While I’ve never been in the ocean, I’ve spent time almost every summer of my life at the beach, enjoying the long sandy shoreline along Lake Michigan.
Over the years, I’ve developed an arsenal of strategies to maximize the fun of these trips while minimizing any potential inconvenience. However, even I found some new tips and tricks while writing this article.
Whether you’re heading to the ocean, the Great Lakes or a local watering hole, here are 15 beach hacks to try this year.
1. Use a fitted sheet instead of a beach towel
OK, you need to have a couple of things to make this work correctly. The first is four heavy objects to act as anchors. The second is no kids.
Lay the fitted sheet upside down on the sand. Put your four anchors in the corners and pull the sheet up and taut. When you’re done, you should have four short walls around you to prevent blowing sand from invading your space.
Kids will quickly turn this area into a sandbox, so I would skip the aggravation and save this hack for when they’re older or you’re alone.
2. Hide your valuables where they’ll never be found
It would be nice if people would keep their hands off your stuff, but the reality is thieves can be anywhere.
To avoid someone taking off with your valuables while you swim, hide your cash and keys somewhere they won’t be found. If you have a kiddo in diapers, put your valuables in a diaper and wrap it up so it looks like it’s dirty.
You can also clean out an empty sunscreen container and put cash, cards and keys in there.
Some people recommend rolling up cash and storing it in an old, clean lip balm container. However, I worry that would be so small it would easily be misplaced.
3. Put your key on a cork
I wish we had thought of this hack for all the times our keys fell out of the pocket of my husband’s swim trunks, and we ended up searching the bottom of the lake for them.
Make an extra key to your vehicle, attach it to a wine cork and then lock all your other keys in the car. If the car key falls out in the water, the cork will help it be visible and more easily found.
Yes, there’s a chance it could float away if you don’t notice it right away — but hey, no hack is perfect. If you’re worried, use hack No. 2 to hide your key rather than keeping it in your pocket.
4. Let baby powder whisk the sand away
Nothing is worse than wiping off wet sand, right? Apparently, if you sprinkle on some baby powder, it will absorb the moisture and make it easier to leave the sand at the beach rather than hauling it home with you.
I can’t vouch for this one personally, but if you’ve tried it, tell us how it works by leaving a comment below.
5. Store your phone in a plastic baggie
If you feel like you need to bring your phone to the beach, keep it sealed in a plastic baggie to protect it from the sand and water. You may find you’re able to use the touchscreen without even taking it out of the bag.
6. Search for wayward kids downwind
In a perfect world, you would have eyes on your kids at all times. But I have five kids and am painfully aware of how easy it is to make parenting mistakes.
So no stones from me if you have a child wander away from you on the beach. However, I will give you this advice: When you start frantically searching, your best bet is to start by looking downwind.
Unless there is something really tempting upwind (like that huge dune your older child was eyeing), kids typically take the path of least resistance.
7. Keep a balloon handy to clear your ears
When my ears need to be cleared at the beach, I typically hold my nose while trying to blow out of it. I’m sure that’s super attractive, and if you’d rather use a different way to clear your ears, bring along a couple of balloons.
Trying to blow up a balloon is an easy — and possibly not-so-goofy looking — way to clear your ears. It might also be an easier concept for little ones to grasp.