By Michelle Doucette
There are no two words that better capture the pure joy of summer than "beach house." And to really make it unforgettable, you'll want to stock the house up with all the right provisions and keep these tips in mind before you go. And because sometimes the best beach house is your friend's beach house, these ideas work for visitors too.
Do Some Recon Work
If you're visiting friends or renting a place, one call to the host can ensure your packing list is on the right track. Jon Gray, Vice President of North America for the vacation-rental website HomeAway, recommends calling a rental's homeowner ahead of time to ask about amenities like laundry detergent and beach towels. (Most HomeAway listings include the right phone number.) "I have a toddler, so I always ask if they have things like a high chair or a Pack 'n Play at the rental, so we know what we need to bring from home," Gray says. "By having those conversations ahead of time, you eliminate the chance of surprises when you arrive."
Arrive to a Stocked Kitchen
No one wants to show up famished after a long day of traveling, only to have to detour to the grocery store. Beach-house owners and renters alike can benefit from concierge services that will stock your place with groceries, drinks, and even flowers. Santa Barbara Luxury Rentals, for one, provides a grocery-list template for guests to fill out. And Tidy by the Sea, a concierge service in Washington state, will go so far as to throw a log on the fire for your arrival. Check to see if your rental agency or beach town offers these advance services.
Sandproof and Waterproof your Stuff
Keep sand out of everything (except maybe your swimsuit) with a few clever products and home remedies. Replace your beach blanket with a sand-repelling Parasheet or sandless beach mat so you don't drag sand back to the house—but for added lines of defense, outfit every door with an outdoor mat and an indoor mat. To protect your phone and camera, toss them in a Sea to Summit dry sack, and bring silica-gel packs and Ziploc bags for any rescue missions; if your electronics do get wet, remove batteries and memory cards and put them in a gel-pack-filled bag overnight.
Pack the Perfect Beach Bag
Upgrade your time in the sand by adding some travel-friendly items to your tote. Throw in a pair of foldable, fashionable Sunpocket sunglasses and rest assured you won't need a replacement pair halfway through vacation this time. Swap out your old Frisbee with a Grand Trunk flying travel disc; its foldable design is prefect for suitcases. Include a Pole-R Bear umbrella hook, a genius gadget for stashing your stuff on the beach. And a Jawbone JAMBOX wireless speaker is worth the $200 investment for high-quality sound in the smallest possible package.
Brush Up on Beach Safety
Your beach house's best assets—access to the ocean and endless sunshine—can be your worst nemeses without some precautions. "A little education can make your trip more enjoyable and safer," says Lauren Tjaden, a self-proclaimed "beach bunny" and VISIT FLORIDA's Beaches and Adventure Insider. "Everyone in your gang should know things like what various beach flags mean, how to shuffle their feet when they walk through the water, and how to escape a rip current." Try to swim near a lifeguard and don't forget your beach basics; Tjaden recommends "using sunscreen generously and often, drinking lots of water, and covering up with a hat and sunglasses."
Entertain with a Laidback Vibe
Unlike an oceanfront hotel room, a beach house is booked or bought for much more than sleeping—and the best memories are often made in the kitchen or by the grill, which is the number-one must-have for coastal-living expert Sarah of A Beach Cottage blog. She recommends serving up grilled dishes on wooden boards—"easy to serve from, perfect for sharing, well-suited to informal outdoor dining, and clean-up is kept to a minimum." And Sarah's all about easy-clean Adirondack chairs for seating. All the better to enjoy your beach house and, more importantly, your company.