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Oct 21, 2023

I Go to the Beach a Dozen Times a Year, and This Is What I Always Pack for a Family Trip — All Under $50

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From foldable blankets to umbrellas to sand toys and more, starting at just $9.

Travel + Leisure / Tyler Roeland

One of the biggest perks of living in Southern California is being able to hit the beach at almost all times of the year. With summer practically here, I know my family of five will soon be logging in even more beach time to beat the heat. Over the years, we’ve really been able to whittle down what started out as a massive car trunk packed with things to only the true essentials necessary for a perfect beach day.

Now, we’re ready to hit the sand at a moment's notice. From the comfiest beach chairs to boogie boards that keep the kids entertained, these are my must-haves for the perfect family beach day — all under $50 right now.

Amazon

This extra large beach mat/picnic blanket/anything you want it to be pretty much has a permanent home in my car at all times. It's water-resistant, folds up easily into itself (complete with a handle to make for easy carrying), and fits several people comfortably. And when you’re done with a day at the beach, simply shake all the sand off and you’re done. I actually have two of these that have been used endlessly at the beach, the park, and even indoors.

To buy: amazon.com, $30

Amazon

Weighing in at just 5.3 pounds, these Coleman Beach Chairs are a beach day staple. Their low profile makes for comfortable lounging. It has a seatback pocket to stash sunscreen, books, and magazines, and a cup holder, and even comes with a carry case with strap to slip the chair in. One 6’3" reviewer shared that it was "comfortable" for them, while another said they were 5’2" and that the chairs are "great" for them. Another reviewer, who has seven kids in their family, revealed that they’d owned these "durable" chairs since 2018 and that "they are still going strong."

To buy: amazon.com, $43

Amazon

No beach day with kids is complete without some sand creations. This 18-piece Click N Play Beach Toy Set comes with everything kids — and adults — need to make some epic sand castles including a sand bucket, shovels, a rake, a watering can, and various molds. It comes in its own mesh backpack to make clean-up a breeze so sand doesn't follow you all the way home.

To buy: amazon.com $17 (originally $25)

Amazon

Reapplying sunscreen is a must on sunny (and even not-so-sunny) beach days, and nothing beats the convenience of a spray sunscreen. We’ve been using this Sun Bum SPF 50 Spray Sunscreen for years and have found it's effective, easy to spray on and spread, and is hypoallergenic for those of us with more sensitive skin. As an added bonus, it smells great.

To buy: amazon.com, $16

Amazon

In addition to the spray sunscreen, I also always have a mineral sunscreen on hand for little kids. The Sonrei Kids Zinq Mineral Gel Sunscreen is awesome because it goes on like a gel and leaves no white cast like many of the other mineral sunscreens we’ve been through. Because of the gel consistency, it absorbs easily, dries clear, and doesn't require lots of harsh rubbing, which is the last thing anyone wants to do during a beach day. I primarily use this on faces, so a little goes a long way here.

To buy: amazon.com, $40

Amazon

Boogie boards plus kids equals hours of play in the ocean. This best-selling boogie board is super lightweight and so easy to toss in your trunk. It comes with a wrist leash to ensure it doesn't get lost in the ocean and several reviewers noted that it's a great size for both kids and adults. We have two to avoid kids fighting over who gets a turn.

To buy: amazon.com, $36

Amazon

I love that this insulated cooler backpack is easy to carry and fits so much more than you’d think. Specifically, it can fit up to 30 cans or a variety of snacks, sandwiches and cans, and even has exterior pockets on the side to fit two bottles of wine (or water.) There's even an insulated zipper pocket on the top to stash smaller things like candy that you don't want to melt. Best of all, it's under $30.

To buy: amazon.com, $29

Amazon

To spend a long day at the beach, shade is key. This seven-foot umbrella comes with sand anchors to keep it steady even in windy weather and has a two-way tilting mechanism so you can block the sun no matter which way it's facing. It has more than 1,600 five-star ratings at Amazon with many reviewers praising its "great quality." One person shared that on a super windy Florida beach day, "between the anchor and the tilt ability, this thing was taking the wind like a champ."

To buy: amazon.com, $50 (originally $59)

Zappos

A good hat is a must, even on overcast beach days. As someone who's had multiple hats blown away by a strong wind, I love that this woven hat comes with a neck strap to keep it secure. It comes in three colors and has an internal wire to keep the brim angled however you need it.There's a soft liner and sweatband that are UPF 50 to keep your head safe from the sun's rays.

To buy: zappos.com, $48

Amazon

If reapplying sunscreen all day long isn't your cup of tea, a rash guard is a great solution. I have this exact Roxy Rash Guard and can attest that the UPF 50 fabric actually works, no sunburn in sight. It also washes easily after being exposed to both salt water and chlorinated pool water, and has retained its shape several years later.

To buy: amazon.com, $40

Target

Get sand off sticky feet and legs before getting back in the car easily with this beach hack: sprinkle some talc powder wherever sand is stubbornly sticking on and gently rub and, voila, the sand magically comes off. I always have a bottle of this in one of the car side pockets in an attempt to minimize the amount of sand that comes back home with us.

To buy: target.com, $9

Amazon

A day at the beach inevitably means you’ll have some wet or sandy clothes to bring back home with you. I’ve had this exact Skip Hop Wet Dry Bag for more than six years, and it's still as good as new, and gets used weekly over the summer season. Stash wet swimsuits, sandy toys, or even stray seashells in here to toss straight in the laundry or garage when you get home.

To buy: amazon.com, $18

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