13 Beach Bag Essentials for Every Traveler

Each of these beach bag essentials will help make sure you have a great day relaxing by the pool or in the sand.

Whether you're heading out on a summer vacation or a mid-winter break, if you're spending the day in the sun, you'll want to consider popping these items in your beach bag.

beach bag essentials

But first, you'll need to choose the perfect bag to carry your essentials. There are so many great styles, from canvas or waterproof totes to wicker baskets and backpacks. These are a few of my favorite styles.

1. Sun Hat

Fedoras and floppy wide-brimmed hats are a great way to keep your head cool and prevent heat stroke. They're also imperative to keep colored hair from fading or prominent parts from getting burned. If you're sportier, visors and ball caps are also great options.

                  

         

2. Cover Up

It's always a good idea to have something to slip over your swimsuit in case you want to go to a restaurant or to keep the sun off your shoulders. There are so many great styles of covers ups to choose from. Jersey dresses, rompers, and tunics are always comfortable and provide full coverage, while sarongs and kimonos leave a little more room to breathe if you will. And each type of cover up comes in a variety of fabrics and colors.

3. Sunscreen

It doesn't matter how fair or dark your skin is, sunscreen tops the list of beach bag essentials. You simply have to protect yourself from the sun's harmful UV rays. If you're super fair-skinned and have freckles like me, Neutrogena makes 100+ SPF sunscreen that is non-greasy and absorbs quickly. If you've got tattoos, Tattoo Goo makes a specially formulated sunscreen that will help stop them from fading in the sun. The best part is that it comes in a chapstick-sized package that you can easily take with you everywhere. Sunlight is a tattoo's worst enemy—keep 'em covered.

4. Soothing Gel

So you fell asleep in the sun...for a few hours...and your sunscreen wore off. Don't be ashamed, we've all been there before. You may look like a lobster but you don't need to feel like you're boiling in a pot of hot water. Soothe your burning skin with aloe vera gel. The cool sensation does wonders to calm a painful burn.

                        

5. Sunglasses

Your skin isn't the only thing you need to protect from the sun. Be sure to pack your favorite pair of sunnies to keep them safe from UV rays (and also to help prevent crow's-feet from squinting). You can't go wrong with a class pair of Ray-Bans, but I just love having a little fun with my shades.

6. Beach Towel

If you're spending the day at the beach, you need a big, cozy towel that can double as a blanket. Boho Mandala beach throws are all the rage. The circular shape is both fun and stylish. Turkish towels are also extremely popular. They're super absorbent, fast-drying, and can double as a sarong in a pinch.

   

7. Sandals

I know, I know, you want to feel the sand between your toes. Don't we all? But you still need to have a pair of shoes you can slip on if you plan to pop into the local burger joint. Birkenstocks are a great option if you want something a little trendy or that has some solid arch support (I like mine with a little glitz so I can dress them up at night). And of course, there's always the comfortable, versatile, and affordable flip flop. Havaianas are a great brand with lots of style selection.

8. Swimsuit

Even if you don't plan to take a dip in the water, it's customary to wear a swimsuit for a day at the beach or poolside. There are so many great styles that it's hard to choose just one. From classic one pieces to itty bitty bikinis, you can keep it modest or flaunt your best features. Tankinis, retro remixes, and sexy silhouettes ensure there is something that will work with your personal style.

9. Books

It's always good to have something to read while lazing around. An eReader, like Kindle, is an ideal option, especially if you get tired of any one book too easily. You can store a ton of different types of books all in one device, giving you lots of great choices. And if you just want to stare at pictures and skim short stories, you can even subscribe to magazines on your eReader. I've got a Kindle Paperwhite. I love its anti-glare features, the fact that it lasts for hours and hours, and that it's super lightweight for travel. If you're like me and you enjoy the feel of a book, add a cover to your eReader.

10. Music

There's nothing like kicking back with some good tunes. Rather than waste space on your phone or use up your precious battery power, why not kick it old school with an MP4 player? Call me old school, but I still love my iPod shuffle best. Simply clip it to your swimsuit strap and enjoy. It's super lightweight so you'll barely even notice it.

     

11. Wallet

You need a place to stash your cash, and it's not likely you've got pockets in your swimsuit. A waterproof wallet you can wear around your wrist or neck is a great option. Alternatively, a secret pocket scarf is the perfect way to add a splash of fashion to your beach attire, and no one will suspect you've got precious cargo hidden inside.

