We recently got back from a week long beach vacation to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina (if you missed that recap, you can check it out here!). I was extremely nervous going into this trip because it was our first vacation with TWO very active toddlers. Oliver had been to the beach before, but he has no fear of the ocean and no idea how to swim. You can see how that might make me a little nervous.
I was comforted by the fact that we were with my whole family. Extra eyes on two very busy babies is never a bad idea!
Overall, the kids had such a fun time at the beach! And while I would definitely not go so far as to say it was relaxing (pretty sure that’s not a thing with 2 littles), we were really well prepared. It went so smoothly, so I wanted to share what I consider to be necessities for a successful toddler beach trip!
*I do just want to note that you may not find all of this stuff necessary! Especially if your hotel is right off of the beach and you have easy access to your room. We were a mile from our hotel, so when we packed for the beach, we were packing for the whole day! Also just a note that some of these links may be affiliate links, which means I get a teeny tiny commission if you purchase through them. Thanks for supporting this lil blog! (Read my full disclosure policy here if you have questions!)
Necessities for a toddler beach trip
This is the wagon we bought, and I’m tellin ya. Best. Investment. Ever. I’m not joking y’all, we were on the boardwalk to get to the beach and Dan said, “I am SO glad we bought this wagon!” With babies comes stuff. Gone are the days of grabbing a book and a towel and hitting the sand. Now there are chairs and towels and more towels and snacks and bags and diapers and changes of clothes, etc. etc. Please imagine trying to haul all of that, while wrangling an excited 3 year old and 1 year old. Just don’t do it. It’s an investment, but we didn’t regret it at all. We also used it for the farmer’s market the next weekend, so I know this won’t be limited to just beach use!
Canopies might be one of those things you can go without if you are close to your room. We, however, had this as a non-negotiable. We were hoping the kids would nap at the beach (they did), and having a canopy gave us the ability to lay them on towels in the shade. It also let them play in the shade and sit out of the sun to eat lunch and snacks. With how hard the Blackmon babies beach, it was important to get them out of the sun! Umbrella’s just don’t provide quite enough shade for our whole family, so this type of canopy is perfect.
I know what you’re thinking. Duh, Alex. Obviously. I’m adding this in here to basically let you know this. If you have two kids, get two sets of beach toys. Have two buckets. Two shovels. We know Zoey will just sit and fill a bucket all day long. We also know Oliver instinctively feels the need to have whatever Zoey has. The argument wasn’t worth it, so we bought some cheap toys at 5 Below. Problem solved, and a more relaxing beach trip was had for all.
Towels, Towels, and more Towels
Now might be a good time to mention that this list is not for the minimalist. Listen, kids at the beach equals a nonstop battle against sand and water. My kids love playing in the sand, but guess what they hate. Sandy hands. We were constantly cleaning their hands with water and having to dry them off. Guess what my opinionated 3 year old doesn’t want when he’s cold and wet? A wet towel. Just take the two extra towels. Thank me later.
I know. You’re thinking duh again. But seriously, do not take this one lightly. Kids who play hard eat A LOT. And, as previously mentioned, they are a nonstop torrent of sand and water. Meaning I wanted snacks that were easily accessible and easy for them to eat. We don’t do a ton of pouches at home because I can generally buy whole tubs for cheaper, but lemme say. Pouches at the beach are your bestie. We also did individual snack packs (thanks Gigi) which we never do, but turns out, it’s brilliant. We pre-made baggies of food so we weren’t having to put anything in bowls or worry about them holding an entire bag. PB&J for lunch was easy and cheap for a day at the beach. Whatever you do, just pack more than you think you’ll need. Again, this may not be necessary if you’re staying right off of the beach and can head to your room for a snack break!
You know how toddlers have this amazing ability to create trash upon trash? That doesn’t stop at the beach. It was so much easier to take a plastic bag to throw all the wipes, pouches, baggies, what-have-you, and then throw that away at the end of the day. Saved multiple trips up to a trash can and alleviated finding trash in the bottom of our beach bags for the rest of the year.
I know some of these may seem obvious, but people seemed really interested in knowing what helped us have an extremely smooth beach trip with two busy toddlers! There are definitely some other, smaller things= lots of diapers and swimmies, we took a comb for Zoey’s hair, hats and baby sunblock. Basic beach stuff! I know it’s late in the season, but hopefully this is helpful for any upcoming beach trips or for next year!
Have a phenomenal day!