.

Traveling with kids can be a fun experience. We are always in two vehicles when it is the whole family. The two older girls used to trade out vehicles ever so often, so one would ride in the back with “Uncle Jacob.” Having Jacob and Caddy together for any amount of time was always a hoot!

A couple years ago, Kristy and Evelyn (Jacob’s family) rode with us. Evelyn, who was 4 at the time, had her little travel desk with all sorts of activities to keep her busy. I have some of the cutest videos (secret ones of course) of her singing away! Precious!

A young girl with blonde hair sits in a car seat wearing a pink shirt with a flower design. She has a stuffed animal neck pillow with a leopard print around her neck and looks at the camera, ready for her beach vacation.
Evelyn – Traveling to the Beach for her 1st Beach Experience

Here are a few ideas to take along with you to make your road trip a little more enjoyable:

  • Snacks and Drinks
  • Motion Sickness Medicine – We learned this one the hard way.
  • Family Travel Games and Activities for the Kids
  • Phone Chargers
  • Earbuds if you want to listen to something different
  • Blanket
  • Travel Pillows
  • Make sure you have the Waze app on your phone.

Photojeepers.com has some great tips on Road Trip Snacks for Kids. There are great ideas and another checklist. You know I am all about a list!

What to Pack for a Family Beach Vacation

Just packing your suitcases can be one of the most stressful parts of the whole family vacation. (However, I’d rather pack than unpack!) Knowing what to pack ahead of time can take a lot of the pressure off of you. Kate from “Southern Home & Hospitality” put together a very helpful travel packing list. See her post here to get the download.

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Beach Items to Pack

Some of the items we pack specifically for the beach are:
(Some of these have links for easy ordering. These are here for your convenience, but if you can get to a Sam’s, Dollar Store, Walmart, or Costco, you can find some of these at a lower price.)

If you are just starting out, you may have friends with some of these items you can borrow. I must warn you though, we have had to replace chairs and boogie boards that fell apart during a week of use. The friends didn’t require it, but we still felt the need to replace them.

Food and Snacks to Carry to the Beach

Everyone gets hungry throughout the day, so we like to pack a lunch and take easy snacks. Here are a few ideas that work for us.

  • Sandwiches made on Hawaiian rolls
  • Cuties or mandarin oranges
  • Other Fresh Fruit
  • Beef Sticks
  • Chips
  • Crackers/Cheez-Its (These are fun to feed to the birds.)😂
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Whole Pickles
  • Cheese Sticks
  • Cookies
  • Drinks

There are so many options! What are other ideas?

Money Saving Tip

A friend of ours (pictured below) taught us a money saving trick many years ago. Ice is not that expensive unless you need to purchase it everyday, then it adds up!

Instead of buying ice everyday, we take (or purchase if we forget) a cheap bucket. Each afternoon, we fill it up with water and freeze it. The next morning, the ice can be broken into large pieces to keep the items in the cooler cool.

Two plastic tubs, one blue and one pink, are placed on a wooden table next to a centerpiece with greenery and two white taper candles. A chair is positioned behind the table, reminiscent of relaxed evenings after a beach vacation, with framed photos visible in the background.
Beach Ice Buckets

Other Ways to Cut Expenses While at the Beach

One of the best tips to save money during your beach vacation is to eat some home cooked meals instead of going out every night! We usually try to do simple things like spaghetti, pulled pork, crock pot meals, or casseroles. Many times different family members will take turns cooking a meal, and everyone pitches in to help clean.

I have mentioned before that I am very frugal. On the first day that we get to the beach, usually while we are waiting for the condo to be ready, we head to Walmart to get groceries for the week. Over time we noticed a pattern for us. We would buy too many meals to cook during the week, which either didn’t allow us to go out as much as we wanted, or we had to take it all home. We have scaled way back on those purchases. Now we have the attitude that if we need to go back to the store, we will.

This year we are trying something different – we are buying the groceries here and carrying them with us. If it works, it will save us time and money.

I found this idea very smart if you are a plan ahead person. Elaine Stone shared on her website that she makes her meals in advance at home and freezes them. They carry them in a cooler, and they have instant meals for the week. You can even find the recipes she uses here. It is a brilliant idea! We are going to give this method a shot this year.

Daily Non-Schedule

I hope that if you plan a family beach trip, everyone can relax. For me, that means not having to stay on a strict schedule. For some people, playing it by ear may be stressful, so keep in mind all of the different personalities in your group.

A couple relaxes on beach chairs under two umbrellas, one red and one blue, near the water's edge. Around them, several blue umbrellas and empty beach chairs are scattered on the sandy shore, with the sea visible in the background—an idyllic scene perfect for a beach vacation.

