Top tips for going to the beach

There’s still some time this year to visit European beaches, and now that the children are going back to school, the beaches will be a bit quieter and the flights will be a bit cheaper! Here’s how to get the best out of your beach holiday.

Find the best beach
It’s well worth asking the locals where the best beach is. Often you’ll find that locals know the best spots and will be able to tell you which beach has the best sand, the warmest water, or the least amount of tourists. Ask the people who work in your hotel or in local restaurants.

Sit close to an obvious landmark
You’ve arrived at the beach, and you’re figuring out where to sit. Sitting close to a tall or obvious landmark will make it much easier to find your spot again when you’ve gone swimming or walking, particularly when the beach is busy.

Find the shade
Even on a cloudy day, the sun will hit your skin, and you occasionally need to take a break from direct sunlight. Cloudy days can be deceptive: you don’t think it’s too sunny, and you end up with sunburn! The same goes for a cooling breeze, which makes it harder to realise how quickly you are burning. So even though you’re wearing sun cream, stick an umbrella in the sand and sit in the shadow from time to time.

Apply enough sun cream
Most people don’t apply enough sun cream on their skin to be adequately protected. Although the sun has many benefits, such as helping our body to generate Vitamin D, taking in too many UV rays can cause skin cancer. So make sure you apply enough sun cream with a high SPF, and top it up regularly, especially after swimming. If you’re going in the water, use a waterproof sun cream.

Remember that sun cream often needs around 30 minutes after you apply it before it becomes effective, so put it on before you leave the hotel.

Drink water
Your body dehydrates faster when you’re baking in the sun. So drink water every 30 minutes, especially when you’ve been walking or swimming. Remeber that sea salt will dehydrate you, so drink often. A headache can be an early warning sign of dehydration, so drink more water before you take the headache tablets!

Interestingly, as we get older, our kidneys work less effectively and need more water to do their job. We also don’t begin to sweat until our body gets to a higher core temperature than in younger people.

Look at the warning flag for swimming
Before you go for a swim, look at the warning flag. Don’t go swimming when the red or yellow flag is out. Even when the flag is green, be cautious when going for a swim. And when the flag is a different colour, ask the lifeguard what it means. If in doubt, look for a sign that explains the flags, or ask for help. Stick to the designated swimming areas only; beyond these, there could be strong currents.

Swim where the lifeguard can see you
Finally, it’s always advisable to stay and swim where the lifeguard can see you. Don’t swim too far from their line of sight. If something happens, they’ll be there to help you.

Put your phone and camera in a Ziploc bag
Sand doesn’t go well with technology: it can end up in one of your phone’s ports, or it can scratch your phone’s screen. But a small plastic Ziploc bag can quickly make your phone, camera, or Kindle mostly sand-proof and waterproof. (Even so, you’ve still got to take care!) Depending on the make of phone you have, you might not be able to use the touchscreen through the bag, but it will at least help to keep the phone from getting damaged.

Pack spare battery power for your gadgets
If you’re going to be using your phone or iPad a lot on the beach, perhaps for reading, you don’t want it to run out of batteries. Modern phones don’t usually allow the battery to be easily swapped, but you can take a small portable battery pack with you, and use your normal charger cable to connect the battery pack to your device.

Rechargeable battery packs are very cheap now. We’ve had success with the Anker Astro E1 5200mAh (£11.99) and the higher-powered Anker Astro E1 6700mAh (£17.99), both of which will charge an iPhone around twice. (The higher the mAh, the more electricity the battery can hold.) When you get back to your hotel, you just charge up the battery pack again.

So why not see if you can fit in a trip to the beaches of Europe in the next month or two?