Snowballs & Sandcastles: Packing for the Beach with your Family
The sand between their toes, kids either love it or hate it! Either way, taking our children to the beach is a great place to reveal their innocence and wonder, as they spend hours building castles and digging moats. We talk to Andrea Astbury (founder of family-travel inspired store of Snowballs + Sanscastles) to get her tips on packing for the beach:
Hi Andrea, it’s great to chat with you about all things holiday – your shop Snowballs & Sandcastles is inspired by ‘family travel’, tell us what it is you love so much about it?
It’s complete switch-off time as a family. Escaping the modern-day world and routines to spend quality time together as a family, with no distractions.
Taking children out of their routine and comfort zone is also an excellent way to build their awareness and confidence, not to mention an introduction to new cultures and scenery you won’t find at home.
Where was the first place you went on holiday with your children?
Italy! My children were weaned on watermelon and pasta, and I always think of family when I think of Italy. Lots of laughter and amazing food. I love the way the Italians parent their children, and how the family dining experience is long and late without a crayon or device in sight.
The people are truly friendly, nothing is too much trouble and the food, scenery and culture on offer are hard to beat. We loved both Puglia for the opportunity to soak in sights and Sardinia for the amazing beaches.
What have you found to be the biggest challenge when travelling with kids?
Flying usually causes the most angst and we tend to overpack and over worry. I used to pack all sorts for the flight. from far too many messy snacks to Lego and activity books. I quickly learnt that most of this gets lost under seats making for unhappy children. Less is more!
We now make sure we get to the airport early enough, so the children can eat there rather than on the plane. They have a walk around and we make sure they’ve used the toilet. Once on board, books or an iPad with a favourite movie or game will see them through the trip. When they were babies we would always take a baby carrier to help ‘walk’ them to sleep. Plus, a soft blanket and plenty of wipes.
A peaceful family beach trip needs planning. What 4-5 items do you recommend packing for the children?
Living on the coast we spend most of our time at the beach, and again, I think we follow a ‘less is more’ approach. Sun protection is always at the top of the list so sunscreen and good swimwear (with UV protection) is crucial. For babies, I prefer an all-in-one sun suit with a zip, as its easier to take off when wet.
I also always pack a towelling hoody or poncho, so they can dry-off and stay warm when the sun drops. Lastly – beach toys (we love this eco-friendly beach set) and ones that can stack into my bag.
What items do you recommend for the grown-ups?
An oversized beach bag or rucksack that leaves your hands free, a lightweight Hammam towel, sunglasses, sunhat and a phone or camera to take lots of photos of those amazing sandcastles. I also carry some coins, as the children love to dig in the sand for buried treasure!
What are your favourite beaches in the world?
Mauritius is an amazing child-friendly stay as the beaches are pristine and the island is protected by a coral reef, so the waters are very calm and safer for a child to ‘toddle’ about in.
Portugal is also a favourite for the opposite reason. The beaches are exposed so the wave activity means lots of fun and surf for older children. Closer to home, my childhood place (the Gower), Rhossili Bay is often featured in the world top ten’s and remains one of my favourite beaches!
Finally, what would your dream holiday look like?
Somewhere teeming with wildlife, next to beautiful beaches where the children can swim and surf.
Costa Rica has been on our bucket list for a while now, and a trip here is just a question of timing. I really want to take the children somewhere they can have fun but equally learn a little about our eco system and see wildlife in its natural habitat. Maybe 2018, will see it happen!
Longer for winter sun and beach adventures with your family? Browse our baby-friendly villas today and book your next getaway now.