Monday, June 9, 2014

How to Pack the Perfect Beach Bag

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Pool season officially begins tomorrow, and to say that I'm excited would be an understatement. While the city pools wouldn't exactly be my first choice of swimming destinations, Chris and I have learned that when you suddenly find yourselves eight hours (or more) from the ocean on a 90 degree day, beggars can't be choosers.

To me, a summer without swimming isn't really a summer at all. When we lived in New England, I practically lived at the beach. Biking to our secret (actually not so secret) beach was my go-to activity if I didn't have plans, and besides my family and friends it's what I miss most about living there. But hey, the Pittsburgh city pools aren't half bad -- there's even one with WiFi, you know, if you're feeling brave and like you want to sit poolside with a laptop -- and on a weekend afternoon, Ohiopyle State Park offers a good fresh-water alternative.

So, in honor of beach pool season, I'm showing you what's in my beach bag. Because an afternoon pool-side requires more than just water:
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Bag: This big, straw bag is perfect for packing up everything I need for the pool, and when I'm not using it, it serves double duty as a nice looking storage basket for our exercise equipment at home. I thrifted this one, but this is also a nice option, and when you're actually at the ocean, you can't go wrong with a canvas boat tote, which keeps your stuff protected from the sand.

Bikini: I'm a bikini girl. I've tried one-pieces, but I just never feel that comfortable in them, somehow they make me feel especially self-conscious, despite having more coverage. So, bikinis it is, but every year I set out in search of the perfect two-piece, and every year I come up short, settling for one that's cute, but not quite what I wanted. My main complaint is that it's difficult to find a non-triangle top that doesn't come with an underwire and/or a ton of padding (I like being flat chested and don't want a bunch of foam strapped to my chest to get in the way of my good time). I prefer simple, throwback silhouettes, so when Zinke sent me this reversible suit, I was elated. I love the pattern and simple design, and it's super comfortable.

Dress & Sandals: Despite the fact that I'm up and ready to swim by 8 a.m. on the weekends, the pools here don't open until 1pm (I blame the teenage lifeguards), which means prior to that is prime brunch time. Come summer, I practically live in loose white dresses and sandals, which also happen to be the perfect thing to throw on over a swim suit for a pre-pool breakfast date. These Seychelles sandals are dressier than flip-flops, but just as comfortable and -- in my opinion -- easier to walk in (these would also be a cute and comfortable option).

Books: Having been an avid reader in the past, one of my goals this summer is to get back into it and read more. I've been hitting up the library and keeping my eye out for titles that catch my eye at the thrift store, one of which was this Donna Tartt book, The Secret History. And while I love a good novel to keep me busy pool-side, sometimes there's nothing better than a magazine.

Sunglasses: Big, round sunglasses with a plastic frame mean I don't have to worry about them getting bent out of shape when I toss them in with everything else. And carrying a cheaper pair with me when I'm at the pool means that if they get stolen or somehow ruined, it's not as big a deal as if I'd brought a pricier pair.

Sun protection: Sunscreen & lip balm, always and for obvious protective reasons.

Snacks: I almost always have emergency snacks on hand. Chris does too, because when I get hungry, I get ... not so fun to be around. Kind Bars are tasty, but my go-to is Lara Bars, which have fewer ingredients and no additives.

Water Bottle: I always carry this big Nalgene with me, which holds a whopping 32+ ounces of water. My goal is to drink two or three of them a day, especially in the summer when dehydration sneaks up easily.
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In my bag: Dress: Mink Pink (similar) // Sandals: Seychelles (c/o) // Bag: Thrifted (similar) // Suit: Zinke (c/o) // Sunglasses: Lulu's (c/o) // Water Bottle: Nalgene //Lip Balm: EOS // Sunscreen: Hawaiian Tropic