10 Tips for Beach Vacations with Toddlers

10 Tips for Beach Vacations with Toddlers

Over the 4th of July weekend, Todd and I took the girls (ages 3.5 and 21.5 months) on a vacation to the Sandestin Resort in Destin, FL. We were so excited because we had only taken the girls to the beach once before and the weather was pretty terrible on that trip. We had high expectations for our time away, especially since both girls are now walking, and overall, the trip didn’t disappoint.  There were a few lessons learned (the hard way), though, and I’ve compiled the Top 10 for you below!

  1. Apply Sunscreen Before You Get There
    By the time you get out to the beach and whip out the sunscreen bottle, your children will inevitably already be covered in sand, making it quite difficult to apply lotion or spray of any kind. Do it before you get there. Trust me.
  2.  Don’t Try to Be Cute. 
    I had this vision delusion of rocking my floppy beach hat and cover-up in the sand and taking a picture or two at the shore like all the other blogging moms out there. Yeah, no. I was a sweaty mess, the hat kept falling in my eyes, I tied my hair up minutes after arrival, my sunglasses kept sliding down my nose, and my time was spent making sure my kids didn’t drown or eat sand. Don’t waste your effort, ladies.
  3. Don’t Bring a Book
    See above. Your time will be spent making sure your kids don’t drown or eat sand. Save the much-needed space in your beach bag. There will be no “relaxing” at the beach with children. All reading material got left at the house after Day 1.
  4. Set Up by the Water
    You’re going to spend the entire time by the water so there’s no reason to set up a tent, chairs, etc. anywhere but right at the shoreline. We made this mistake the first day but quickly saw the error of our ways.
  5. Naps Trump Everything
    No one wants to be on vacation with cranky, overstimulated, tired kids. Make sure they nap when they’re supposed to if you want to maintain your sanity.
  6. Leave When You’re Gut Tells You To
    You may find yourself saying, “Oh, we’re having a great time; they can last a little longer before nap time.” No. See above. Naps trump everything. If you think it’s time to leave, leave. On Day 1, Todd said he thought Sweet E was getting tired and we should go. I said we could stay a few more minutes. Well, he was right; she expired. When it was time to go, she had a full-on temper tantrum. In the sand. That’s right, face down, losing her mind, in the sand. I’ve never been more thankful that she wears glasses {eye protection from sand}. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Save yourself.
  7. Sand. Everywhere. 
    It will take you what feels like days to clean all of the sand off of your children; diapers collect a lot. I read somewhere that baby powder helps with this but didn’t know it at the time.
  8. Chain Restaurants are Your Friend
    Sure, you’re on vacation and want to try something new, and you should. But, if it’s late and your kids are hungry, the neighborhood Applebee’s {or wherever} is a great place to visit. You already know what’s on the menu and that it’s kid-friendly. And, since it’s an {evil} chain restaurant, there won’t be a wait. Winning all around.
  9. You’ll Do Laundry Everyday
    Which means you only need half as many clothes as you think you will. If there are a washer and dryer in your rental and you use your own beach towels, there will be lots of laundry. Don’t pack a lot.
  10. You’ll Make Amazing Memories
    It’s been two weeks and Lady A is still talking about the “beach house” and all the fun we had. I took hundreds of photos and will hold our beach fun in my heart forever. We had the best time and I can’t wait to do it again.

What are some of the lessons you’ve learned at the beach with your kids? Share them below!


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  1. Lili
    August 11, 2016 / 11:46 pm

    Reading your blog for the first time and it is amazing how much moms can relate to each other so much. Congratulations on you blog, it is GREAT! We’re planning going to the beach for Labor Day weekend, so these tips and your other post about the “must have items” are excellent. Thanks.

    • August 12, 2016 / 12:01 am

      Thank you, Lili! So glad you stopped by! Have fun at the beach!!

      • Lili
        August 12, 2016 / 1:02 pm

        Thanks will let you know how we use the tips. And I’m sharing them with few other moms. By the way we live in GA as well (moved a year ago), so still exploring.

  2. August 11, 2016 / 9:38 pm

    I literally LOL’d to the “don’t try to be cute” comment – that is ME to a T. haha.

    • August 12, 2016 / 12:02 am

      I learned that lesson REAL quick! LOL

  3. July 19, 2016 / 10:14 am

    Wow thats a lot to remember! I don’t have children of my own but I’m taking my nephews on vacation in a few weeks and I will have to keep these in mind! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • July 19, 2016 / 11:37 am

      Oh how fun! Nephews are the best, aren’t they? Have a great time!

  4. July 19, 2016 / 8:39 am

    Wonderful tips, thanks for sharing! I will need to remember these when we go away next winter!

    • July 19, 2016 / 9:32 am

      You’re welcome! Where are you headed?

  5. acreageofgrace
    July 18, 2016 / 10:27 pm

    Great tips! I just love your writing style “face down, losing her mind, in the sand” I feel like I’m talking to my bffs when I read your blog. So refreshing and fun! Keep it up girl!

    • July 18, 2016 / 10:29 pm

      That’s the best compliment you could ever give me! Thank you, Abigail!

  6. July 18, 2016 / 9:48 pm

    Awesome list! We have yet to experience the beach again since LO was four months old. He loved it then, but was slightly easier to deal with

    • July 18, 2016 / 10:28 pm

      Thank you! It will definitely be different!

  7. July 18, 2016 / 3:44 pm

    YES! Spot on list. We live 2 hours from the coast, so we have been frequenting the beach quite a bit this summer now that both my kiddos are walking, and I’ve learned the hard way on many of these items myself. Definitely don’t want to even bother with a book OR looking cute. And yes to naptime. ALWAYS! 😉

    • July 18, 2016 / 4:12 pm

      Ah, parenthood. The things we learn the hard way are hysterical. Thanks for the read!

  8. July 18, 2016 / 2:58 pm

    This list is so relatable! The floppy hat! Ha! I so wanted to get one this year, but remembered what vacationing with the littles is really like. And, I still mourn the loss of bringing a book to the beach … Great post!

    • July 18, 2016 / 4:11 pm

      Thanks! The hat was cute while it lasted! Hahaha!

  9. July 18, 2016 / 12:59 pm

    OMG!! All things I wish I would have known before traveling with my son!! You find out the hard way. FOR SURE!

    • July 18, 2016 / 1:07 pm

      Me, too, girl! Me, too!!

  10. July 18, 2016 / 11:49 am

    Haha I hear you girl! We our at our first beach holiday know and my god, learning so much! So yes to the sunscreen, not looking cute and not bringing a book….

    • July 18, 2016 / 12:04 pm

      Never a dull moment! Save the “cuteness” for when the kids aren’t around, right?!

  11. JugglingMother
    July 18, 2016 / 9:41 am

    Great list – been there with four sandy kids! I always have a lot of great pictures in my head of how things will be on vacation – the actual picture is often more like a cartoon! Now my kids are older and we just returned from the Bahamas. No, I did not bring a book, everyone got too much sun on at least one part of their body and we brought home lots of photos, memories and sand IN our dirty laundry!

    • July 18, 2016 / 10:02 am

      Sounds like you had a blast! Definitely the makings of a great trip. I did a final load of laundry the night before we came home so that unpacking would be easy and I didn’t have loads of chores waiting for me — since reentry is difficult enough as it is. Have a great week!

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