By Michele Koh Morollo
Travel light but smart on your next beach holiday.
For those living in Asia, beach vacations are very popular, thanks to easy access to a wide variety of close-by destinations, cheap airfares and hotels. Places like Phuket, Bali, Boracay, Nha Trang, Langkawi and Bintan are hotspots for Asian-based travellers who plan impromptu weekend getaways as often as once a month! As most budget airlines only allow one carry-on luggage for free, many wise weekend beach bums have learnt how to travel super light. Those who don't need that many creature comforts can manage well for three to four days on nothing more than a lightweight canvas backpack. But no matter how lightly you pack, here are ten beach vacation essentials that you simply cannot do without.
Bringing your swimsuit may sound like common sense, but do you really need to bring an extra set? You'll be in your bikini or trunks a lot on a beach vacation, so unless you want to wear something that is damp and cold the next morning, it's a good idea to bring at least two swimsuits so you always have a dry and comfortable one when the other is wet.
Beach fashion should be cool, lightweight, and easy to remove and put on are, and nothing is as quick to take on and off than a sarong. Sarong's are very versatile. They can double up as a beach blanket, or a towel, and when you drop by the beach resort's outdoor café for lunch, it will keep you appropriately covered. Most lightweight sarongs also dry quickly, so you won't have to worry about getting them wet.
You've heard about the dangers of UV rays and how the sun damages your skin. It's all true! So prevent freckles, blemishes, premature wrinkling and skin cancer by slathering your face, neck and whole body with an SPF 40 sun block. Reapply the block every 30 minutes. You can't afford to leave this item at home!
Too much sun and salt water will leave your lips feeling and looking dry. Keep them moisturized with an SPF lip balm.
Leave-in Hair Conditioner
As with your skin and lips, the sun has a damaging and dehydrating effect on your hair too and can strip it of its natural oils and leave it looking bleached. When heading out into the sunshine, give your hair extra protection by using a leave-in conditioner.
Waterproof Flip Flops
For footwear, your best bet are waterproof flip flops. These keep your feet dry, cool and well ventilated. Leave your leather pumps or suede sneakers at home. You won't want to suffer that unpleasant damp shoe smell when you retire to your hotel room! If you're planning on doing some hiking or sand dune exploring, Crocs and waterproof sport sandals with straps that support the heel are better than regular lace-up track shoes.
When all the clouds disappear and the sun is shinning in full force, your head and face are where you'll feel the most heat. To prevent heatstroke and a head that feels like it's baking, bring a nice big-rimmed hat. You can also plop it over your face for extra shade. Fishing hats or panama hats are great choices for men, while wide-brimmed floppy hats give ladies a glamourous edge.
If you don't want to squint while sun tanning, bring along a pair of sunglasses. The kind that filters our UV rays is best.
If you're staying at a quality resort hotel, you might not need these. But if you are roughing it out at a local village beachside hut or something more rudimentary, then it's a good idea to bring your own beach towel.
When you hit the beach, you'll probably want to stake out your own slice of real estate. That's just one reason you'll need a beach blanket. Beach blankets also keep sand off your body, serve as a picnic "table" for your snacks and water, and doubles up as a sun 'bed' where you can tan.
A Book or Magazine
While working on your tan, you'll need some form of entertainment, so bring along a good paperback novel or your favourite magazine to read while you soak up the rays.
Aloe Vera Moisturizer
While applying sunscreen diligently should prevent sunburn, you'll want to be prepared just in case you accidentally doze off and wake up lobster red. Aloe vera is the best remedy for soothing sun burnt skin and helping it to heal quicker, so be sure to bring a tube along with you.
If you're only bringing a carry-on bag, make sure that your sunscreen, leave-in conditioner and aloe vera gel is packed in containers of no more than three ounces.