      

12. Snacks

Let's face it. Lying around doing nothing all day makes us hungry. It's a fact of life. So snacks are one of the top beach bag essentials. And don't forget to pack some bottled water to keep you hydrated throughout the day. Dasani is my personal favorite.

13. Toys

A day at the beach simply wouldn't be complete without a beach ball, floaty, or other fun toys. C'mon, you know you want to be the girl lounging around on the unicorn.

What are your beach bag essentials? Leave a comment to share them.

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Top 5 Reasons to Spend Your Sea Day on the Lido Deck

The Lido Deck has tons of fun stuff to do on a day at sea.

 

But what is a Lido Deck, you ask? Well, it took me about five cruises to realize that the Lido Deck on pretty much every cruise line is the upper deck where you’ll find all the outdoor pools and fun in the sun. If you’ve booked and inside cabin or have only a window in your room, it’s fair to say you’ll spend most of your time on board the ship on the Lido Deck. But even if you have a balcony in your cabin, there’s no way it can compare to all the action that goes on upstairs.

Check out these five reasons why the Lido Deck is the best place to spend a fun day at sea on any ship, big or small.

1. Food

You never have to walk too far from your lounge chair to find something to eat on the Lido Deck. Typically, it’s on the same floor as the buffet, but there are often several other dining options as well. If you’ve got a hankering for a hot dog, burger, or fries, chances are you’ll find them at the outdoor grill. Often, on sea days, cruise lines will host a seafood BBQ or dessert buffet by the pool. On most ships, you’ll also find free ice cream and several bars on the Lido Deck. You can’t lose!

2. Playtime

If you’re looking to spend the day in the sun—and here’s hoping you’ve got it for your vacation—the Lido Deck is the place where it’s at. The bigger ships will have at least two pools on the open-air Lido Deck. One is designated for adults only, while the other will be for families with children. There may also be an outdoor water park, climbing wall, mini golf course, basketball court, and more up on the Lido Deck.

3. Music

If you love music, the Lido Deck is the place to be. Many of the bigger ships have live bands playing throughout the day. Soul-soothing Caribbean sounds waft up through the air around you as you relax and enjoy the ambiance. On some of the smaller or more budget-friendly cruise lines, a DJ spins tunes in place of a band. This person will often take requests and tailor the music to the people he’s playing for. It sets a great vibe for the day.

4. Entertainment

There is no shortage on entertainment on the Lido Deck on a day at sea. Hairy chest contests, dance offs, ice carving demonstrations, and cocktail competitions are just a few of the fun activities you might find around the family pool. If you’re looking for peace and quiet, stick to the adult-only area because you won’t find it on the Lido Deck.

5. Movies

Dive-in theaters are common on most cruise ships. One of the pools will likely have a massive screen hanging just above it. Often, blockbuster movies play throughout the day and into the evening. You may even find a popcorn machine at one of the bars where you can grab a bag of buttery goodness to snack on while you watch the movie.

I usually make my way up to the Lido Deck bright and early on a sea day. I toss a towel over my favorite lounger and kick back with a good book and a nice cold bottle of water. I put my swimsuit on under my comfy clothes or cover up, pack a tote bag filled with everything I might need for the day, like sunscreen and my camera, and soak up the sun…okay, so I burn easily and most sit in the shade, but you get the gist.

What’s your favorite thing to do on the Lido Deck. Share your ideas with the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook group.

The Top Reason Cruises are Better than All-Inclusive Resorts

All-inclusive resorts are a great way to travel.

 

Once you’ve booked your vacation, you don’t have to spend another penny. Everything you could possibly want or need is part of your vacation packaged. From sun and fun to booze and food, there are no other expenses.

Cruises are very similar to all-inclusive resorts…only instead of being surrounded by sand, you’re surrounded by water. Like a completely self-sufficient, floating island. Like all-inclusives, the price you pay for your cruise includes everything you’ll need for a good time. Whether you want to lie around the pool and drink in the sun or dance the night away, you’ll find everything you need to have a good time on a cruise ship. And if you feel like splurging, there are a whole host of additional activities and services you can choose from. Spend a day at the spa or enjoy a gourmet meal at one of the specialty restaurants—the options are endless.

