What says summer better than escaping to a sunny beach? Spending days by the water, soaking up the sun, and trying out new restaurants can make for a stress-free break. On the contrary, planning a summer trip, especially when little ones are involved, can often be stressful. Traveling is essentially living in uncharted territory for a short period of time with no routine. While it can be a lot to deal with, choosing the right place, vacation style and packing lists can turn a stressful trip into a much-needed relaxing summer vacation.
Choose where to go
So you’ve decided it’s time to take a relaxing trip to the beach. What now? Depending on your holiday urge, you might want to take a trip close by or maybe far, far away. If you just need a stress-free weekend away from home or are looking for a beach that’s only a short drive away for the kids, the DMV area offers many great options.
North Beach, Maryland, which is only about an hour away, is a great option for those looking to get a tan or just laze on a smaller beach with the family. There are kayak, paddle board and bike rentals for those wanting a more active holiday, as well as a 800m promenade and a range of novelty and antique shops in town making for an eventful outing.
Likewise, Sandy Point State Park, a beach that’s about an hour and about 40 minutes from North Beach, has something for everyone. This Maryland beach offers fantastic views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and is a popular area for fishing, picnicking and spending the day on a boat.
Although Delaware is not part of the DMV, it has many excellent beaches, many within a three-hour drive. Rehoboth and Bethany Beach are almost a 30 minute drive apart, making it easy to visit both during your trip. Both beaches are filled with numerous amenities to keep you and the whole family busy, and both areas have large downtown areas that you can spend hours wandering around.
The further the better
Sometimes you just have to get away. Luckily, if you head south or north of the area, the choice of beaches isn’t short.
If you’re looking for a place that feels far from home but don’t want to leave the state, Cape Charles might be the perfect fit. A four-hour drive away, this Virginia town sits on the Chesapeake Bay and offers a free public beach to all visitors. And with the flat, calm waters of the Chesapeake Bay, this is a great spot if you have young children.
Cape May is a similar distance away, except the drive takes you all the way to New Jersey. This seaside town boasts some of the finest beaches on the east coast and is known for its diverse wineries, making it the perfect coastal retreat.
Would you like to be even further away from home? Emerald Isle is a quaint North Carolina beach town known for the best fishing, surfing, diving and even golfing for those who want to take a day off from the beach. With this seaside town only a six-hour drive away, you’ll feel like a real vacationer.
find your stay
Your best bet: vacation rentals
With a kitchen to prepare meals, each with their own room, and potential amenities like pools and large balconies, it’s hard to decide on a vacation rental.
However, with all the benefits that come with renting a vacation home, it’s important to remember that there are more factors to consider than when booking a hotel.
A necessary measure is to check the safety of the neighborhood before deciding on a rental property. Many vacationers would prefer to pay for a cheaper rental, but a cheaper price can sometimes mean that the rental is less attractive and less secure.
Another consideration that may not always come to mind is if you’re arriving by car, check beforehand if parking is available. Otherwise, you may have to walk more than necessary to get to your car.
It’s also helpful to look for accommodations further from the beach. Even a few blocks away you can get a rental with the same amenities but at a lower price.
Just a weekend trip? Check out the hotels
Vacation rentals are usually the best option when you want privacy and space, but rental accommodation may not always be the best fit for your particular trip. Before researching where to stay, compare beach accommodations to hotels in your vacation spot. Some destinations are better rental locations than others. You’ll have better luck with a vacation rental on beaches like Cape May, as most of the beach towns on the Jersey Shore rely on rentals rather than hotels. On the other hand, since summer is a popular time for vacation rentals, many of these locations require a one-week minimum stay, meaning it might be better to find a hotel that suits your weekend getaway needs.
While the beach is often a seemingly safe choice for a summer vacation, there are still a myriad of dangers that come with staying on the shore.
It is important to check the beach where you are staying to see if there are certified lifeguards. Beach lifeguards not only serve as a safety step for young swimmers in the water, but also warn beachgoers of dangerous tides and stinging creatures.
But even with a lifeguard on hand, it’s still imperative to keep these stinging animals in mind when planning and executing your trip. Although jellyfish and stingray attacks are usually rare, it’s best to be prepared. Find out in advance if your beach is known for these stinging creatures, or ask the locals if they know which areas of the beach to avoid.
Another safety issue that doesn’t always come to mind is the severity of thunder and lightning. Even after a sunny day at the beach, thunder and lightning can still appear, and being by the water can increase your chances of getting hit. If you hear thunder or see lightning during your trip, you may need to return to your rental car or hotel to protect yourself.
Relaxing at the beach might be all you’re looking for in a summer vacation. But while it may seem like overkill, planning events or creating an itinerary for a beach trip can not only make your vacation feel more organized, but also ensure you’re making the most of your time.
preparation in advance
Most beach towns have a plethora of different activities that can keep people of all ages busy. From surfing to kayaking and jet skiing to boating, you can make every day of your trip fun. However, if you want to take a surfing lesson or rent a boat, these activities can often sell out during the busy summer months. After you’ve settled on your accommodation and transportation, research the different activities available at your beach and see if you can book in advance. Also, an advantage of booking earlier is that you may pay a cheaper price than if you bought it on the day of the activity.
If your family can’t decide where to have dinner, it can also be a good idea to make restaurant reservations before you travel. Research restaurants with your family beforehand to decide which places will appeal to everyone. This process allows you to deal with the frustration of having to decide ahead of time where to eat so you don’t have to worry about it while on vacation.
Fun but frugal
When done right, it is certainly possible to be frugal on vacation and still have a fun trip. Living in a rented apartment often means you have access to a kitchen. Bringing snacks and drinks from home and eating out on the beach can minimize your dining budget while you’re away. If you are staying in a hotel, you can pack and store pre-packaged snacks in your room and in a provided mini-fridge. You can also find free things to do around your beach town such as: B. Walking tours and historical museums by asking locals or doing a quick online search before you leave.
This story originally appeared in our July issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to our monthly magazine.