“Staycation” is a bit dismissive, isn’t it? Going to any beach at all, anywhere (unless you already live by the sea) right now is an unimaginable luxury. It might as well be Sardinia for how excited I am about it. With the added frisson of not having to go through an airport or get on a plane.
But to enjoy properly a UK beach holiday – any holiday in fact – you need the right kit. I have been investigating interesting and unusual things that will improve your UK beach holiday this year, if you have been able to nab one…
A massive great tub of it. Talcum powder gets wet, sticky sand off skin like a magic trick. It has to be seen to be believed – you will never look back. Available on Ocado and most online supermarkets if you don’t have time to hit up Boots.
Need I say more? Any old one will do. Also a wide-toothed comb and/or a tangle teezer handle brush. I don’t like those curry combs they sell but I love the ones they do with a handle. Kitty’s hair is being cut to chin-length tomorrow in added preparation. Loads of different ones available on Ocado, see above.
Beach = high winds = hair a right old mess within minutes. A wide hairband will minimise the horror. If I looked as good in a bob as Kitty does I would chop my hair off, too.
For navigating ouchy rocks and pebbly beaches.
Quick dry towels
I use Nabajji, which have been really useful.
Yes you can just use a plastic bag, but if you like kit then this will come in handy
If you don’t like hats but also want the sun out of your eyes, consider a visor. I am madly in love with my Under Armour one.
My husband hates the fact that I pack in laundry bags, but I think it’s just good sense. I now don’t pack in laundry bags if we are going to a smart hotel, as a small concession to him, but as we are going to a house rental I plan to pack in the ugliest, loudest laundry bags I can find. These aren’t bad taste enough, but I still bloody love them hard.
The best and totally non-ugly laundry/tote bags out there are made by Ace+Prince, which is a very good idea by my friend Chloe and her friend Heidi. They sell out very quickly because they are a small company and have yet to scale up, so it’s mostly currently sold out – but it really is worth checking back for when they re-stock. I have one and it has been by dearest companion on many trips and doubles up as a presentable beach bag.
I have amazingly managed to keep hold of the Givenchy sunglasses I bought earlier this year but hitherto my attitude towards sunglasses has been to buy a lot of very cheap ones and then you don’t have to have a heart attack every time you think you’ve left a pair in the restaurant. See at the bottom of each product for the description of the sun filter rating. Go nuts.
I don’t have one of these and I’m sorely tempted to get one – but I am worried Giles will hit the divorce button if any more Amazon packages arrive. These are fabulous all-purpose things that are brilliant for actual heavy rain but also peerless as a beach ground sheet. I don’t really do that thing on a beach where you literally set up a little village with windbreaks and UV tents and stuff, (though no diss if you do), but I insist on at least having something to sit on.
New to the Corens this year: wet suits. I got a long one for Sam from Decathlon but then dithered that maybe I should get them shorties instead so have ordered some, which come very highly rated, to be delivered to the house we’re staying at because they won’t arrive here in time. I’ve made a bit of a mess of it tbh.
What to wear
I will be wearing mostly leggings or shorts with band t-shirts and a khaki jacket. Boyfriend jeans of course. My newest band t-shirt is a Def Leppard one from Madeworn. I have been careful to memorise the titles of few Def Leppard songs so that if anyone challenges me I can claim to be a true fan (I am not, but U2 or Labrinth t-shirts just aren’t very fashion right now). I literally bought the last Def Leppard one, but I also like this AC/DC one. H&M have a good selection, I love this Metallica one, which I also obviously own.
I will also need a sweatshirt, which will be my ancient Isabel Marant for H&M prison grey one – I’m sure you have something similar.
Also coming along with me is my new obsession, which is a green Ganni dress. The ultimate buffet dress and now on sale, although it’s not a madly generous discount. Useful if I am expected to see someone other than my husband, again, on repeat, for the 140th day.
For shoes, I will take my Birkenstocks, flip-flips and some white trainers along with those aqua shoes.
How about you? Do you have any brilliant or unusual kit that you recommend for a UK beach holiday? I don’t mean stuff like “sun cream” or “blanket” but wacky off-beat things that only true beachy people know. Also, any insider tips about wetsuits would be most gratefully received.
Hi Esther! I keep meaning to order a foldable beach trolley, which you can load all the wetsuits, towels, STUFF etc etc into. They’re little carts you can pull from the car park down the beach. A friend who used to live in Dubai has one, and each time I see them at the beach, I think I must order one, but then obviously forget as soon as I get home…..
