In honor of my itch to go to the beach, I wanted to do a post about beach must-have's and travel tips for toddlers. I feel like my BFF and I spent countless hours last year on the phone before departing trying to figure out what to bring, how much of everything to pack and debating about items and if we would really need them.
To preface, we rented a house for the week and had full intentions of cooking pretty much every meal, which we did stick to (the temptation to go out to eat is lessened greatly with the thought of doing it with 2 toddlers!) I guess this all depends on where you go, but we had been warned that food where we were heading to (Sea Isle City, NJ) was very expensive in local grocery stores, so we made up a menu for all of the days we were going to be there, then made up a grocery list and split it as best we could so that we each bought about half of the food. We included all of the food for dinners, as well as plenty of snacks, breakfast foods, lunches, etc.... A few days before we left, I made Crockpot Salsa Chicken, froze it and brought it along with us; this worked out well because it makes a ton of food, so we had enough for dinner one night and some leftovers for lunch. We brought coolers and packed lunches to eat on the beach everyday.
- Portable DVD Player: seriously, this thing was a lifesaver. Jake did great in the car for the first part of the trip...we left at 5:30, so he slept the first 2 hours, then we were able to keep him entertained with books, songs, etc.... Then, we hit massive traffic in Philly and bad things started to happen. Books were thrown, tears were shed....not a pretty sight. Finally, I turned on the magical feature presentation and Elmo's World saved the day. Bliss!
- Rash Guards/Sun Shirts/Whatever you want to call them....it was great not having to worry as much about the sun since he was much more covered than he would have been in just swim shorts.
- Booster Seat: I think this is a good thing to have anyway, but it was very handy on vacation. I'm sure you can rent high chairs in vacation areas, but this thing is pretty compact and we've used it a lot since then.
- Baby Powder: I don't know how it works, but somehow, sprinkling a bit of baby powder on areas where sand is stuck to skin makes it magically brush right away! We kept some in the garage of the house we were staying in and just powdered him up outside, rinsed with a hose and toweled him off....ta-da! The sand disappears much easier than trying to scrape it all off.
- A few bathing suits/swim shorts: We had about 4 pairs of swim shorts for Jake and I was happy to have them...we fell into a pattern of going to the beach all morning, eating lunch on the beach, then heading back to the house around 12:30 for nap time. Most of the time, we would then head back down to the beach after nap, so I needed another pair of shorts to put on him since the others were always still damp (and EWWW, who wants to put damp clothes back on??)
- A beach cart: our house had one that we were able to use and it was wonderful. We hauled so much stuff down to the beach everyday (lunches, toys, 2 toddlers, towels, beach chairs, etc....) that we probably would have had to make more than 1 trip, even with 4 adults. We were able to get most of the stuff into the cart and it even had a handle where you could hang beach chairs....genius!
- If you need to use a crib, I would highly suggest doing some research to see if there are any local crib rentals available. This was a lifesaver to us, as we have a small car and those pack & plays take up an obnoxious amount of space. The company that we used offered pick up and drop off service, the cribs were on wheels so we just slid them right into the boys' rooms and ta-da! Just like home, no headache. I think they were around $40 for the week....worth every penny! Just don't forget to bring your own sheets!
- Pack lightly on the toys....maybe it was a bit different because Jake had his buddy Ben there to play with, but aside from a few books, a ball and a truck....we didn't really need much in the way of toys. Same thing for beach toys....a truck, a football and some basics (shovel and bucket) and we were set.
Until next time, Jersey Shore!