10 Family Beach Travel Planning Ideas

March 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Now that my family and I live in Orlando, we’re only an hour from the nearest beach, which means we’ll be going a lot more, especially in the fall and winter. In fact, we’re already planning a couple days in Cocoa Beach, and nearby New Smyrna (home of the Bob Ross Museum! Yes, that Bob Ross.)

Caribbean BeachBefore that, when we came down to Florida for vacation, we always took a day to visit Melbourne Beach, and we learned a few important lessons from going.

  1. Do your research first While we always think of the sand and surf at a beach, some beaches can be rather dangerous. Some beaches can be rocky, while others can be close to volcanoes — looking at you, Hawaii! — and still others can have jellyfish and shark problems. Read travel reviews and beach sites to see whether your chosen beach is on the danger list, or maybe isn’t as sand-filled as you hoped. Some beaches even have daily reports of dangers like high surf, rip tides, and specific sea critters to watch out for.
  2. Try to go in the middle of the week. I’m not a big fan of crowds. That means hitting the beach in the middle of the week, rather than the weekends. The crowds are a little smaller and it’s easier to get around. Even if you travel in the off-season like we do, the beach can still be crowded with locals on the weekends, so go on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Also, don’t forget, it’s still warm before Memorial Day and after Labor Day, so try to go outside the summer travel season. Plus it’s still plenty warm in Texas, Southern California, and Florida during the winter too.
  3. Decide whether to stay overnight You should figure this out in advance, especially if you’re more than three hours from the beach. Being outside, in the sun and wind, can make you more tired than you realize, and make driving unsafe. So decide before you go whether you should get a hotel. And remember, hotels closer to the beach cost more, but have great views.
  4. Pack your electronics in resealable sandwich bags. Skip the fancy plastic containers. A resealable bag is water-tight and sand-resistant, and you can still see the phone through the plastic. In some cases, you may even be able to use it. They won’t keep your items safe, but they’ll stay clean and dry.
  5. But consider a Vacation Vault for valuables. These are little plastic lockable boxes for your small valuables, like keys and phones. The vault comes with a 3-digit combination lock, and will deter the opportunistic thief and keep your items safe while you’re in the water or admiring your little one’s latest sand creation.
  6. Take a change of clothes. Every. Time. The first time we visited a Florida beach, it was in February, so it was a little chilly. We decided we weren’t going to swim or play in the water, so we didn’t need to take anything. Still, being from Indiana, our kids had never seen the ocean before, so they weren’t letting the cold — or my half-joking warnings about sharks — keep them out of the surf. They were fine until that first big wave crashed down and swept them off their feet. And we didn’t bring a change of clothes or towels. Now, we always pack clothes and towels, even if we’re “not going to get wet.”
  7. Take plenty of sunscreen. I don’t need to say too much about this. You’ve heard it all before. Just pick something with a high SPF rating and won’t come off with sweat and water, even for black and Hispanic children. My kids are from Haiti and Bolivia, and we still make them put on sunscreen when we go to the beach. And don’t forget t-shirts, wide-brimmed hats, beach umbrellas, and anything else to protect you from sunburn.
  8. Take the beach home with you. The first time we went to the beach, my kids loved it so much, we were able to take a little home with us. We had some empty jars (don’t ask), so we put some sand and a few of their best shells in each of them, and they were able to take the beach back home to Indiana with them. If you want to save some of your beach trip, pack a small baby food jar or decorative jar and fill it with some sand. Put it on a shelf at home to remind yourself of the fun times.
  9. Save time in the evening for a fresh seafood dinner. If you like seafood, you owe it to yourself to try one of the local, non-chain restaurants at your beach. When my family and I visit Melbourne and Cocoa Beach, Florida, we always hit the seafood places. It’s not frozen and flown-in, it’s not 18 – 24 hours old, it’s fresh caught that day. While we can get seafood anywhere, there’s something about getting it at its very freshest.
  10. Leave super early and/or stay extra late. Consider heading to the beach at 6 am, and leaving after 9 or 10 pm, or some combination thereof. If you completely ignored item #2, and went to the beach on the weekend during peak travel season, there’s going to be a huge traffic jam coming in that morning and heading home that night. So get up extra early and/or head home later than everyone else to avoid the stress of traffic. You came to the beach to relax, so don’t undo what you did in a 3-mile chain of traffic.

What about you and your beach visits? What do you do, take, or avoid when you’re heading to the coast or even your favorite lake? Leave a comment on our Facebook page or in the comments section below.

Photo credit: đây chỉ là cái kho chứa hình (Flickr, Creative Commons)


Erik Deckers is a travel writer, as well as a content marketer and book author. He is the co-author of Branding Yourself, No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine. Erik has been blogging since 1997, and has been a newspaper humor columnist for over 20 years

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