floats and buckets and all things beach


Nothing says summer (or end of summer) like a trip to the beach, and as all parents of young children know, a beach trip with kids requires gear. Lots of gear. With four kids in the pool and several beach trips this summer, I knew our beach gear budget could easily get out of control, so I hustled a bit as soon as summer products were stocked to ensure that we would have fun gear at a low price.

For a trip to the beach, we find it easier if each child has their own bucket for the sand and float for the pool. And once you blow up that float or fill that bucket with sand, you know it’s never going to pack correctly again. Below is the strategy I used this year that worked really well for us.

  • In the spring, get a good idea of how many times we would go to the beach this summer. For us, we were looking at three or four trips.
  • For each trip, I plan to get one bucket and one new float per child. So, I was looking for 16 buckets and 16 floats for our family trips.
  • Watch your local Dollar Tree and hit it up as soon as they stock their pool supplies. Their floats are just $1 each….with four kids, that’s a huge savings! We’ve found some really fun designs there, including pizza, orange slices, watermelon, donuts, and ocean creatures. They also have great buckets and usually have more than one style. This year our favorites were the glitter buckets and the tie-dyed ones that looked like castles.
    • One note on the Dollar Tree floats is that they are not the best option for bigger kids. They typically stock 20 inch and 30 inch round floats, which are idea for kids up to around 8-years-old.
    • If you have older kids, I would check out the selection at Five Below. They have some adorable summer floats that would even work for adults, with nothing costing more than $5–still a great price! (They still have several options in stock on their website!)
  • Purchase the number of floats and buckets you need all in one trip. The one downside of discount stores is that they usually don’t restock, so you have to grab seasonal items while they are available. I bout all 32 of my buckets and floats in May, and while I may have looked like a crazy person walking out of the store, I only spent $32 on all the beach necessities for our summer trips!
  • While you’re in the store, check out the other goodies. You can usually find diving toys, water squirters, and all sorts of other fun items!
  • Store the buckets and floats somewhere that your kids won’t get into them. The whole point is to have clean, nicely folded items that are easy to pack!
  • When it’s time for your trip, simply pull out one set of goodies–your kids will be excited and you’ll be thankful that you aren’t scrambling around or purchasing things at overpriced beach stores!
  • Note- I even take our own buckets on plane trips. If you stack them together and pack clothes inside, they barely take up any room, and since they were only $1 I don’t sweat leaving them at the hotel at the end of our trip. While in Mexico, we noticed that buckets in the resort gift shop were around $8/each, so we saved $28 by packing our own!

While this information is most useful in the spring, many families still have one more vacation planned or are heading somewhere tropical for fall break or the holidays. Hit up the end of season sales, grab some summer goodies before they are all replaced with pumpkins, and rest easy knowing that you’ve already prepared for your adventure.

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