These days, most ocean-going ships are pretty stacked. Water parks, climbing walls, and mini golf are standard, all-inclusive features. Some even have ice rinks and circus tents. Most ships have multiple restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and swimming pools. There’s nightly turn-down service in your room, several swimming pools, daily dance classes and other activities, and much more. Most cruises don’t include alcohol in their list price, but they’re also much cheaper than many all-inclusives. And the good news is that you can buy a bottomless beverage package for a few extra bucks. Your travel agent can even book it for you so that you don’t have to open your wallet once you’re on the ship.

Each night on board a cruise ship, you’ll be entertained by live, Broadway-style shows. Cruise lines employee an entire team of talented singers and dancers to put on elaborate productions. They also fly in magicians, acrobats, comedians, and other performers to bring you a variety of entertainment options. But that’s not all, there are also house bands that play in the various venues around the ship. Styles range from rock to easy listening to ensure there is something for everyone.

While cruises share many of these things in common with all-inclusive resorts, there is one major difference. And in my opinion, it’s the top reason why a cruise is better than any all-inclusive resort you’ll ever visit. You travel someplace new each day!

Cruises are a great way to get a taste of several different places. For one affordable fare, you get to sample a variety of destinations. In the Mediterranean, you can travel through Greece, Italy, and Turkey all in one week, visiting the top attractions in several cities. Or, if you want to just lounge around by the pool all day, you can stay on board the ship.

Sure, you only spend a day—maybe two—in each place. But in some places, that’s more than enough to see all the sights. There are plenty of places I’ve thought about vacationing for a week or two, but thanks to cruising, I’ve visited those same places for a day and realized that was all I needed. On the flip side, if there are places you truly enjoy, you can revisit them on a future trip. It’s a win-win.

What’s your top reasoning why cruises are better than all-inclusives? Share your ideas with the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook group.

 

 

 

Swimwear: What to Wear Poolside on Vacation

Choosing the right swimwear for a week away is a daunting task.

 

No matter how much you work out or how body-confident you are, everyone gets anxiety over swimwear. Amplify this anxiety tenfold when you go on a beach vacation. Follow these easy tips to know just what you need to pack for a week anywhere there’s water.

swiwear

  1. Lazy Days

Will you be spending most of your vacation on the beach or poolside on a cruise ship? Then, swimwear should feature prominently in your suitcase. You’ll need several swimsuits in various styles. For a lazy week sunning yourself, it’s completely reasonable to pack three to five swimsuits. Keep in mind you can change-up the look by adding accessories, such as fun flip-flops, statement necklaces and cute kimonos, to a few neutral swimwear styles.

swimwear kimono

2. Bikini Babe

What’s your personal style? Are you at home exposing a little extra skin? Go for it! Just be sure to consider your surroundings when deciding how much skin to bare. If you’re on a family beach, opt for swimwear with a little more coverage. Try a brief-like bottom and fuller bra top. But if you’re on a beach in Rio, anything goes. Break out the thong, and have a blast.

swimwear bikini

3. Pretty One-Piece

At one time, one-pieces were considered a major faux pas. But not anymore. These days, comfort is king, so if you feel at home a little more covered up, fear not. There are so many options available, it’s almost impossible not to find one that flatters your figure. Fifties vintage swimsuits are adorable, but you can also get super sexy styles with cut outs and plunging necklines.

1 piece swimwear

4. Keep It Covered

Regardless of where you are, most places want you to cover up inside eateries. All this means is that you’ll need to shop for a few cute cover ups to throw over top of your swimwear. There are dozens of styles, from kimonos and muumuus to rompers and tunics. For evenings consider something with a little sparkle. Glittery stripes or an embellished neckline are a nice touch.

Keep in mind that cover ups offer a big benefit. Under the scorching sun, they add an extra layer of protection. Not to mention, if you’re feeling self-conscious about being half-naked in front of strangers, they can help you feel a bit more relaxed.swimwear coverup

5. Other Options

Not everyone wants to wear a swimsuit around the pool. And that’s okay. There are plenty of other outfits you can sport. Leggings and an oversized tee, cutoffs and a tank, or a flirty skirt with a cold-shoulder blouse are just a few fun options. The key is to be comfortable in whatever you wear.

swimwear shorts

Regardless of what you wear by the pool, your best accessories are sunscreen, a hat, and a trashy magazine. It’s all about finding your style and having fun with it. Do you have more swimwear advice? Use #wanderlustwayfarer to share your pictures on Instagram.