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  1. Things to Do

How to pack for a beach day with your sanity intact

Beach bag on the sand.
Published May 17, 2017

Did you know we're already having unheard of heat?

Forecasters predicted highs would reach record levels all week. Thursday, the temperature is expected to crawl past the previous record and hit at least 94.

So, just for you, food critic Laura Reiley has rounded up some delicious yet adventurous ways to cool off. For this guide to chillaxing, she looked outside the cone and into Tampa Bay's alterna-treats, from Thai rolled ice cream to Hawaiian shave ice.

After you stop at Rita's or Snobachi, it's probably time to hit the beach. But, we need to talk. Beaching, along with camping and basically any outdoor activity that requires setup, can feel totally exhausting and cumbersome. Why is it so much work to connect with nature?

I always end up with the bread at the bottom of the cooler, wet and smashed. I remember six magazines, but forget something vital, like sunscreen.

We're all about hot tips here, so we enlisted Tampa Bay parenting expert Angela Ardolino of parentingwithangela.com, where she hosts a weekly online parenting show. And, she's an experienced cooler packer. Herewith, her advice for not going brain-drippy in this crazy heat.

What are the essentials to pack if you're with family?

First, find a safe, nontoxic sunscreen. Remember hats, sunglasses and clothing to help protect. And water, nonperishable snacks and toys.

What's one thing to keep in your cooler to keep kids happy?

Water with fruit in it, which you can prepare the day before. And containers with easy finger foods.

What should you leave behind?

Electronics! Don't go on a family outing and spend all your time taking photos or looking at your phone.

What's a way to avoid bringing too much?

I like to portion out everything into several small food containers with nonperishables like grapes, cucumber slices, pasta salad, edamame, nuts and pretzels to encourage all-day snacking.

If you're going to the beach solo or in a couple, can you make it in one bag?

Heck, yeah! Or stop by your favorite eatery and get something to go.

What are your favorite products for packing food and drinks?

The Yeti Hopper. Ice stays ice for days in this bag.

If you get to the beach and realize you've forgotten something, what do you do?

Deal with it. Get creative. I love to come up with fun things for my kids to do before we get to the beach. Like search for treasure, build something, investigate creatures, collect shells.

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