School’s about to start where this website is based, in the Pacific Northwest. For many other people across the country, school already has started. While that always signals fall, the weather is still warm and sunny in many areas. You could get more beach trips in well into the end of September depending on where you are. Here’s a list of some items that are all under $20 that will make your beach weekend the most memorable yet.
1. Ultralight Backpack
First things first, you need something to haul all your gear in. The less muscle power you have to use on carting around a heavy bag, the more energy you have to carry yummy food and drinks. This bag holds 20 liters and weighs only .55 pounds, making it light enough that even the youngest members of your family can carry their own stuff across the dunes.
2. Waterproof Bags
When you’re coming back from the beach you’re inevitably going to have wet clothes and towels. I’ve used grocery bags before, but they leak. And I always forget to bring the gallon size Ziploc bags. Forget all that hassle with these colorful lightweight waterproof bags. These are made for toiletries, but there’s no reason you can’t stuff a swimsuit and sandy water shoes in here instead, then use the washable bag for your lotion and shampoo next time you go on a trip.
3. Reef-safe Sunscreen
Hawaii recently banned all sunscreens that contain chemicals called oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are known to cause damage to the state’s coral reefs. Even if you’re not vacationing in Hawaii, why put chemicals into any water if you have a choice? Most reef-safe sunscreens like this ThinkSport brand, are the same price as other sunscreens, still have the coverage you need, and come with the good feeling to know that you’re not potentially harming water life.
4. Sand Castle Molds
It doesn’t matter how many sand toys you have — your kids will always want more. With these, they can make authentic-looking castle shapes with ease. And there’s four of them, so if you have two kids, they can share.
5. Disposable Cameras
Of course, you always have your phone with you. But what if you don’t want to expose it to sand and water? Or what about your kids? Give everyone a disposable camera and let them take their own photos. It’s so much more memorable to actually have a printed photo. And let’s be honest, when was the last time you actually looked at your phone pictures?
6. Portable Single-Use Grill
These portable grills make cooking at the beach easy, because you don’t have to pack your own charcoal and your own grill. But tip from a mom who has used these . . . they don’t get very hot. While they do heat up and will safely cook your food, don’t plan on cooking something like a 2-inch steak or thick chicken breasts. Pound out your meat so it’s thin, or cook something like hot dogs that doesn’t take a long time on a hot grill to fully cook.
7. Circular Towel
Ever think to yourself, why do towels have to be rectangular? Well they don’t! There’s a new trend toward circular towels and they are versatile and useful. Use them as a picnic blanket or even a tablecloth. They fit more kids on them than the traditional size towels do and they come in some very cool designs. Many other circular towels are twice the cost of this one.
8. Zippered Beach Bag
Apparently I like bags. A zippered tote like this is a lot more stylish than carrying your beach gear to the shore in your reusable grocery bags. And the zipper ensures that nothing will fall out en route. Plus, who doesn’t love the nautical stripes.
9. Portable Beach Chair With Backrest
Portable. Beach chair. With Backrest. No more propping yourself up on your elbows all day. This folds up into its own little case and only weighs 3.2 pounds. It even has a little zipper pocket on the back for your guilty pleasure novel.
10. Beach Umbrella
Even the hardiest of adults and kids can get too much sun when they’re at the beach all day. Take along a portable umbrella like this to give yourself some movable shade. when I first found this “sunbrella” it was on sale for $17.99. Looks like it’s gone up again, so keep an eye on it and get it when the price goes back down.
Vanessa Salvia is a traveler and journalist based in Oregon.