John Higgins7, M.D., sports cardiologist with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth in Houston, Texas, says your stomach absorbs cool water more easily (compared to ice cold or warm water), which will help you feel cooler. He recommends taking an ice chest with plenty of water to the beach. (You can also store water-packed fruits like watermelon and strawberries in your cooler to snack on, which can help with hydration. Or, you can store cold towels in your chest to wear around your neck, which helps lower your body temperature and prevents worsening of dehydration.)
If you don’t feel thirsty, you’re drinking water regularly, and your urine is clear or light yellow, then you are probably staying hydrated, according to the Mayo Clinic3. Alternatively, you may be dehydrated if you feel fatigued, confused, have a dry mouth, your urine is dark, or if you don’t urinate at all, according to the Cleveland Clinic8.
3. Watch your alcohol consumption.
Drinking alcohol on your beach trip can make you feel exhausted and just all-around down for several reasons, starting with dehydration. This happens because alcohol suppresses a hormone that helps your body hold onto water, Dr. Higgins explains. And if you’re drinking in the sun, it’s important to really pay attention to how you feel and watch for signs of dehydration. If you are someone who drinks, it’s best to limit your alcohol intake to the recommended moderate amounts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention9 (CDC), moderate drinking means having two drinks or less per day for people assigned male at birth and one drink or less per day for people assigned female at birth. For context, one alcoholic drink is roughly 12 fluid ounces of beer, 5 fluid ounces of wine, or 1.5 fluid ounces of liquor, according to the CDC.
Drinking in moderation will also help you avoid hangovers, which can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, nausea, and fatigue, all of which can be especially terrible during a multi-day beach vacation.
Additionally, drinking one full serving of water for every alcoholic beverage you consume can help prevent dehydration and hangovers, according to the Cleveland Clinic10. Other practices that can help you avoid hangovers include eating before drinking alcohol and limiting your drinks to one per hour, according to the Cleveland Clinic10.
4. Don’t forget to eat.
Regardless of whether you drink alcohol, eating before you head to the beach can help you avoid developing low blood sugar, which can make you feel sluggish, irritable, and shaky, according to the Mayo Clinic11. If you’re not hungry at the time, try packing a few simple snacks, like fruit, granola bars, or any other foods you enjoy, in your cooler and eat when you feel up to it.
Dr. Higgins says it helps to think about how your daily activities may affect your hunger and energy needs. “You need to get energy at the beach, especially if you are swimming or playing beach volleyball,” Dr. Higgins tells SELF. Participating in activities like volleyball and swimming uses up more of your energy, so you may feel really hungry or tired if you don’t eat enough. Everyone’s calorie and dietary needs differ, and there are other factors to consider when making sure you’re fueling well for beach fun, like the timing of when you eat. For example, if you’re eating a couple of hours before being active, then your body has enough time to digest a meal that includes carbohydrates, protein, and fat. But if you only have about 30 minutes before hitting the sand for some physical activity, you might want to stick with something like a banana because your body generally digests carbohydrates quickly. Here’s more guidance on what to eat before working out, whether you’re on the beach or not.
5. Protect your skin.
We can’t discuss beach tips without talking about the importance of protecting your skin against the sun. Wearing sunscreen is one of the simplest ways to do this. The American Academy of Dermatology12 (AAD) recommends that everyone wear sunscreen to help reduce their risks of getting skin cancer. (There’s a prevalent myth that people with darker skin tones don’t need to worry about getting skin cancer, but it’s really important that everyone protects their skin.)