A day at the beach – or better yet, a week! – doesn't come without a bit of pre-planning. Smart beach goers know that there's more needed for a beach day than just a cute swimsuit. In fact, your beach bag should be packed with several important items needed to keep you comfortable and healthy in the sun. Here are five things not to forget when planning a day at the beach.
Sunscreen (credit: Thinkstock)
Sunscreen is a no brainer, right? But all sunscreens are not created equal, so it's important to research brands on the Environmental Working Group's website to make sure they don't contain harmful ingredients. And sunscreen isn't the end-all when it comes to sun protection, either. Savvy sun worshippers will pack an oversized hat and UV water shirts/rash guards for both kids and adults. A giant beach umbrella also offers protection (they can often be rented at the beach if you don't have one), while a pair of really good sunglasses should be at the top of everyone's list.
Cooler Bag (credit: Thinkstock)
Insulated Cooler Bag
Water will go fast during a day in the hot sun, and an insulated cooler bag is a great way to keep water bottles cold. A chilled bag is also great if you plan to pack other drinks and snacks that need to be refrigerated. Of course, when eating food on the beach, keep your eye out for seagulls, who may try to swipe your food!
Cash beach towel (credit: Thinkstock)
Unless you're really familiar with a particular beach or have season-long beach tags, bring some cash with you. Some beaches charge a fee for access, and even if you find that you don't have to pay when you enter the beach, the beach tag "police" may walk up to you while you're lounging and tell you to cough up some cash for a tag. In addition, shore-side salesman often peddle ice cream and other treats, which can be hard to say no to if you have kids with you. Think of it as the beach's equivalent of the neighborhood ice cream truck, and pack cash accordingly.
Supersize Beach Towel (credit: Thinkstock)
Supersized Beach Towel
Size matters when it comes to beach towels. For your beach day, it's a good idea to bring a beach towel that's big enough that you can lay on and not get sand all over yourself. A small towel just won't cut it if you have any plans to lay out in the sun, so invest in the biggest, fluffiest towel you can find. A supersized beach blanket is another good option, and it can be used underneath smaller towels if needed.
Books Or Magazines
The term "beach read" was invented just for this kind of a day. There's nothing like devouring a frivolous summertime book as the ocean waves roar in the background. Chick lit, a meaty mystery… anything is fair game when it comes to beach reading. If you don't want to commit to a book, the beach is also a great place to catch up on that stack of magazines you haven't had a chance to read. Because, let's face it, celebrity gossip is always a little bit more fun when it's under the sun.
Related: 7 Best Beach Reads For Summer 2015
for more features.