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Tips and Hacks for Your Next Beach Trip

Your Next Trip to the Beach

Trips to the beach can be enormous fun, especially when it's a trip to Ocean City, NJ. Making memories with friends and family is priceless, and enjoying relaxation and recreational time is something we all need.

However, when you're not prepared, a beach trip, well, is no day at the beach. To avoid disaster and ensure your next sand and surf trip is the best it can ever be, these beach trip tips and hacks are invaluable.

General Beach Tips and Hacks

When you're packing for your trip and taking a look at where you're going to stay, consider these tips:

• Carry a sand-free beach bag. Sand is so much fun when you're at the beach. However, it's a huge annoyance when you get home and find that it's covered virtually everything you own. With this in mind, try getting a mesh tote bag for carrying your things. Just give it a few shakes at the end of the day, and the sand will fall out.

• Pack some bug spray. Getting bitten by insects is no picnic, so don't get caught without bug spray in case the bugs are out.

• Add a flotation device (or cork) to your keys. This is a great way to ensure your keys don't sink to the bottom of the ocean's floor if you accidentally drop them.

• Learn how to identify rip currents. You can learn to spot a rip current by looking for a break in the incoming wave pattern, a line of debris, seaweed or foam steadily moving seaward, a channel of choppy, churning water or a notable difference in water color in a specific area. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, the annual number of fatalities due to rip currents on American beaches is over 100, so it's imperative to be aware of this natural threat.

• Learn how to avoid and get out of rip currents. It's good practice to only swim as beaches with lifeguard protection and obey all their orders and instructions. If you do get caught in a rip current, remain calm and don't fight the current. Instead, start swimming parallel to shore, and once you are out of the current, start swimming toward the shoreline. If this isn't possible, float or tread water. If this still doesn't work, wave and yell for help. Similarly, if you see someone in trouble, get the lifeguard immediately or call 9-1-1. Never jump in to save the person yourself.

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• Bring plenty of bags. Although they're not good for the environment, carrying plastic bags to the beach will ensure you have somewhere to collect your trash before you put it in the garbage. Alternatively, you can use a reusable bag you can dump your trash out of and wash.

• Pack lunches separately. Pack lots of small lunch containers. When you bring lots of food in separate containers, if one sandwich falls onto the sand, you will only lose that sandwich, and not the whole lot.

• Keep a dust broom in the car. Buy a soft-bristled dust broom from any hardware store and keep it for brushing down any last sand from your body, clothes and footwear before you set off for the drive home.

• Bring cupcake liners. Place cupcake liners over the top of your drinks. They can keep both bugs and sand at bay. Cupcake liners can also be used to catch drips from popsicles.

• Bring along any medications your family need. Remember to bring along any medications you or your family need, such as asthma inhalers, etc. It's imperative you don't forget to bring any important medications due to being overly focused on your beach preparations. You don't want to have a medical emergency while you're away from home.

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• Explore tidal pools. Taking a look at what's in tidal pools just after high tide is a wonderful activity no matter your age. You're likely to find snails, starfish and other assorted mollusks. These tidal communities are teeming with life, and as such, they should be respected. Tidal pools often form during low tides, so be sure to look at the tide schedule.

• Wear flip flops or water shoes in the water. To minimize the likelihood of getting cuts and grazes on your feet, wear flip flops or water shoes when walking along a stony shore.

• Bring a mineral water facial spray along with you. This will refresh your skin when it's feeling a little jaded by the sun.

• Slather on some baby oil if you've just shaved your legs. Salt water stings newly shaved skin. To combat this, try applying a layer of baby oil over your legs to keep them comfortable and sting-free throughout the day.

• Bring a yoga mat. If you value your comfort, lie on a yoga mat instead of a towel to enjoy its waterproof and cushioned comfort.

• Apply leave-in conditioner to your hair. Both the sun and salt water can cause damage to your hair, and they can harm your color, too. To combat this, use a leave-in conditioner that contains a UV protectant.

• Use lip balm. The sun, heat and salt water at the beach can dry your lips out, so ensure you regularly apply a lip balm containing SPF sun protection.

• Bring along your own homemade green tea face mist. Simply steep a green tea bag in a cup of cold water for a few hours, decant into a bottle and add some ice. This will refresh and cool your skin, and the antioxidants in the tea will also do you good. You can spray this on any area of your body, too — not just your face.

Going to the Beach With Kids 

Many of us have wonderful childhood memories of long summer days at the shore, and these times can be even more magical by knowing a list of beach trip tricks and hacks that work. As well as getting to the beach early so you have lots of playtime with your kids, you also need to keep the following in mind:

• Create a sponge lei. Before you go to the beach, get some thread and add pieces of sponge at regular intervals. If your kids get too hot, all they need to do is wet the necklace to cool down.

• Freeze water balloons. For a fun twist on freezing water bottles to keep your food cool, freeze water balloons instead, and when they thaw out, you can have a sure-to-be-fun water balloon fight!

• Bring a beach tent. Pop-up beach tents or shelters are perfect for when your little ones need some time out to rest. They're also ideal for keeping them out of the way of the elements. Too much sun, heat and wind can make babies (and adults) very cranky, so bringing along your own little safe area where everyone can rest and recharge is something you shouldn't forget under any circumstances.

• Bring along a washable cuddle toy. If you have young kids who still need to take naps, they'll settle far better for a sleep in the beach tent if you bring along their favorite stuffed animal or soft blanket from home. Having something familiar around them will help sleep come more quickly, therefore making them less irritable. A bonus point is that you can throw the toy into the wash when you get back home.

• Think about potty time. It's a great idea to buy a folding travel potty for your toddlers, so they can discreetly use it, even in the back of the car. Remember to bring along some good quality baggies to dispose of the potty contents when your little one is done using it — and don't forget to bring wipes and toilet paper.

