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7-step plan for a day at the beach

A picture of a beach with long beach chairs and wooden parasols. There's a small patch of green vegetation to the left.

Right, destination Portugal is a possibility and we’re heading there en masse. After such a looong winter in the UK we’re looking forward to sunshine that actually feels warm in the skin. And Portugal definitely provides that! However, we need to be mindful that our bodies and minds will be experiencing not just a dramatic climate change but also a change from busy schedules to complete relaxation. We need to look after ourselves and based on years of experience living in warm climate, I’ve outlined a 7-step plan for a day at the beach.

Plan the day

Seems a bit obvious but not all beaches are the same. How are you going to get there? How and where can you get beach towels? Are there any restaurants nearby? How expensive are they? Are there changing facilities? Is there first aid available? How accessible is the beach? If you’re driving: is there parking and is it free? If getting a bus: check out times and alternatives should anything happen. Make sure you have enough information about the place you’re heading to so you can cater for anything additional you may need on the day.

Hydration, hydration, hydration

This is one of the main priorities. Unfortunately I’ve seen – and I’m sure you have as well – enough people pass out by the water due to dehydration (the irony). Holidays are a time to relax and to forget the pressure of unrealistic work deadlines, management pressure, etc. We all enjoy a few glasses of fizz at the beach, but even under the shade we’re exposed to dehydration from extreme heat. So, enjoy as much as you can, but drink water regularly. For each sip of fizz have two of H2O. No excuses, just drink water! It also helps minimise the effects of a hangover, so nothing to lose here 😉

Juicy bites

A day at the beach isn’t successful without a bite or two, but under extreme heat and a few dives in the water how much or little is appropriate? Everyone’s different and digest food differently so don’t go starving or get sick from over indulging because of some guru advice. Some foods are easier to process and you’ll know what’s best for you.

What will never go wrong is some fruit: it’s fresh, it’s juicy, it’s sweet – it will help keep you hydrated whilst being light and kind in the stomach. Fresh oranges and grapes can do wonders, but go for whatever you like if you’re feeling peckish and a heavier snack would end up making you feel uncomfortable. Just take fruit along with you! Most hotels already cater for some beach packed snacks, so go ahead and ask. Alternatively you can get something from a local market.

Dress in style and comfort

When it comes to style you know my stance: express yourself. Bold prints, stripes, whatever you want and feel comfortable, confident and beautiful in. But please, please, please make sure the only stretch material you’ll be wearing for a day at the beach is the bathing suit. Any layers of clothing you take to the beach over your bathing suit need to be proper breathable material, otherwise drinking water alone may not suffice.

It’s important to keep your body temperature under control and a breathable fabric will definitely help with that. Just check out the locals and what they wear: linens and cottons will probably account for 90% of the outfits around. The locals live with such temperatures day after day, so trust their judgement on this one.

Radiant skin

First, sunscreen. This is a must and I don’t think I know anyone who would forget it, but still… don’t forget it. Ideally nothing under factor 30. Even if you feel it isn’t too warm put some sunscreen on. The breeze may be deceiving and lead you to misjudge how strong the sun is.

Second, a light long sleeve cardigan or tunic or even shawl to protect your shoulders, arms and neck if you’re sitting outside for a relaxed meal. Linen is ideal here (Flora Cardigan anyone?) as it’s very light, stylish and cool in extreme weather. I can’t live without my long sleeve linen shirts or cardigans when spending a holiday back home. Sunburn savers and easier to brush off unwanted sand!

Catch up with reading

A day at the beach is great to just chill out and read something light or listen to some upbeat music. Most likely there will be music coming from every beach bar, so save your technology for sand-free environments as much as possible. My recommendation is catching-up with reading in paper format! Sand gets everywhere and the glare of the sun will make reading an absolute chore. It doesn’t matter if these e-readers come with lots of anti-glare functionality and some top-notch sand repellent system… Simple paper is the solution. Dust off some books from the shelf or get yourself some magazines/newspapers and bring them along to the beach.

A bag for belongings

Regardless of how simple we want to make it, a day at the beach still requires some personal belongings. At least mobile phones, hotel keys and some form of money, but also where else would you take everything else outlined above? Find something that won’t let the sand through (which means no straw bags at least without lining) and has proper closures to keep your belongings safe.

Obviously, everyone’s different and the list may vary. I came across this 2016 article that shares first hand what a day at the beach is like for some people with disabilities. Check it out. It has some great advice & information and the pictures are stunning. These steps are merely here to help you plan ahead based on your personal circumstances. Above all, go and enjoy your free time. We’ve been restricted for far too long now and need that vitamin D to do its magic.

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