We're always dreaming of the perfect beach day. Here are some of the very best sun-sand-and-surf hacks I've pinned to my family vacation-planning pinboards.
Get Sand Off with Baby Powder
This first hack can been spied all over Pinterest, including a pin from I Dream of Clean: Do you love the beach but hate tracking sand back to your car, hotel or beach house? Just rub baby powder on skin and the sand will immediately fall off.
Bring a Pint-Size Pool for Your Little One
Little kids just love playing and splashing in the water, but you may not want to spend the entire day baby-wrangling at the water's edge. An inflatable kiddie pool is easy to pack, a breeze to set up, and a safe place to play next to your beach spot, recommends Baton Rouge Moms.
Create a Fancy DIY Sandcastle Kit
Leave it to a blog called Sandy Toes & Popsicles to tell us how to pull-together a fantastic sandcastle-building kit for about $10. (And you could do it for even less by upcycling old items you already have.)
Freeze Aloe Vera for Instant Sunburn Relief
Even when you slather on the SPF, sunburn can happen. A soothing tip from Real Simple: Fill an ice cube tray with aloe vera and you'll have instant sunburn relief back at your beach house.
Make Sand Cast Souvenirs at the Beach
You've already got plenty of sand and water. Just add plaster of Paris, and presto!—you've got a fabulously personal souvenir from your beach vacation. Crafting a Green World offers a step-by-step tutorial on how to make cooler-than-cool sand casts of children's handprints or footprints. When you get home, you can paint them and use a Sharpie on the back to write your kids' ages and the name of the beach for a sweet vacation memento.
Fix a Broken Flip-Flop With a Bread Tag
Don't you hate it when your flip-flop breaks? PopSugar offers this cheap and easy, if temporary, fix: Pull the thong through the bottom, fasten a bread tag to the underside, and you're good to go.
Keep Your Valuables Safe in a Dry Case
How do you keep your phone and credit card safe when you go into the water? Instead of hiding valuables in a bag and hoping for the best, consider wearing a small, waterproof, floatable dry case on a lanyard. This one is designed for paddlers and runs about $15 on Overtons.com.
Find this pin on my Cruising with Kids board.
Use a Shower Curtain Ring to Keep Your Keys Handy
You can thank Martha Stewart for this smart trick to ensure you never drop your keys in the sand. Simply attach a shower curtain ring to your beach bag handle, slip on your key ring, and your keys will always be easy to find.
Use Cupcake Liners to Catch Popsicle Drips
Be sure to pick up some cupcake liners for your beach house rental. They're great for catching popsicle drips, recommends Mommy Shorts.
Find this pin on my Summer Family Getaways board.
Always Bring Bubbles
Kids of all ages love blowing bubbles and a breezy beach is the perfect place to do it, points out Craftionary. For bigger bubbles, your dollar store is likely to stock larger bottles with longer wands.
Chill Your Cooler With Frozen Water Bottles Instead of Ice Packs
More beach wisdom from Martha: Chill your beach cooler with frozen water bottles instead of ice packs. As the day goes on, the ice will thaw and you'll have another round of refreshing drinks.
Snap Some Silly Beach Portraits
Don't leave without taking a few silly beach portraits, like this group shadow shot spotted on Craftionary. Grab a beach pail for this mock horror shot, or use distance to set up this awesome trick shot.
Find this on my Awesome Family Vacation Photos board.
Give Your Kid a Tattoo
Getting lost on a crowded beach is terrifying for kids and their parents. To be safe rather than sorry, write your cell phone number on a waterproof SafetyTat child ID tattoo, then apply to your child's skin. (We know parents that have written on their kids with a Sharpie. This is better.)
Buy on Amazon (seen at $11)
Pick a Spot Near a Lifeguard Stand
The easiest way for kids to find you amid a sea of beach towels and umbrellas is to choose a spot near a permanent landmark, such as a lifeguard stand. Then walk together to the water's edge and face your beach spot. Tell your child to take a mental picture of the lifeguard stand and your beach gear.
Teach kids that lifeguards are an exception to the don't-talk-to-strangers rule and to find one if they are ever lost or in trouble.
Speaking of lifeguards, they'll tell you that little kids tend to walk with the wind, so if your child wanders out of sight, start looking downwind.
Let the Sun Charge Your Gadgets Through a Window
The XD Design Solar Window Charger is an obvious boon to summer vacationers everywhere, since it can be stuck right to your window with the solar panels facing out, according to this review by Cool Mom Tech. In other words, it's perfect for the beach house or hotel room.
Keep Your Valuables Safe
If you've ever wondered how to keep your wallet and other valuables safe when you're at the beach, the Safego Portable Travel Lock Box Safe provides a convenient, affordable solution. You can use this durable lock box anywhere. Just toss your wallet, cash, keys, phone, camera, sunglasses, and other belongings inside and attach the Safego Safe to a secure fixture (such as a fence, bench, or lounge chair) with the attached flexible steel cable.