• Plan for extra-hungry and thirsty kids. Enjoying playing on the beach is hungry, as well as thirsty, "work". It's important to bring along as much sustenance as possible for your children. Frozen juice cartons make awesome slushies once they start thawing. You'll also want to pack up your cooler with water and lots of healthy snacks like cheese sticks, apples, sliced oranges and grapes. Remember that your kids will likely make friends at the beach, too, so bring extra.

• Create a sand-free place to eat. Sand in your sandwiches is just not fun. Why not bring along a foldable table to eat at, complete with handy water bottle holders? You can likely find these at beach stores, camping supply stores or maybe even your local DIY store. Alternatively, you can eat in a bigger beach tent or even in your car — away from the elements.

• Pack your baby's necessities. Ensure you bring along more diapers than you think you'll need, as well as baby formula, water, a pacifier and so on. Even though you probably want to travel light, you'll always need more than you think you will when you've got baby with you. Remember also to bring adequate sunscreen for baby's skin, as well as a sun hat and a few tee shirts to protect their delicate skin from the sun's rays.

• Plan your haul. Especially if there are only one or two adults in your party and lots of kids, it's imperative to figure out how to get all your group's belongings from the car to the sand with the minimum amount of fuss. It's a good idea to purchase a rolling cart with tough wheels specifically for your beach visits. You can also load your beach gear in a laundry basket to make things easily cartable.

• Bring a blow-up pool. If you bring a small blow-up pool to the beach, it can act as a play yard to keep your kids in the one spot. They can happily play inside, make sandcastles and just generally have fun.

• Stay aware of waves. We all know that the best sand for making sandcastles is down by the ocean. However, be aware that little children can easily be swept away by big waves that can creep up to the shore. Always stay with your kids when they're anywhere near the water.

• Stay close to the lifeguard. When choosing your spot for the day, pick one near the lifeguard so if your kids get lost, they'll have a marker to find you. Just ensure you don't sit directly in front of the lifeguard's station so the guards can get a clear path to the water if an emergency occurs.

• Make a shell necklace. Often sea shells have natural holes in them, so bring some colorful thread. See if you and your kids can find some of those shells, and string them on your thread. Tie a knot before and after each shell to keep them in place. Then, tie the ends together, and it's ready to wear. This can be a fun break from playing in the sand — and you have a nifty and inexpensive souvenir.

• Design a "Zen" sandbox. Bring a shoebox to the beach, and when your kids get a bit demanding, divert their attention by asking them to create a beautiful sand, shell and stone garden for you.

• Encourage your children to be themselves. Once they reach the beach, encourage your children to just do what comes naturally and to have fun finding sea creatures in tidal pools, playing with the other kids and enjoying the water and sand. Being out in nature is soul-affirming and liberating, especially for city kids, who rarely see the ocean. Just keep a watch over your little ones, and enjoy seeing them playing outdoors, rather than in their bedrooms on their games consoles or tablets.

• Plan how you're going to make your exit. Ensure you give your kids plenty of notice about the time you're set to leave and begin collecting their things together well in advance so you can just pick up and go without any temper tantrums.

Sunscreen and Sunburn Tips and Hacks 

We all know of the importance of wearing a sunscreen whenever we're outside, as well as reapplying it frequently. However, it's easy to get burned, even if you think you're doing all the right things. In cases of severe sunburn, that causes extreme pain, nausea oTipr blisters, you should seek medical attention immediately.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, an estimated 90 percent of skin aging is caused by the sun. If your sunburn is minor, we have a few sunburn hacks that will help you soothe that pain and burn, as well as prevent your skin from peeling:

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• Chill your sunscreen. Keep your sunscreen in the cooler. That way, when you apply (and reapply), you'll help to cool down your body, too.

• Know when to apply and reapply sunscreen. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, you should apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to sun exposure and apply in one ounce portions — about a shot glass full. You should reapply the same amount every two hours. Remember to apply sunscreen on sunless days, too, because as much as 40 percent of the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays reaches our planet even on a totally cloudy day. Set your timer on your phone or write down the time to reapply on the sunscreen bottle using a marker.

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• Bring a spray bottle filled with even amounts of apple cider vinegar and water. For the first few hours and days after your skin gets burned, use this homemade mixture to calm the inflammation, as well as to alleviate your itch.

• Apply yogurt to your skin. On your way home from the beach, buy a plain probiotic yogurt and spread some thinly over your sore skin. Allow this to sit for ten minutes or so, and then gently wipe it off with a damp cloth.

• Apply raw honey. Spreading a thin layer of raw honey to your affected skin, then covering it with gauze for a while will help, as honey is a natural antiseptic.

• Bring some loose clothing. Ensure you wear loose clothing on your way home from the beach in case you have been sunburned and your clothes are exacerbating your red, tender and sore skin.

• Bring cold black tea to the beach. Dabbing cold black tea onto sunburn takes some of the sting out of your skin.

• Lay a baby wipe over your skin. You should always have baby wipes in your arsenal of beach gear, and all you need to do is to lay one over your sunburned skin for a few minutes to cool your sunburn temporarily.

Gather up Your Beach Gear and Head to Ocean City

A day at the beach can be so much fun for your entire family. Yes, it's no doubt taken a great deal of planning and preparation to get you and your family to the beach, but don't lose site of the fact that you're there to relax and to enjoy yourself. Release your inner child and delight in the feeling of freedom you will gain from the experience. Building sandcastles is not only fun for kids, it's entertaining for adults, too!

By being aware of all the hacks and tips for visiting the beach, you can turn a good time into a great time. Ready? Start planning your next beach trip to Ocean City, NJ today!