Becky McC says
I have bought one from Retrowagon. It looks amazing (it has arrived but I haven’t assembled it yet). I bought fairy lights for it too! And the toddler can ride in it too- pushchairs are hopeless on beaches.
We have a foldable beach wagon. Fourth year in use and I love it. Carries all that crap that kids need at the beach. Also – during lockdown I have been loading it up with all sorts to take round the corner to our local park and even down to the local shops. Saved my shoulder from carrying heavy bags and the frustration of carrying too many things! I have been approached in the park by around half a dozen people (mums and grans) asking about it!
Sue Madelin says
Wetsuits – you might already know these but my top tips are to take coat hangers for them so you can dunk them in the bath (or any other reasonably clean water source) and hang them to dry after use. Also turn them inside out to put them on – more important with the full length ones than the shorties, but it’s so much easier to put them on by rolling them up your body rather than trying to drag them up like normal trousers. Just make sure you’ve got it the right way round so you don’t end up with the zip at the front ;-). And when zipped up put the velcro tag under the zip pulling string so it won’t undo until you want it to.
Have fun – hope the sun comes back out for you.
These are amazing tips, thank you!
£195 for a T-Shirt. Although, that AC/DC one is dreamy. Considering selling a kidney….
Joking aside, have a wonderful holiday. xxx
Yes Madeworn is for fanatics only – those H&M ones are absolutely terrific too x
I just steal my husband’s 😉 Only fair, as he makes me listen to all that racket! (although as an Aussie, AC/DC = national heroes)
Towelling beach poncho for changing under. Surf shops have tons of them. I bought one a few years ago for my husband and he absolutely loves it. Especially on a chilly British beach …. I’d say they’re actually more worthwhile for adults than children. Do consider wetsuits for yourselves too; I’m actually quite partial to an icy swim but have to confess the wetsuit makes it a whole lot nicer.
Also, people with broken wetsuits – it could be worth putting them on Ebay for a nominal price – when my dog was very old I made him elbow protectors out of second hand wetsuits but I felt a bit guilty about cutting up perfectly good used ones. I’d’ve been delighted to buy knackered ones but couldn’t find any.
Have a lovely time whatever the weather. Sorry to hear about your fave beach débâcle. Had wondered why you hadn’t been back!
I would definitely buy a rash vest to wear under a wetsuit. I felt so awful when my little boy got a horrible rash all over his trunk from his wetsuit 🙁 The Sunuva ones are really good. I also like the Little Life beach shade to stick my head in if it’s too sunny and to keep my beers cold 🙂
Hannah B says
If self catering – take knives. For cooking, I hasten to add. I have yet to find a holiday cottage that didn’t have ridiculously blunt knives. I know it’s not beach-specific, but I do feel they are vital for self-catering holiday calm – they are now pretty much the first thing I put in the suitcase.
I’ll add – one of those tiny squeezey concentrated juice bottles. Takes up no space and when everyone’s fed up with water it’s nice to have squash. And you can squirt directly into their water bottle too if it’s already full.
A see through large make up bag that you can store and easily spot items like keys. I have a huge pencil case affair I use. I have a second, fatter one I stick sun cream bottle in. I’m basically a bag lady carrying bags within bags, like a bag version of a Russian doll.
I’m thinking of getting a She Wee as I can’t cope with a 20 minute walk for the nearest open loo followed by an hour queue. 😳
To put on a slightly damp wetsuit – put a plastic bag over foot or hand and pull the wetsuit over it. Definitely helps.
If you like me are blind without specs, and as we all know Prescription ones are prohibitive. I use spexs4less who are great at reglazing and making any old sunglasses prescription.
This isn’t an ad I just use them a lot.
Hi Esther, I live in a beach town and wetsuits and beach shoes are a good idea but equally surf shorts and a rash vest are fine at this time of year and quite a bit easier to get on and off. Someone else mentioned it already but a towelling ponchos are excellent for drying off and getting changed easily and staying warm. Have a lovely holiday xx
Emily Hazard says
For self catering – a really sharp knife, our proper corkscrew. UV swimsuits and hats with the legionnaire flaps for my children who loathe sun cream being put on. We are lucky enough to live on the coast so tend not to do all day beach trips and travel very light but if we didn’t I would definitely get one of those foldable trolleys.
