We live in Santa Cruz. That means that any day the sun is shining, on our way to or from anywhere, my daughter may call from the backseat, “Can we go to the beach?” After the second or third time I declined because we didn’t have any of our beach gear with us, she said, “Mommy, we never get to go to the beach.” I felt awful. I mean, it is right there! So I solved the problem by putting together what I call our summer bag and keeping it in the trunk of my car. Ours is for beach trips, but a bag like this is great for any summer destination – the park, a hike, even the farmer’s market.
This has worked so well I wanted to tell you what I keep in our summer bag so you can make one, too.
This post contains affiliate links.
Get Your Summer Bag Ready
First up, make sure you have a good bag. I use a large straw market bag my guy brought home as a souvenir from Madagascar (similar to this one), which stands up in the trunk of my car and is easy to carry. It is also big enough to hold extra clothes as they are shed. A lightweight backpack would also work really well.
This is what I put inside it:
First and foremost, a good sunblock, for any time we are going to be outside. I only use mineral sunblocks and choose the healthiest ones I can find. My favorite is the facial formulation from Green Goddess, but I hear good things about ThinkSport and Blue Lizard, too. Blue Lizard is made in Australia, and I trust Australians to know their sun protection!
I always have dry lips on hot days, and my favorite lip balm is the Cardamon Orange stick available from Grove Collective. It doesn’t have SPF in it, though, so if you want that, you might go for something like this organic one from Kiss My Face that is rated 30 SPF.
I always keep an extra pair of sunglasses for each of us in the summer bag (I buy cheap glasses at Target), and a squishable sun hat. I love the Sunday Afternoons hat I found last summer for my daughter because it covers the back of her neck even when she’s leaning over digging in the sand.
For post-beach clean up, I keep a microfiber camping towel – small and very absorbent! – and a shaking bottle of talc-free powder. This stuff is magic for getting sand off of damp skin. I’ve heard that corn starch works for this too, but I haven’t tried it. The shaker bottle is key for applying it – you only need a little!
I also have a travel pack of wipes. Something is always sticky that shouldn’t be. I honestly don’t know how I lived without wipes in my pre-baby life!
Water and snack
Although I almost always have a bottle of water in the car, I keep an extra in the summer bag. I like Kleen Kanteen metal bottles and Ello glass bottles because both can get hot and not leach anything into the water. Just pick a lid style that won’t leak if it ends up upside down.
I also keep a small refillable bag of trail mix (just make sure it doesn’t have chocolate in it, which will melt in a hot car!) and a couple of Shine snack pouches. I’ve just discovered the Shine pouches – all fruit and veggies, no added sugar, and tasty for both my daughter and for me. I got a mixed flavor box at Costco for a bit less than I’ve seen them priced individually.
There are a few other items that come and go from the summer bag that you might want to consider, deepening on what kind of outing your family does.
Because are often going to the beach, but my daughter prefers the sand to the water, I have a small sand bucket and a couple of shovels. I’m considering upgrading to these sand toys that come in their own carry bag for this summer.
While she digs, I’m free to do something else. Sometimes I have a chair in the trunk of my car, which is awesome, and then I can read a book or otherwise entertain myself. A small coloring book and mini pens might be a good idea if you think you might find yourself with entertained kids and want to relax without a screen. These will do double duty for unexpected waits in restaurants or doctor’s office’s, too!
If you are looking for summer reading ideas, you can’t go wrong with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2016 summer reading guide. There’s something for everyone on that list!
With just a little preparation, you can be adventure-ready any time. And what is summer for if not for a little more, “Yes!” to requests for spontaneous adventure?