These are some of my favorite times at the beach. They are a good recipe for the best beach day:

  • Get up early while everyone is asleep (This is the best time to be on the beach!)
  • Go down to the beach with my Bible, journal, and coffee
  • Have my quiet time
  • Take a walk looking for shells or other interesting finds
  • Go back to the condo (while everyone is still sleeping) and eat breakfast

Unless there is a day or evening with specific plans, there is no schedule for the rest of the day! We eat when we feel like eating, read when we feel like reading (just me), get in the water when we feel like getting in the water, and go inside when we feel like going inside. That makes the perfect beach day!

A Beach Memento for the Kids

The summer of 2022 Evelyn’s first experience at the beach, and she loved it! I wanted to do something special for all three of my little “beach girls.” Throughout the week they collected all sorts of shells, and somehow I ended up with them when we got home.

I was at Hobby Lobby one day and found large plastic Christmas ornaments. It got me to thinking about the ornament I bought several years ago, so I decided I would make them one from the very shells they collected.

A clear round ornament displaying the text "Gulf Shores, Alabama" rests on a beige fabric surface, evoking memories of a beach vacation. The ornament contains small seashells and sand. Green leaves are partially visible in the lower left corner, and the background features a textured white fringe.

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Items Needed to Make Beach Ornaments

  • Bleach
  • Large Clear Ornaments
  • Sand – Be sure to get enough while you are at the beach. I ended up having to get a friend bring some to me, because I didn’t think to get any while I was there.
  • Small Seashells
  • Jute
  • Paint Marker, Sharpie, or a Vinyl Printout
  • Funnel

Instructions

  1. Soak the seashells in bleach water overnight. Rinse them well and let them dry.
  2. Using a funnel, fill the ornaments almost halfway with sand.
  3. Add small seashells to the ornament.
  4. Put the top back on and tie a bow onto the top of the ornament using jute.
  5. Personalize them with the year, child’s name, location, etc. (Not Pictured Here)

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There are many other ideas and ways to use shells besides the ornaments. See Heather Krout’s “21 Simple Ways to Decorate with Shells” for other decorating tips.

When you are on the beach, you can find some pretty interesting shells. Check out the “False Teeth” and Ear a friend of ours found! The next year Jay found another pair of teeth. LOL! We had a lot of fun with these.

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Yes is the answer to your question! They really did put them in their mouth!

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Lessons from the Beach – Broken but Beautiful
Lessons from the Beach – The Minnow Story
Lessons from the Beach – My Footprints in the Sand
Lessons from the Beach – Happy Shark Week
Special Birthdays

I hope these simple tips and ideas for a great family beach vacation help your next beach vacation run a little more smoothly. Remember, the more prepared you are with what you can control, the easier it will be to handle the things you don’t have much control over, like sibling arguments.

Until next week…

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16 Comments

  1. These tips and tricks for summer travels to the beach are so helpful, Susan! We used to vacation at the beach every year and I never could have imaged we would live so close one day. It made me giggle when I read about how your vacations actually went, ours were very much the same way and it really does make for the best memories. Hugs, CoCo

  2. This is a very timely post for me to come across as I am planning a summer beach trip. I’ve not been o the beach in years so I found your tips very helpful. Incidentaly, I am thinking about doing a Walmart delivery to the home we are staying at for items to get us through the first couple days…just to save on having to head out to the store after a long drive. The story about the ear and teeth is a hoot! Thanks for sharing! Have a beautiful summer season!!

    1. I hope you enjoy every minute of your trip! I’m curious to see how the delivery works in a vacation area. I’m going to give it a try also.

  3. Thanks for sharing your post about tips and ideas for a beach vacation at Senior Salon Pit Stop Link Party 262. Thankfully my kids are grown, but your post reminded me of how much planning has to go into a family vacation. My shares this week are #51, 52, 53, and 54. Hope you enjoy. Warm regards, Nancy Andres @ Colors 4 Health

    1. Thanks so much! My kids are grown also, but we’ve been doing full family vacations with the kids and grandkids. In some ways it’s easier, because the parents handle the grandkids. 😂 I will check out your posts. I really enjoy the link party.

  4. Congratulations, this post will be featured as one of the top 5 posts on SSPS, on FB Bloggers Share, Care & Inspire as well as Instagram: _esmesalon

  5. I love the idea of making meals ahead of time and freezing them. I would have never thought to do this for a vacation, but it would definitely help in saving money on eating out, plus helps with food allergies too! Thank you for sharing all of your tips, but I love this one most Susan.

    1. Thank you so much! I had never thought of making meals ahead of time and freezing them for vacation either. I really like that idea!

  6. Ahh, I just love beach vacations. You have transported me there today! Great tips here! Stopped by from Senior Salon Pit Stop.

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