Things you should bring going to the beach

It's beach weather at last! Don't screw it up. There's nothing like arriving at the beach and realizing you forgot something important -- that can ruin your whole day. Here are ten things that must go into your beach bag, or, you know, in the bag of whoever you're making carry your stuff.

1. Sunscreen.
At the risk of oversimplifying: Duh, you need sunscreen. Also, don't forget to bring something a little nicer for the sensitive skin on your face, too.

2. Bug spray.
You never know when you're going to be eaten alive. Oh wait, yes you do -- it's when you spend any length of time outside. Pack bug spray.

3. A pail and shovel.
... or something that can be used as a pail and shovel (coffee cups, butter knives, spoons, mixing bowls, etc.). You'll be so bummed if you get there and realize you are going to have to make a sandcastle freehand.

4. Snacks.
You can pay a lot of money at the beach, or you can pack a picnic and save your cash for ice cream cones and tipping people who offer to take your picture while you're holding a monkey (true story). I choose the latter.

5. Beverages.
Water, water, water. Also, depending on your level of beach sophistication, you may need a bottle of something a little stronger. If you're big into water sports, Gatorade or another electrolyte-balancing drink may also be helpful.

6. Music.
Whether it's your boom box from 1983 that still works (sort of) or your ipod and a pair of earbuds, make sure you have your ideal music selection picked out and ready to play.

7. A book or magazine.
The beach is the one place you can read anything from US Weekly to chick lit and comic books, and no one will judge you. Beach reading is a genre sans snobbery.

8. Sunglasses and hat.
Got a great pair of sunglasses? Don't forget them! Have you been waiting all winter to use that beach hat you got for Christmas? Don't forget that, either!

9. Flip flops.
Changing when you get there? Never go in public without heels? Hate driving with naked feet? Don't forget your flip flops, or some shoes you can wear in the water and rough up.

10. Beach games.
Take a mental inventory of your game closet. Do you have paddleball? Badminton racquets? A soccer ball? A surfboard? Consider what you have and hit a Target or Walgreens on your way if necessary to complete your game set. Beach games are fun and healthy.

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