Sandcastle building, swimming, and lounging in the sun: a beach trip is truly summer at its best. Don’t let your next trip bum you out, though: we’ve got ways to make sure you stay cool, protect your assets and even keep sand out of your car (well, kinda). Click through the gallery for 14 ideas that will make your next trip to the beach so much easier.

Chill the Sunscreen

Once you’ve lathered your kid up, stash the sunscreen in the cooler, where it will be nice and cool for the next application. You’ll lower his body temperature and keep him sun safe at the same time, and grown-ups will enjoy this welcome chill, too.

Four Corners

Keeping home base grit-free while at the beach can be a challenge, so if you want to create a large, clean space for your kiddos, try Team Johnson’s idea. Bring an old sheet, and using a cooler, beach bags, or even an umbrella, stretch out the corners, and you’ll have a pretty sweet pad.

Bag Your Phone

The challenge: keep sand and water off of your phone but still be able to use it. The solution: A humble Ziploc or similar zipping sandwich bag. Seriously, this works (although you do have to take it out to get a cute photo or two).

Sand Sifter

Heading surfside means toting the gear your kids will need for sand castle construction, burying siblings, making beach art, and other fun games, but when it’s time to pack up and ship out, the bottom of your bag looks like the beach came along for the ride. Not anymore, thanks to The Idea Room's sweet hack. Putting all of the toys in a mesh laundry basket gives dried sand an escape route, and there’s major bonus points for being big enough to pack your kiddo’s entire supply of beach toys.

Stash Your Cash

Use an empty Pringles can tucked among your snacks to stash your keys and some cash for ice cream. (Bonus! You get to eat all the Pringles first!) An old sunscreen container cleaned out can look equally inconspicuous. Keep it compact by stashing a $20 in a lip balm container: watch this video for an easy how-to. Want to really thwart thieves? Roll your cash and keys upside a diaper—very few people will willingly pick up a "dirty" diaper.

Dig Yourself a Hole

A long day at the beach means your little one will need a comfy place to nap. Before you have visions of dragging a pack ‘n’ play over the dunes, consider digging a hole. Yes, just dig a shallow, wide hole, lay down a towel, and, after a little rocking, place your wee one down. Be sure to angle your umbrella just right, to ensure your kiddo has a shady spot for her snooze-fest.

Sand Baggies

Days at the beach can get pretty windy! There’s a simple way to keep the family supply of towels from blowing in the breeze; grab a few plastic bags (quart size should work) and, while setting up camp, fill the bags with sand, then seal and set on the corners of the towels and blankets. Your little plot will stay secure, and the days of flinging sand on your crew and your neighbors will be over.

Double Duty Balloons

Add color and fun to your cooler by filling it up with frozen water balloons. They'll keep the snacks cool, and at the end of the day you can choose between two options: refreeze and use again, or, a killer water balloon fight. You can probably guess which option the kids will choose! Be sure you pick up any scraps of exploded balloons to make sure animals don't eat them. Find out more about this cool idea over at Brit Co.

Frozen Water Bottles

While you’re freezing things, freeze a few plastic water bottles and put them in the cooler. They’ll last longer than ice and when they defrost you can drink them. Bonus: you can roll the icy cold bottle on your neck to cool down. Just remember to recycle them after you’re done: studies show freezing and refreezing disposable plastic water bottles can cause a chemical breakdown that could contaminate the water.  And don’t try this trick with metal bottles because they can burst when the water expands.

Beached Boat

All kiddies want to wade in the surf, but taking a dip in the ocean isn’t always the safest choice. Here's one idea for letting your little ones have fun in the water; bring a small blow up raft, fill it with water, their favorite toys, and presto! Baby beachcombers get to splash around as much as they want, and you get to keep a close eye on them.

Drink Up

If you are determined to keep your drinks from spilling into the sand this summer, try making a few of these nifty cup holders we spotted over at The Homes I Have Made. Ideal for keeping cups and bottles clean and positioned at the perfect height, you’ll need a few simple materials including: a large soup can, fabric, glue, and a threaded rod. Sail over to The Homes I Have Made for the tutorial.

Dust 'Em Off

We know your little beach bums can’t get enough of making sand castles, digging for seashells, and burying their friends alive, but what happens when the day is over? How do you clean off all of these tiny specs of sand? With baby powder, of course; just sprinkle it over tiny fingers and toes, and you’ll see the sand fall off like magic.

Sunburn Soothers

Sunburns are one of the few thing parents don’t enjoy about frolicking in the sand and surf, so when it does happen, soothing the fiery feeling is priority number one. If you’re looking for a more creative way to help little burned bods, try making a batch of super cool aloe vera ice cubes like the ones we spotted over at The Chic Site. The cooling effect of the ice, along with the classic healing properties of the aloe vera will bring immediate relief to the most painful of sunburns.

After-Beach Care for Babes

In spite of your best efforts, your little ones sometimes get a bit too much sun. Soothe their burns and any bites or itches by adding a few drops of apple-cider vinegar to the post-beach bath.

 

Do you have any beach hacks to share? Tell us in a comment below!

—Natasha Davis & Amber Guetebier

 

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