We just got back from our annual family beach vacation in Galveston, Texas. We always rent a home through VRBO and have a great time just being together. Over the years, our family has grown and changed with the addition of grandchildren. And every time we take a trip together, I learn something new!
12 Tips for a Super-Fun Family Beach Vacation
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Choosing a House
Plan early to ensure you get a house that meets your needs in the location you want to be in. We reserved our house in January for an August vacation. We have always found stellar rentals on VRBO. But you have to do your research and read the fine print!
- Think about the location you want:
- Is it important to have an unobstructed view of the beach?
- How far do you want to be from the beach?
- Do you want to be able to drive your car on the beach? Make sure you are in a location that allows cars on the beach.
- Will you be walking to the beach? Think about who is in your party and how far they can walk. Last year we rented a lovely home in a beach community that was advertised as “1/2 a block” from the beach. In truth, it was about 3 blocks from the bridge that crossed over to the beach. Not a bad walk for the adults in our party, but we had a 2-year-old with us. And since we thought it was a short walk, we did not bring a stroller or wagon for her. So getting to the beach was not convenient.
- Is the home advertised as “across the street from the beach”? What street? A 2-lane road that is not busy OR a busy 5-lane highway that is very hard to cross safely on foot?
Read the fine print
2. Read the reviews. Make sure they are current – within the last year. If someone left a negative review and the owner has not responded with how that problem was fixed – beware.
3. Read what is included with the rental so that you can make your packing list. Are these items included?
- Fully stocked kitchen with cooking and dining utensils
- Beach towels
- Bath towels
- Bed linens
- Cable TV & WiFi
It is not essential that the house is stocked with these items. But you do need to know what is included so that you know what you need to bring with you. Also, if TV and WiFi access is important, be sure and check to see if that is provided.
Plan Your Meals
We tend to go to the beach and eat all of our meals at the house. If this is what you will be doing:
4. Plan your meals ahead of time and buy your groceries before your come. Don’t forget things like PAM, foil, seasonings – things that you have at home and take for granted.
5. Keep your meals simple. We cooked our meat on the grill each evening – bratwurst, hot dogs, fajitas, steak & chicken. I also made this delicious broccoli salad that keeps well for a few days in the refrigerator.
6. Is there a grocery store close by? Or do you have to drive for a while to get groceries? At our location, the closest store was 7 miles from the house. It had the few things we forgot, but at jacked up prices! The closest large grocery store was 30 miles away, so we sucked it up and paid the higher prices.
7. If you want to eat out, what restaurants are close by? Do they meet the dietary needs of your family?
Things you might need if you are traveling with kids.
We had 3 kids with us – 6 months, 3 and 9. Quite a range.
8. You might need:
- High chair
- Baby gate if it is a 2 story house
- Beach toys
- Wagon to carry stuff to the beach. I bought this one that folds up and it was the best purchase I made for this whole trip! It held our towels, life jackets, boogie board, drinks – anything we wanted to take down to the beach.
Stuff for family fun:
9. This rolling cooler is great for hauling drinks and perishable snacks to the beach. And because it is tall, we carried our wine and other adult libations in it!
10. A big puzzle to work on all week. The adults in our family and our 9-year-old grandson enjoyed this – especially on the few afternoons when we had rain.
11. Games. Card and board games are always good. This year’s games were Speak Out and Hedbanz. Speak Out says it is for kids 16 and up, but it was great to play as a family with our 9-year-old. Batteries were needed for Hedbanz, so we didn’t get to play that one. So…don’t forget the batteries if your game needs them!
12. Goody bags – I always make little goody bags for everyone at the start of our vacation. Just for fun. Most of these items were purchased at the Dollar Store. Here’s what they got this year:
- 6-month-old grandson – reusable swim diaper and a nautical themed sleeper.
- 3-year-old granddaughter – water shoes, sunglasses, swim goggles & beach toys.
- 9-year-old grandson – boogie board, beach towel, & a woven straw beach mat
- Adult daughters – flip flops & nail polish
- Son-in-law – a bottle of bourbon
A little bit of thought on what you need. A little bit of research about where you’re going. And a whole lot of love and gratitude for the time spent together. That’s all it takes for a super fun family vacation.
You might also like: 5 Tips for An Awesome Multi-generational Family Vacation
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