Beach survival guide with kids – beach tips and tricks
The beach is an amazing place to take kids and Australia’s beaches are some of the best in the world. To get the most out of your next visit to the beach, find out the most important beach tips and tricks including how to deal with everything from chafing to bluebottle stings, in our Aussie beach survival guide with kids.
Growing up in Queensland, Australia I’ve spent a lot of time on the beach over the years and our boys are no different. Their first trip to the beach was when they were only a couple of months old and it is still one of their favourite places to holiday. Here is what we’ve learnt over the years.
Boys and men seem to have a lot of trouble with chafing at the beach, so knowing how to deal with it is a big thing if you want to enjoy your holiday. For the last few years I’ve tried everything from pawpaw cream to baby powder, no boardies and new boardies. But for at least one boy, nothing seems to work. Since it seems that winging it isn’t an option anymore, I’ve done my research and found the experts picks.
Lanolin is the best of the creams. It might be messy but it’s worth a try.
What we have had the most success with is the boys wearing anti-chafing board shorts! There a few around but we use No-Netz which is a US company that, lucky for us, ships worldwide. They have an anti-bacterial, anti-chafe, non-compression liner in them. Take a look at our review of the No-Netz anti-chafing board shorts for boys.
Another option to try is jammers, the long leg swimwear that looks like bike pants but not quite as tight.
When you’re cool from splashing around in the water, it is really easy to get sunburnt. To make sure that doesn’t happen to your family, follow these tips.
- Put on sunscreen before you leave home. It’s so much easier and has time to work before you hit the beach.
- Wear a hat, board shorts, and rashie
- If it is a really hot day, wear zinc on your face on top of the sunscreen. It may not be the coolest thing in the world (except if you’re a young boy) but it’s so much better than burnt faces.
- Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours
- If you’re at the beach for a while or have a baby or toddler, take a pop-up tent or beach umbrella.
Sand in eyes
No trip to the beach is complete without someone throwing sand. Most of the time it misses the target but if their aim is good, it will hit one of the kids straight in the face! The ensuing screaming means you’ve got to do something fast, especially since the whole beach is now watching you.
Fresh water is your best friend in this scenario. First up, brush off the bulk of the sand from their face. Then pour water (from a water bottle or tap) over their face, getting them to blink occasionally until all the sand is gone. If you can’t find any fresh water then sea water is the next best thing.
Losing your kids
It’s never a good idea to lose your kids on the beach especially when they are young, but since you can’t tie them to you, it will no doubt happen some time. My advice is to dress them in bright coloured clothes. When the boys were toddlers I would buy these cute blue and white swimmers, not realising how hard it would be to keep an eye on them in the water. Go for bright green, orange, yellow or red. Something that won’t blend into the ocean or sand. The brighter the better in my opinion.
The other idea is to put your towels and bag near the yellow and red flags or the lifeguard, so it is easy for the kids to find your spot. It also makes it easier for you to remember where your stuff is.
Bluebottle stings (also known as Portuguese Man of War)
Every year, at least one of us gets stung by a bluebottle jellyfish, so we are pretty good at treating them now. They can really hurt but they are also easy to treat. If you are at a patrolled beach go straight to the lifesavers. They are experts at treating them and are great with the kids.
If you’ve got to do it yourself, you need remove all the tentacles (they can be very long), pour the warmest water you can stand over the sting and then put ice on. If we are going out four wheel driving on the beach we always take Itch Eeze cream with us (from the pharmacy) which helps numb the pain.
And no you shouldn’t urinate on the sting! That’s just gross and doesn’t work anyway.
Prevention: Bluebottle shouldn’t sting through rashies and board shorts so the more body parts protected, the less you’ll get stung. Also if you’re swimming at a patrolled beach, always check the surf conditions board for any warnings.
If you are heading to the waters of northern Australia you will find some of the most dangerous marine stingers on Earth. Not to totally freak you out or anything! Stings from Box jellyfish and Irukandji can be life threatening, so it’s important to do the following:
- Always swim at patrolled beaches and inside the stinger nets where available
- Never enter the water when beaches are closed
- Wear a full-body lycra suit for protection during stinger season which is generally November to March, and always have vinegar and a phone on hand.
If you are stung you should immediately call Triple Zero (000) to get an ambulance and pour vinegar onto the affected area. Beach Safe has more information on these stingers and how to stay safe.
Trouble in the water
The safest way to enjoy our beaches is to always swim between the flags. However considering the size of our coastline, chances are at some stage you may find yourself swimming at an unpatrolled beach.
One of the biggest dangers you’ll face in the water are ocean rips. It’s really important to educate yourself and your kids about how to identify a rip and what to do if you get caught in one. Take a look at Surf Lifesving Australia’s Beach Safe website which will give you all the information you need about staying safe in the water.
Keep your valuables safe
The less valuables you take to the beach the better, however you usually need to take some with you like your house or car keys. On the majority of Australian beaches I usually put our valuables down the bottom of the bag which has always worked. On the more highly populated beaches however, those of you with little ones can use this trick. Grab a clean nappy and plastic nappy bag, wrap your valuables inside the nappy like it is a dirty nappy and leave it at the bottom of your bag. Chances are no would be thief is going to steal a dirty nappy!
No trip to the beach is complete without everyone being covered in sand. To avoid having to cart half the beach with you in the car, try giving the kids a shower (available at most Australian beaches). If the weather’s a bit cool this isn’t always appreciated by kids but even with all the screaming, most people will know you are not trying to kill them.
If that doesn’t work, try the baby powder trick. When they are as dry as possible, coat the offending bodyparts in baby powder and try to rub it all off. Some people even fill a sock full of baby powder and tie it up at the end to use it like an eraser by rubbing it over the sandy body parts. We’ve never done it but apparently it works.
The other trick to try is keeping a soft dust brush in the car to de-sand feet before you get in. The only other thing to do is let everyone get in sandy and deal with the mess when you get home.
Updated March 2018