Tips for a Successful Family Beach Trip

Getaways to the beach are year-round for our family due to the relatively mild temperatures, but once May comes along, trips to the cool water are a complete necessity. Before having kids, my husband and I would put on our swimsuits, throw a few chairs in the trunk and hit the gas station in Port Aransas for snacks and drinks. Fast forward a few years, two young kids in tow and a family beach trip takes longer to plan than actually having our toes in the sand.

Lucky for everyone else, we have had a good amount of trial and error and, fingers crossed, our future trips will be as breezy as the palm trees in the wind.

Most Texas beaches allow for driving and parking right where you plan to spend the day, but if they do not or if they are too crowded, there are close parking lots. If you are staying at a hotel or a rental along the beach, you probably don’t want to get in the car either. Regardless of whether you drive or walk to your spot, I’m giving fair warning that you’ll likely be vacuuming out sand far after your return home.

The Perfect Family Beach Trip Set-up

1. A good umbrella or full popup canopy

Since having kids, this is our number one bulky item that we always bring down to the beach. Even with copious amounts of sunscreen, our fair skin needs a break from the sun after playing in the water and building sand castles. We go full on canopy with stakes, after many disastrous trips of chasing our umbrellas down with crazy coastal winds.

2. Beach blankets

We save the towels for wet bodies and lounge on easy to fold up beach blankets instead. My in-laws got us a beach/picnic blanket a few years ago and it’s held up through lots of foot traffic, high tides, and sand for days.

3. Cooler bags and ice chests

On days where we walk to the beach from our hotel, a cooler bag works well for a few hours’ worth of drinks and snacks. I love my bag from H-E-B; it zips and is lined for easy wipe downs. For longer, all day trips, a good ice chest is the way to go.

4. Collapsible wagon

My kids are at the combined weight limit for our wagon, but I still keep it in my trunk for transporting items. While the kids walk, I only have to make one trip across the boardwalk rather than my husband and I taking two.

The Best Beach Sun Protection

  1. Sunscreen for days

With skin that burns walking in a parking lot and genetics that have given my kids the same, we lather early, often, and with different products. The rule of thumb is to let it soak in for a good thirty minutes before heading out so I get to them with sunscreen lotion before they suit up. I also love face sticks for those hard to rub in areas around the eyes and nose. I try to get them back to reapply every two hours or after they are wet for a while. Rubbing lotion on sandy bodies is pure torture though so I do bring a good spray sunscreen as well to get my kids on the run.

2. Rash guards

The less exposure to the relentless sun, the better. On really warm days we opt for short-sleeved shirts and on cooler days we all get fashioned in long-sleeved rash guards. They do stay wet for a while so we always make sure to bring a shirt to put on once done being in the water if it is cool (early mornings or evenings). Bonus: I buy them all in super bright colors so that I can spot them more easily in the water.

3. Hats and sunglasses

My kids are not typically into wearing sunglasses but they are a must at the beach. Bucket hats and wide brimmed baseball hats are important as well. I have had a few scalp burns in my day and there is nothing like wanting to keep frozen washcloths on your head for days. If your kids will put up with them, try finding hats that tie on so they do not fly off while playing.

Keeping Everyone Full and Hydrated


No glass on the beach. I like to use refillable water bottles pre-filled with ice water, but water bottles are good as well. If you are using a cooler bag and not an ice chest, freezing juice boxes the night before and letting them naturally thaw will keep everything in the bag cool.


Sandy hands and sandy air make for quick eating skills. Pre-cut fruit like watermelon and apple slices with lemon will satisfy and replenish fluids. Sandwiches without mayo (turkey, cheese and mustard or peanut butter and jelly) are a great go-to.

Washing hands

Baby wipes FOREVER! Dry hands first and then wipe them with baby wipes, followed by another towel dry and fingers are clean.

I hope that you get to make memories on your own family beach trip this summer, if you have any additional tips please send them my way!

Emily lives in the hill country with her husband of over a decade, two young children and an array of animals. Texas has always been home but she loves to escape it( and the heat) frequently. Road trips were the excuse to buy a minivan, even though she still cannot park it in the lines. Emily is passionate about keeping our planet clean and it’s citizens happy, and instilling these values to her children. Happiness for herself is eating good food, playing games and quiet time to read, or at least go to the bathroom alone. Favorite Restaurant: Cured at The Pearl Favorite Landmark: The Zoo Train at Brackenridge Park Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Fiesta Art Fair