Prepare for fun in the sun with our beach bag checklist.We always seem to forget to pack at least one important item when we head to the beach. So here's our handy checklist of beach bag must-haves for your perfect day on the sand.
Read: Throw an engrossing book in your bag, or download a few novels onto your e-reader to save space in your tote. (We love being able to download books from our local library on our e-reader, which we save for deck, poolside and other reading situations that aren't too watery.)
Our reviews of beach reads include The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. by Nichole Bernier (Crown, 2012), Born of Silence by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Grand Central Publishing, 2012), No Time Like the Present by Nadine Gordimer (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2012) and Great-Aunt Sophia's Lessons for Bombshells by Lisa Cach (Gallery Books, 2012). We're also giving away all four books to one lucky reader (enter by July 31, 2012).
Among our favorite summer books last year: Siri Hustvedt's The Summer Without Men (Picador, 2011), which tells the story of Mia Fredricksen after a mental breakdown caused by her husband's announcement that he wants to put a "pause" on their 30-year marriage. Silver Girl (Reagan Arthur, 2011) by Elin Hilderbrand and Beachcombers (Ballantine, 2011) by Nancy Thayer, both based in beachy Nantucket, also tell empowering stories of women regrouping after unexpected heartbreak.
Eat: "Everyone wants to stay energized at the beach," says Patricia Bannan, M.S., R.D., author of Eat Right When Time Is Tight (Norlights Press, 2010). "But the sun can be draining, which means that traveling with snacks is key." She suggests bringing foods that stay fresh in the heat. For example, dried fruits and vegetables, such as pineapple, mango, berries, papayas, carrots, green beans or tomatoes, pack well. For a cool, healthy snack, freeze grapes or a banana. Whole food bars, like LÄRABAR, SOYJOY, Raw Revolution and KIND bars, also are good beach snacks.
Salty chips can be dehydrating, but if you still want the crunch, grab reduced sodium tortilla chips with salsa or soy chips, which have more protein and fiber than potato chips. Pistachios also are a good option, low in fat and calories compared to other nuts. They are packed with more than 30 vitamins and minerals, and their shells slow you down, making you more mindful of what you're consuming.
Drink: "Staying hydrated during the summer months is key to both your physical and mental health," says Bannan, adding that once you feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated. She suggests filling a one-liter bottle to drink before heading to the beach, and chilling another in the fridge to take with you. We usually fill our Klean Kanteen insulated bottle ($22.95-$27.95), which keeps our water cool and won't end up as beach litter.
To make lightly flavored water with no extra sugar, Bannan suggests throwing some chopped fruit into a pitcher of water the night before. But skip the soda. Carbonation can make you feel bloated and may make your belly look bigger.
Wear: A breezy sarong or tunic provides modesty without overheating you. And it doubles as a makeshift pillow when folded up, perfect for a beach siesta. We like these styles: the Gottex Fireworks Pareo ($74.99), the sheer Inca Treasure half pareo ($88), the Lotta Stensson maxi caftan ($248) and the Josa Tulum striped caftan ($230). For less coverage, we love Miguelina's floral lace drawstring shorts ($180).
Sunscreen is a must every day, but especially when you're at the beach. Look for a sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection, which blocks both UVA and UVB rays. VIVmag is giving away Skinn Cosmetics Skinnsurance SPF 30 to five lucky readers (enter by Sept. 30, 2012). To read more about this natural mineral sunscreen and other sun protection for lips and skin in "SPFabulous" in the latest issue of VIVmag!
Grab some sunglasses and a hat - they will protect your eyes and scalp from the sun. Check out "Instant Cool" in our summer issue to mix and match chic shades with stylish earrings.
Listen: Don't forget your iPod. If you have a small group on the beach and want to listen to some tunes together, try some smaller, portable speakers, like the iHome iHM79 Portable Speakers ($49.99). At 8 cubic inches, these compact, battery-powered speakers are ideal for the beach - and for their size and price, they have good sound quality.
What beach-bag essentials would you add?