What to bring for a family day at the beach

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Packing for a day at the beach sounding a little daunting?

We understand; you want to be prepared for all possibilities so you bring… a lot. What if it’s too hot? Too cold? Too buggy? Too muggy? What if we get hungry? Thirsty? Sunburned? Bored? Tired? When all scenarios are accounted for, you might as well rent a U-Haul to accompany you and your family for a day at our beautiful South Strand beaches.

So how to pack a better beach bag? Bring only the essentials and make do without the rest. Here’s how.

1) Assume a few things. You will get thirsty, you will need sunblock, you’ll likely get wet, you will be sitting for a while. What does that mean? Bring enough water for all family members to stay adequately hydrated for a full day in the sun —for a family of four, that could mean a couple of gallons. Bring high-SPF, waterproof and sweat proof sunscreen that’s easy to apply, and use it often (make sure babies have a gentle formula). Pack towels, one for each person, and have a few lightweight folding beach chairs on hand. You likely won’t need one for each of you. It will work out that between swimming, castle-building and lounging on towels, your family can take turns.

2) Prepare for a few more. Fair skinned, quick to overheat or in the company of small children and babies? Consider a beach umbrella. Some nearby municipalities have banned beach tents, and while this isn't the case (yet) in Pawleys/Litchfield, they’re still a real drag to haul around. Decent umbrellas, however, are lightweight, easy to use and affordable (or better yet, rentable:), and will be worth any transport hassle the minute you find some cooling relief in its shade. Also assume your brood will get hungry, so pack minimally packaged foods that won’t melt, spoil, spill or break in a million pieces. Think pre-made PB&Js, apples and bananas, bags of non greasy chips or pretzels and juice boxes. Consider packing lunches and snacks in reusable plastic containers instead of baggies. The latter often wind up windswept into the ocean, where it is a major pollutant. The containers, when empty, can store sticky sunblock bottles, collected shells or wet swimsuits. Ensure everyone has a beach cover-up, hat, sunglasses and sandals (upgrade to some cute new duds here), and make sure babies have enough diapers (swim or otherwise) to last a day.

3) Minimize gear. Never underestimate the high entertainment value of swimming, shelling, strolling, people watching or simply basking in the sunshine. Leave the gadgets in the hotel—they’re too hard to see in the sun and also at the mercy of being ruined by the elements. Opt for a paperback book over a heavy hardcover or flimsy, easily-blown-away magazines, and have kids pack one beach-friendly toy apiece; we’re thinking a Frisbee, foam football or a pail and shovel. Young kids unable to swim should have Coast Guard-approved wearable flotation devices available nearby in Myrtle Beach.

4) Tote it all. Canvas or mesh tote bags tend to be heavy duty and lightweight; for the fashion conscious, try the oh-so cute Scout Bags at the Palmetto Ace here in town. Feeling a bit pack mule-ish? Consider renting a beach caddy with wheels and a strap for the heaviest items. Find one in nearby Myrtle Beach for $40 for a week. To keep food and beverages cold, a cooler is always handy —even more handy when strapped to that caddy.

5) Forget some stuff. Remember, the following are not allowed on beaches: alcohol, glass bottles, weapons, house pets (unless a service animal) and fireworks. Check the town website of your chosen beach to get the skinny on all regulations.

What are your family beach day essentials for Litchfield Beach?


(Posted: 3/5/15)