Beach lovers, rejoice! Now that the days are getting warmer, the ocean’s call is getting stronger and stronger. Nothing beats a day of sea, sand, sun and scrumptious snacks, right? At least, that’s how you probably rolled when you were younger; little to no planning and plenty of freedom. Well, tempting as it is, you’ll find that the beach loses all its fun when you travel with the whole family and no action plan, even after you pick “the perfect spot”.

We’ve compiled a list of beach camping and day trip ideas to make your life a little easier to plan and much, much more fun for everyone involved. Maybe you’ll find that, with a little planning, even the biggest families can have a memorable, tear-free day at the beach. Let’s check it out!

Sunscreen, first and foremost

The very first thing you should consider when planning a day at the beach is sunscreen. Get your recommended SPF for the whole family (higher for faces and noses), and remember to apply before setting foot in the sand, or you’ll be smearing a yucky mix, of course, sandy cream on yourself all day. Re-apply at various times during the day, particularly towards noon when the sun is hotter.

Check the weather and pick a date

Checking the weather forecast is a step you shouldn’t skip if you want to fully prepare for everything during your trip. Make sure that the highest and lowest expected temperatures aren’t too extreme for the family, or if light rains are in store. Also, be aware that hurricane season spans from the beginning of June to the end of November in the U.S., so plan your trip accordingly, and be prepared to re-schedule or cancel if there’s a warning for the area.

Easy food makes for easy trips

Repeat after us: Only bring finger foods. They make life easier for everyone! Individual bags of chips, chilled and chopped fruit, nuts, small sandwiches, you can get creative with it, but the bottom line is that you should think of foods that are easy to prepare, store and transport. The beach is a pretty hostile environment to most foods, with all the sand, wind and heat, so keeping things simple is key. But, if you need a good excuse to cut the day short, pack just enough for a midday snack then get ready to leave when the family starts to get really hungry.

Make a checklist

No matter how many members are in your beach-going party, a basic necessities checklist will make your life so much easier. Make sure to include bathing suits, tent or umbrella, sandals and flip-flops, an extra change of clothes, towels, lots of bottled water, cooler for your food, tote or gym bags for dirty clothes, trash bags, hats and shades, and insect repellent. If there’s anything more you think you’ll need, or if a family member has special needs, don’t forget to add them into the list. If you’re planning on spending the night at the site, then be sure to triple check that list, because all the things to bring for camping on the beach are that much more critical.

Plan the trip over and back

Nothing ruins a fun, family beach day like being stuck in traffic for hours and missing all the good spots when you finally get there. Okay, no one likes to wake up at 6 AM on a Saturday, but it’ll help you avoid the morning traffic. The earlier you leave, the better, but if a little traffic is unavoidable, don’t forget to bring a couple of things for the kids and other passengers to distract themselves. Anything from books and toys to a portable video game console or movie player will do. Of course, the latter two aren’t things that you’ll want to get full of sand, and if you don’t trust the area enough to leave them in the car, then stick to the classics.

Like we said at the beginning, nothing beats a fun day at the beach with the whole family, but a good deal of planning is required if you want to prevent any of the thousand things that can go wrong. Don’t be afraid to mix our tips with anything you see coming up in your own experience; the point of this list is to give you a solid base for you to work on your own afterward. Also, if you still want to make sure that your chores are taken care of without skipping the beach day, how about letting a team of pros handle them for you?