When you’re finally ready to head out and explore the area’s stunning beaches, you’ll want to be prepared. And we’re not talking sunscreen and floppy hats prepared. We’re talking keep-your-drinks-ice-cold-all-day kind of prepared. But getting food and drinks from your vacation home out to the perfect sandy spot on the beach takes some planning. Convenience is your friend when it comes to packing a cooler to the beach, so we’re sharing 5 cooler hacks to make sure your cooler does its job while you enjoy the sand and the sun.
Most vacation homes don’t provide a cooler for guests to use, so make sure you ask before your beach day. This way, you avoid scrambling to the store last minute to buy one, only to settle for one of those lousy styrofoam coolers. Renting a cooler ahead of time means it’ll already be at your rental when you need it, so you can fill it up and head on out.
Tip # 1: Ice, Ice, Baby
A cooler’s primary goal is to keep things cold. Really cold. And there are many ways to do so, some smarter than others. You could empty the ice machine at your rental, but then you may have to wait a while for it to make more ice for the latter part of your day. Instead, buy a pack of water balloons, fill them with water and store them in the freezer the night before your beach day. Place them in the cooler around your food and drinks to keep everything chilled. Big chunks of ice like this take longer to melt, so your food and beverages stay surrounded by ice for a significant part of the day. Then, towards the end of the day when everyone is hot and sandy, use the melted balloons for an icy cold water balloon fight!
If you don’t have an extra package of water balloons lying around, you can create your own block of ice another way. See if your rental has a large Tupperware box (or bring one from home) and fill it with ice and freeze it overnight. Arrange your food and drinks around the block of ice to keep it cold, and when it melts all the water will be contained instead of spilling all over your chips and sandwiches.
Tip #2: Maximize Your Space
Getting creative with the cooler space you have is one way to make the most out of your favorite beach accessory. Use velcro stickers to stick a gallon sized Ziplock bag to the inside lid of the cooler. Use this to store napkins, straws, cutlery and condiment packets, so they don't get lost at the bottom. When it comes to maximizing your cooler space, try this popular method to ensure the items that need to stay cold the longest are in right areas:
- Ice on the bottom
- Meats and cheeses
- More ice
- Dairy and salads (egg salad, tuna salad, etc.)
- Produce and drinks
- More ice
Avoid pockets of air and fill the cooler with as much as you can to keep things at the right temperature. And speaking of space, find a space for your cooler that is out of the direct sunlight to keep everything inside cold for as long as possible.
Tip #3: Stay Organized
Organization is key in a successful beach trip. Try a few of these easy tricks to keep your cooler organized and avoid a big, disorganized mess at the end of the day as you’re trying to pack up:
Write out a list of what’s in the cooler, put it in a transparent plastic sheet or Ziplock bag, and tape it to the top of the cooler. This way you know what’s in there and can cross items off of the list as you take them out. If you come to the beach with 6 Tupperware containers, you can make sure you go home with the same amount.
Bringing two coolers, one for food and one for drinks, is a great way to stay organized and make more room for both items. The drink cooler will probably be opened more often, so keeping your food and snacks in a separate cooler prevents the food from continuous exposure to warm air and sunlight.
Tip #4: Be Proactive In The Clean Up
After a long day on the beach, you may be tempted to throw everything in the cooler and head home for a shower and a nap. However, taking a few minutes while you’re at the beach to clean up the cooler can save you time at home, and avoid forgetting about it and dealing with nasty food later on. Throw trash away while you’re still at the beach and dump water and ice out to prevent spills in the car. A beach shower is a great place to rinse out the cooler. If there’s room, you can use the extra space in the cooler to store towels or beach toys for an easy trek back to the car. Doing these few little steps before you get home can save you time and hassle in the long run.
Tip #5: A Beach Cart Is A Cooler’s Best Friend
A cooler with durable wheels is a must for a stress-free trip to the beach. This will make getting your box of beach goodies through the sand and to your spot much more manageable. People who rent coolers usually rent beach carts too, as it makes it easy to pull full coolers, tired kids and beach toys to and from the car. Combine these two popular beach accessories for easy transport, cleanup, and organization!
If you can picture yourself sipping a cold drink, biting into a delicious sandwich and feeding your hungry crew of beachcombers during your next vacation, you’re going to need a cooler. Why worry about lugging yours from home when you can rent one and have it ready for you at your rental?