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Mom's guide to packing the perfect beach bag

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

Beach bound? Get packing!

Bag, sunscreen, book, toys ... What are the must-haves for beach bags this summer? Read on to find out!

Mom with beach bag

Are you and the kids planning a beach day soon? It's the perfect time of year for a trip to your local sandy spot for a little fun. The kids are sure to thank you for the great day had by all.

Ready to pack up to go? Whether splashing in the water, playing on the sand or relaxing in a chair is your speed, these must-haves will help you pack the perfect bag for your excursion.

Perfect beach bags

First things first: what will you carry your gear in? Here are a few good options.

Bring a bit of the sea to the beach with you with a very cool bag made from recycled sails - Yes, sails from boats! Isn't that fun? Check out the Large Custom House Gull Bag (SeaBags.com, $145), which is a great, roomy tote for all your beach supplies. Measuring at 14-inches by 18-inches, it comes in navy and red.

Looking for something a little more affordable? Check out the classic large-size Open-Top Boat and Tote Bag from LL Bean (llbean.com, $24.95), which is tough, durable and sturdy -- perfect for the rough and tumble of beach-going. The large size measures at 15-inches by 17-inches, and can come with standard 8-inch handles or long 14-inch handles.

For an inexpensive option, check out the Merona Printed Canvas Tote in Pink from Target (target.com, $12.99). It's 14-inches by 14-inches and comes in a vibrant pattern that is perfect for those sunny days by the sea.

Beach toys

Green Toys Dump Truck

The kids need things to play with while they play by the sea, so be sure to pack some good ones to keep them busy. Here are a few great ideas.

Does your kid love trucks? Then pick up the Green Toys Dump Truck (fatbraintoys.com, $22.95) for a great time. Kids can load up the bed with sand or shells and truck it all over the place. Best of all? It's made with all recycled milk jugs.

A playset like the Complete Sand & Water Beach Play Set (amazon.com, $9.98) has everything kids need for summer fun. It includes a watering can, shovel-sieve, spade, rake, molds and more.

If you are in the market for something super simple, like a classic sand bucket and shovel, then check the $1 racks at Target, CVS and similar stores. They are usually pretty durable and will be fantastic for collecting shells, building castles and whatever else your kids want to do.

Cozy towels

You're going to need towels for any beach trip. Whether you need to dry the kids off or lay belly down on one, having a good cotton towel is a must.

Looking for something cozy and luxurious? Check out the Vertical Rugby Stripe Beach Towel (landsend.com, $15). The plush towel has short loops so that it won't snag easily. And it's six feet long, so it's perfect for laying on too.

Another great choice? The Basic 2-pc. Dot Beach Towel Set in Pink from Target (target.com $11.99). The five-foot-long towels are affordable and pretty ... and they are durable enough to dry you off all summer long.

Beach reads

Don't forget a good book! That's a must in every beach bag.

  • Dune RoadDune Road by Jane Green - Just released in May, this book follows a recently-divorced mother as she starts over in a posh Connecticut town by the beach. Kit Hargrove is forced to face reality in her search for her perfect career, new love and a new life. It will keep you entertained while you dig your toes into the sand.
  • The One That I Want by Allison Winn Scotch - This third novel from Allison Winn Scotch has a wonderful what-if premise. What if your perfect present was about to become very unperfect in the near future? The main character, Tilly Farmer, is a 30-something who is married to her high school sweetheart and still lives in their Washington hometown. When she is given the gift of foresight by an old friend, she sees that her life is about to take a major turn. What happens when what you think is your perfect life turns totally on its head?
  • The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd - Published in 2006, this is an oldie but goodie. A middle aged woman returns home to care for her mother. While there, she explores a number of emotional and physical questions relating to her life, marriage and her father ... It's a thought-provoking read, for sure.

What else?

This surely can't be it, right? It's not. Here are a few more things to remember to pack:

  • sunscreen
  • sunglasses for all
  • ice water and cups
  • wipes
  • snacks (granola bars, fruit, etc)
  • a plastic bag (for the wet clothes)

More tips for a fun summer:

 


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