Traveling to the Beach with a Preschooler

Nothing makes my preschooler happier than a trip to the beach. However, I know from experience that a day at the beach with a preschooler is not nearly as enjoyable if certain items are left at home. As such, I always prepare a master list prior to packing for a day of fun in the sun. Remembering the essentials: towel, swimsuit and sunscreen is easy. It’s the rest of these items that seem to get lost in the shuffle, and are typically the ones your preschooler will be moaning for as soon as you hit the sand:

Beach mats

Beach chairs

Beach umbrella



Sand toys (pail, shovel, cups, rake)

Inflatable toys

Personal water flotation devices for children (water wings, floaties, swimmies)



Set of dry clothes


Cooler with snacks and drinks (Note: Most beaches prohibit alcohol, instead opt for bottled water and juice boxes. Also, remember to pack food snugly and in layers–heavy things on the bottom, soft things on top of those. Pre-chill food and drinks and wrap them well in foil to protect from melting ice and condensation.)

Hand sanitizers (Anti-bacterial gel or Wet Ones)

Cell phone

Plastic garbage bag (To avoid constant trips to the trash can, bring your own bag, fill it periodically, and at the end of the day dispose of it in one trip.)

I’ve also seen some people bring pillows, hand-held televisions, and needlepoint projects to the beach, but they usually don’t have a kid in tow.

In regards to hauling the aforementioned items to the sand, consider the following:

Laundry baskets: This is an affordable means of toting toys, towels, and sandals to and from the car. Laundry baskets are sturdy, durable and give kids easy access to their beach gear. In addition, they now come in a variety of vibrant colors.

Mesh totes: I am a big fan of mesh bags. I use them for wet clothes, toys and scuba gear. Since they are so well ventilated, wet items dry faster. The bags also come in a variety of sizes. I have one large enough to accommodate all of my daughter’s beach toys. Plus, it has padded shoulder straps and is machine washable.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.