Stuff to avoid chafing of wetsuit around necks, ankles and wrists. My son stays in the water all day and when a bit of sand gets in the neckline etc, his skin is raw by time he gets out and super painful. I try to ensure that the high neck of the rash-vest and wrists extend beyond wetsuit, but slap Vaseline on his skin too: this will be met with horror by proper wetsuit looker-afterers, perhaps someone else knows of a more wetsuit friendly product that works? Have a fab holiday!
KY jelly (or any water based lubricant) for wetsuit friendly lubrication around the neck, wrists etc.
Yes to the plastic bags on feet for putting on wetsuits – you want the cheapest corner shop ones as they are the slipperiest. We have a big wet bag from Gul which was expensive but brilliant as you can just lob all the wet gear in it and do it up and chuck it in the car and nothing else will get wet. We use a big rubber trug like you get from the garden centre for the back of our car to cart all the wet suits, towels etc to the beach. I also have lots of wash bags in my beach bag for keeping keys, phones, lip balm, cash in so you dont have to rummage in the bottom of any enormous beach bag. Also you get very cold as you come out of the water so we pack bobble hats when its a bit blustery as a warm head makes everything better.
If you are just having a quick dip a car safe is amazing also as you can lock your car key in it and then lock the safe to the door handle or towbar and then go straight into the sea. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Northcore-5GS-Keypod/dp/B01D5T9PYY/ref=sr_1_12?dchild=1&keywords=car+safe&qid=1594214713&sr=8-12
Years ago, my parents bought me a picnic backpack which includes a massive cool bag section for the food, plus a full set of crockery (melamine) and cutler zipped into the front. I assume they got it from a camping shop, but I LOVE IT and take it on every holiday, regardless of destination.
You can now get Teselate towels here – they’re huge in Australia. They fold to nothing, dry instantly, feel nice on your skin unlike microfibre – ugh – and most importantly sand does NOT stick to them, which is my pet hate. They’re the shiz. Although a lot of the designs are a bit meh. There’s a plain blue stripe one though that’s nice.
Body glide is vital for wetsuit wear. Do not use vaseline – it rots wetsuits. Hammam towels are the best and two tubs (brightly coloured plastic bucket thing) – one for dry and one for wet. Excellent for standing in when putting on a wetsuit on the beach to avoid the sand. A dry robe is a serious investment but an adult one can be hijacked by kids and will warm them up quickly as well as being the perfect changing ‘cubicle’! Anything made of normal cotton towelling (with the exception of HarryB shorts for kids which are the best invention ever) is a waste of space as it gets heavy and sand clogged. Skirts or dresses are the best beach wear as your legs are free, you can tuck it into your knickers to paddle and you can changed with a modicum of grace.
This is brilliant information. Off to look up HarryB shorts right now
Thank you, I hate this thing of declaring a holiday inside the U.K. a staycation now. It’s a holiday! Otherwise it invalidates every holiday I took until the age of 22! Staycation meant doing holiday type things from home originally I thought, or catching up on some gardening. Irksome though it is to say I kind of understood it. Anyway. I wasn’t big on the whole “village” thing either, but I did buy a small pop up tent that folds down and springs up easily like one of those tubular laundry bins. It is very small to carry and it is good for those changeable days with passing showers that are a bit miserable to sit through but aren’t worth leaving the beach for, shy children who want to change from wetsuit to t shirt and shorts in privacy and hiding in with a book out of the sun while they bury their father. Also good for garden camping. I take rash vests as well but I do find my slightly cold-averse child spends longer in the water since having his shortie wetsuit. Have a lovely holiday. We are not that far from a coast so will probably patch ours together from days out if the good lord’s willing and the creeks don’t rise.
As a metalhead-unto-death I feel compelled to say that you really REALLY don’t need to spend triple figures on a band tshirt. You can get literally any of them from the likes of EMP.co.uk or the bands’ official websites, for £20-30. Maximum! And the music isn’t half bad either *wink*
yes BUT these come pre-distressed and the cotton is sooooooo nice and they drape nicely and okay yes maybe I’m just a massive mug so sue me Snolly
I want to just add how much I love the fact that the EMO website has a little horns-of-satan as a cursor. THAT is dedication to a cause
That is my favourite part of the website too! And I reckon we’re all mugs for something or other, it’s not the worst thing in the world to be 🙂
Ef Murphy says
Shorty wetsuits easier to get on, but a wetsuit that covers knees and elbows will come into its own when they actually have a successful body board run and end up grounding on sand or shingle …
This is an excellent point
I love the look and idea Birkenstocks but I have quite short and wide calves which I hate and I worry the double strap ones will exacerbate the problem. Are the single buckle/strap ones a decent alternative?