Traveling with Kids to The Beach: All the Gear You Need
Warm waves and beachy weather are calling. For many of us, that means packing up and boarding an airplane to your warm-weather destination. We did just that on a recent trip to Costa Rica, along with our five-year-old son, plus another family and their three-year-old and newborn (brave travelers!). Our destination was a remote surf break on the Osa Peninsula. Our packing list was not light and fast, it was more along the lines of heavy and bogged down—but that’s kind of the deal with kids. Despite the challenge of “bringing it all” we were rewarded with an incredible trip for both the parents and the kiddos.
My number one rule for luggage is that it must have wheels. Our checked luggage quiver included two Burton Wheelie Sub 116L Travel Bags. These bags include the unique feature of splitting in two to avoid overweight charges … just in case. Plus, you can connect the two bags piggyback style using the “SnakeStack strap” in case you run out of hands. Our surfboards were packed in a Dakine World Traveler Surfboard Coffin with wheels, which we borrowed from friends. On board, we brought a Burton Multipath 40L carry-on travel bag, which was packed with toys and snacks and under the command of the five-year old who was either slowly rolling it through the airport or riding it cowboy-style. Knowing the roller bag would be seeing some action, we also brought the Burton Multipath 27L travel backpack, which has great internal organization for laptop, iPad and headphones, plus easily accessible pockets on either side to hold our reusable water bottles. This was our first trip without a stroller, in the past we had used a super compact Mountain Buggy Nano that folds up and fits in the overhead bin. Thankfully we’re on the other side now. But … we still had to bring a car seat. For this trip we borrowed a car seat backpack, which was a lifesaver and a major upgrade from the awkward stuff sack style bag we had been using previously.
Packing for warmer climates is way easier than cold ones, but don’t overlook the advances in kids sun protection clothing and quick-drying fabric that can make life easier and prevent sunburns. Patagonia and Columbia make great fast-drying UPF sun shirts for toddlers and babies. We love Patagonia's Capilene Cool Daily Sun Hoodie, size up and these will last for multiple seasons. Likewise for Columbia’s Kids’ Sandy Shores Long Sleeve Sunguard Shirt, both are UPF 50 offering sunscreen-free sun protection. Bonus, these shirts are fast-drying. In the water, we opt for the tighter-fitting Volcom Rash Guards, these UPF 50 shirts come in both long or short sleeves, they’re great for swimming and playing in the water and they fit under lifejackets. We also looked to Volcom for kids boardshorts and the fast-drying Surf N’ Turf line of everyday shorts, which are also quick drying and double as swim trunks in a pinch. And finally, we packed a kids North Face Stormy Rain Triclimate Jacket, because, well, it's the rainy season.
We packed all of this into Eagle Creek Pack-It Reveal Cubes. It’s so nice to have clothing in these different sized cubes, so you can “unpack” throughout the trip without really having to take everything out of the individual bags. I also use these cubes to contain toys and snacks in our carry-on roller bag.
We packed plenty of thinkBaby Reef-safe sunscreen and kid-safe (Deet-free) Greenerways Organic Bug Repellant bug spray.
At The Beach
While inflatables can be fun toys at the beach, it’s a great idea to pack a life jacket. We brought one for playing in the surf and swimming out past the waves and even surfing with mom and dad (check out the lifejackets Emily Jackson suggests for her whitewater kayaking kiddos). For footwear, we opted for Keen river sandals, we also packed beach shoes, because reef and rocks. For eye protection, we loaded in a couple pairs of Kids Knockaround UV sunglasses and kids Speedo swim goggles which come in models with UV protection, as well as protecting against the sting of hyper-chlorinated pools. And finally, our favorite beach toy, the Surfer Dudes mini surfers—a surefire way to tire out any kid.
One more note, we all brought reusable water bottles. We also brought along a large Sawyer water filter and a Steripen to treat the tap water so we weren’t buying plastic bottled water. And that, my friends, is all the stuff we loaded into those two massive Wheelie subs.
Annie Fast writes about winter sports and outdoor adventures from her home in Bend, Oregon.You can read more about her and her work at anniefast.com
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