On a recent holiday to France, we learned some very valuable lessons about how to pack (or not) for a full day at the beach with kids. Many of these tips and tricks were discovered the hard way – our much-anticipated day on the sand was cut drastically short amidst moans, groans and hot, sandy irritation! In truth, we were surrounded by beach-pros, those families who have specific beach kit to ensure everyone can relax and enjoy a full 5-6 hours of playing, swimming, strolling, splashing and, even snoozing. The time had come to wise-up and shake-off our amateur beach-goer status; we had to invest in a few extra bits and pieces that made so much difference on our next trip to the beach! And we’re more than happy to share our findings with you…

1. Do not skimp on beach towels

Beach towels are often bulky and hard to squeeze into your new-season beach tote, so it’s tempting to take just a couple for the family to share. But one generously sized towel per person is the way to go, with a large communal blanket or sarong too. Everyone has somewhere to sit (the blanket) and everyone has something to dry themselves with – simple! If you’re staying overseas, forget about the towels hanging up in your ensuite. Hotel towels are too small, too thin, too crumply. We’re talking about velour and terry loop towels: the towelling side is for drying with and the velour side is for lying upon! A traditional, heavier beach towel won’t sink into the sand and a smoother side repels grains. Check out Sunnylife and Nordstrom for great quality and striking designs.

2. Take some shade

You can’t always guarantee that the beach you land upon will be fringed with a soothing canopy of vegetation to provide shelter from the strong midday sun. Cool off and take a break from those rays with a large beach umbrella, a solar tent or a canopy shade. These things can be a little cumbersome. On windy days, extra precaution is needed to ensure they’re firmly anchored, so look for the lightest yet sturdiest option. If you’re overseas, you can often pick up a reasonably priced parasol from the local store, which can be passed on to a fellow holiday maker when you leave! Our picks:


Shade USA

3. Invest in a seat  

For longer days at the beach when you want to relax and read (perhaps under your new parasol), a specially designed chair is a brilliant thing. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just easy to fold and probably one that sits low to the ground. Something simple and traditional like this one from Beachkit Australia will do. Comfort is key to an enjoyable day at the beach and if you read lying on a towel for too long, you just end up with a strained neck and sore shoulders!

Rio Brands

4. Don’t forget beach toys and activities

Sounds like a no-brainer but it’s easy to forget to take stuff that will keep the kids entertained for more than 30 minutes at a time when you’re trying to get everyone out of the door. Fishing nets, beach boules, a portable radio, bats and balls and boogie boards are worth including in your kit.

5. Remember your wet bag

Changing out of wet togs might be necessary if you’re heading to café or jumping straight back in the car after your day at the beach. A wet bag is a small but very useful item to keep the rest of your beach holdall from becoming soggy.  Etsy has a good selection and we love this Watermelon one by Blue Kangaroo Handmade.

6. Throw it all on a trolley

Unless you have a big family with kids who are old enough to help carry all this day-at-the-beach stuff, a trolley that will roll across the sand is a great (if a little pricey) investment. These are really popular in Europe, especially when the beach car park is quite a walk away from the shore.

The Wagon Store

And finally, here’s a checklist for less stress and mess all around!

  • Never let the kids wear socks and trainers to the beach – sliders or thongs only!
  • Don’t use a beach bag with too many pockets in it – big and open is so much easier and nothing gets hidden or lost within it.
  • Band aids are essential as someone always falls over in the rock pools!
  • Take plenty of water, snacks, cover-up clothing and sunscreen to hydrate, refuel and protect from sunburn


Tom & Teddy, 7 Southfield Road,Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, BS9 3BG


Tel: 0117 908 6023