Getting in Gear: Essential Equipment for an Excellent Beach Vacation
The last few months have been a bit stressful, to say the least, and with the thousand and one worries and distractions I was facing, I couldn’t help but think of the opening lines of a William Wordsworth poem: “The world is too much with us; late and soon,/ Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; —/ Little we see in Nature that is ours.”
So our yearly beach vacation was much needed (and very much enjoyed by all). And apparently, we weren’t the only ones! Several other columnists have also been on the road recently, writing about how to combat fatigue while on vacation, as well as offering advice about new gizmos to deal with MS and heat sensitivity and to stay cool during the summer months.
I was born in Arkansas, but raised in Florida, and throughout my childhood, I spent almost as much time in the ocean as I did on land. But sadly, that’s not the case these days. (Not being near water is one of the few drawbacks of living in Atlanta.) So I spend a lot of time prepping to make sure I can spend as much time on the beach as possible when we’re in Treasure Island, Florida, our preferred spot.
One thing we’ve figured out over the years is that having the right gear is essential. Of course, I must worry about the heat, due to MS and heat sensitivity. That means a tent is essential. However, the tent we’ve been using — one of those 10-by-10-feet monstrosities that unfold like an octopus and weigh a metric ton — wasn’t really cutting it. We exhausted ourselves just dragging it down the beach and getting it set up!
I decided that we had to find something lighter and easier to transport, and I found the perfect solution. It’s called the Sun Ninja tent, and it’s simply amazing. It folds down into a bag small enough for my younger son to carry, and it is super easy to set up and tear down. Because I’m in the shade and comfortable, I don’t have to cut my beach day short!
The other thing we had to rethink was the cooler. We like to have plenty of sodas, water, and adult beverages to choose from throughout the day, but a hard, plastic cooler full of drinks and ice was a real pain to lug down the beach every day. After much hemming and hawing, we decided to go all in and purchased a Yeti backpack cooler and ice packs. (We don’t have this one. Ours is a slightly older model, but I’m sure this one works great, too.) The thing was a little heavy when it was fully packed, but my older son was more than able to carry it on his back. It kept the drinks cool all day, and there was no leaky ice to deal with when we got home.
Living with MS requires adaptation. Sometimes, that means changing your plans entirely, and other times, only a few tweaks are required to keep the party going. Thanks to our tent and cooler, we were able to get to our spot and set up quickly, keeping the threat of fatigue in check and ensuring that we all had an excellent day on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. Being able to relax and not worry about work (or MS) was exactly what I needed.
Are you a fan of the beach? What are your “must-haves” for a day spent seaside? I’d love to hear what’s worked for you so I can keep refining our gear. Tell me all about it in the comments!
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