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Gettyimages.com/Two beautiful young back women at the beach laying on a blanket in the sand.

When I think of a beach day, I think of a day that is totally care-free—a day on which I don’t need to think about clocks or to-do lists or responsibilities. Then when I go to the beach I remember oh yeah you actually need to do a lot of planning if you’re going to enjoy this. Before I know it, I need a dozen things I don’t have. I need to pee, but I set up my area too far from the restrooms because I wanted isolation. I need the wind to get off my back (literally) but I forgot an umbrella, or the one I packed is flimsy. I’m hungry and thirsty but all of my goodies have melted in my bag. There is actually such a thing as being good at going to the beach. And I’m, well, not. But I’m working on it so that I don’t come back from what’s meant to be a relaxing day in the sun-hungry and irritated both emotionally and physically. Here are 15 things you should always have in your beach bag.

Gettyimages.com/sandals on the beach

Stable sandals

Get sandals that wrap around the back of your ankle. Simple thong-style sandals can slide around when you walk on uneven ground like the sand, and expose you to broken glass, animal feces, and many of the other wonderful things left on the beach. You can also walk in the ocean with these on, without fear of having them wash away.

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