How to travel on a beach day

The number of vacation days you have is already limited, so why write off travel days as time only spent getting from point A to point B. Make the most of your last day in a destination by hitting the beach or enjoying the nightlife — or both.

We’ve all been there. Going to the beach after you check out of your hotel can be a conundrum. Whether you have to jump on a plane later that day, or plan to head out on the town for the night, many think forgoing the sand and salt is the only solution. Going straight from the beach to a night out before hopping on a red-eye seems like more trouble than it’s worth and you end up wasting the day away pre-flight.

But we quickly realized, enough is enough. We refuse to let the lack of a hotel room stand in our way of enjoying our vacay to the fullest. From places to shower, to tips and tricks for freshening up on the fly, here is how to travel on a beach day and make the most of your precious time in paradise.

Places to take a shower/freshen up

Nothing feels as fantastic as a refreshing shower after a day of fun in the sun. Try these places to freshen up.

  • Hit the gym: Checking into a gym for an hour or an afternoon not only provides a clean and comfortable place to take a shower, but also comes with the added bonus of getting your gym time in during your vacation. It’s easy to find a gym: the YMCA has 2,700 locations in the U.S. and many locations offer days passes for non-members, like the YMCA of Northwest Louisiana where guests can buy a day pass for $10 and the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington where visitors can request a free three-day pass.
  • Check into a spa: What is a vacation without a spa day (or two)? Book a spa outing to enjoy a relaxing shower before a soothing massage. Just be sure the spa has showers. Bliss Spa has 21 locations around the world, most with steam showers like Bliss Dallas in Dallas, Texas and Bliss South Beach in Miami. Each location even has a brownie buffet ensuring you have an ah-mazing time.
  • Ask your hotel to use the hospitality suite: It’s a little known travel secret that hotels often have a hospitality suite, where guests may be permitted to go for a few minutes to freshen up before departing for the airport. Even if a hotel has a hospitality room, it may not always be available, so ask before checking out. Hotels may offer alternatives like Hotel Riu Plaza Times Square in New York City, which has a shower on the lobby level specifically for guests who have already checked out but want to freshen up before their flights.
  • Check into a day room: If your hotel lacks a hospitality suite or showering facilities, inquire about late checkout or book a day room at a cheaper hotel. It might even be worth it to just book a one-night stay at an airbnb or budget motel even though you don’t intend to stay the night.
  • Check into a hostel: Cheaper than a hotel room, hostels are great, often no-frills places to take a shower and a nap. Increase your savings by booking a bed in a communal room (which increases the chances you will be showering in a communal bathroom), but you can use the money saved to buy more souvenirs.
  • Find a fancy hotel bathroom: While we don’t recommend a sink shower, we have found refreshment in the form of fluffy hand towels at some of the finest fancy hotels around the world. These beautiful bathrooms tend to have stacks of cloth towels, perfect for freshening up on the go.
  • Shower at the beach: This may seem obvious, but travelers in a hurry might overlook showering at the beach. Better yet, try to visit a beach affiliated with a hotel. Many hotels offer day passes that may include access to the beach, pool and shower facilities.
  • Grab some water: No shower? No problem. Buy a 12-pack of bottled water for a portable, impromptu shower. It might seem primitive but it gets the job done. The trick is to use one to two bottles to get your hair and body wet. Then, lather up your hair and body. After, use the remaining bottles to rinse off, starting from your head and working your way down to your toes.
  • Take a run…: …through the sprinklers that is! Okay, we’re joking here, but on a hot day, a stray garden hose and some refreshing sprinklers do look tempting.
  • Take the plunge: If you’re fortunate to find yourself near one of the handful of cold springs in the world, why not take a dip in nature’s bathtub (leave your soap and shampoo behind). Suao Cold Spring in Taiwan is a naturally effervescent spring that is refreshing on a summer day. While cold springs are a great place to freshen up, the hot springs aren’t – you’ll end up smelling like sulfur in many cases.
  • Dive in: Jump (if you dare!) into a public fountain. While this is frowned upon (and likely illegal in many places), we don’t know you and we didn’t see anything.
  • Shower at the airport: Many airports offer showers like Dubai International Airport, where there are complimentary shower facilities in Terminal 1 (between gates C18 and C22) and Terminal 3 (between gates A1 and A24 and gates B13 and B19) and Narita International Airport, where there are shower cubicles and day rooms in the central building after passport control, in the satellite building after passport control and new shower facilities in the central building before passport control.
  • Lounge about: Check into an airport lounge for a shower and a snack. An increasing number of airport lounges offer showers, like the Emirates lounge at Dubai International Airport. However, if you don’t have enough miles for a lounge membership, you can pay for a day pass or try a non-airline lounge like the Airspace Lounge at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
  • Throw in the towel: If all else fails, take advantage of the hot towels handed out on the plane.

Tips, tricks and hacks to make the travel transition

Now that you have mapped out your itinerary and where to take a shower, be sure to pack these tips, tricks and hacks to be an intrepid traveler.

Packing list: Don’t leave home (or your hotel) without these must-haves:

  • Body wipes, face wipes, dry shampoo and a face towel: These are the essentials for when your best shower option is little more than a sink.
  • Disposable towel or small quick dry swimmer’s towel: Both will do the trick for use in basic showering situations.
  • Baby powder: It is the key to removing sand whether you have access to a shower or not.
  • Flip-flops: You need them for the beach, but use these as shower shoes in public showers and hostels too.
  • Extra set of clothes: This might be a no-brainer, but make sure to pack your inflight fashion in your beach bag, so you don’t have to open up your luggage in the hotel lobby or airport concourse.
  • Bring a gallon size zip-top bag and place your wet swimsuit inside it.
  • Carry all your must-haves in a bag with multi-compartments, ideally one that is waterproof with separate sections for your swimsuit, dry clothes and toiletries.
  • Bring sample-sized cologne and a travel-size bottle of Febreze to freshen up on the fly. The cologne will help you smell good and the Febreze will make your clothes smell freshly laundered if you’re going from the beach to the club.
  • Make-up samples are your best friend for looking fab on the beach, at the bar, or on board the plane.

Dress well: The key to transitioning from day-to-night is layering and choosing multi-functional fashion.

  • Wear a swimsuit cover-up that can double as a dress.
  • Choose bejeweled flip-flops or sandals that can double as dressy shoes.
  • Men can wear a linen or cotton button down shirt with their swimsuit for a casual look that works for day and night.

Get creative: Use your imagination and the tools around you.

  • Use the bathroom hand dryer as a hair dryer (and, if you have time, clothes dryer).
  • Put your hair in a trendy topknot or French braids for the beach. Then, let loose to reveal beachy waves for a night out.
  • No need to worry about your lipstick melting in the heat. Eat a Popsicle and stain your lips with its vibrant color.
  • Use a scarf to make a DIY beach dress or sarong by day, a colorful accessory at night and a way to keep the cold cabin air at bay in flight. 

Get a makeover: Really. Who doesn’t like the perfect excuse for pampering?

  • Hit the makeup counter at a department store, shops like Sephora, or in the duty free area of the airport and test out the makeup. Give yourself a makeover or ask the makeup artists to demo the newest hues on you.
  • Plan a haircut or spring for a wash and blow dry on travel days.

Plan wisely: One of the biggest challenges on travel days is what to do with your luggage. Here are some options:

  • Leave your bags with the hotel concierge.
  • Check your bags in early. Some hotels will facilitate checking your bags in with the airline. In Hong Kong, visitors can take advantage of free in-town check in via the MTR’s Airport Shuttle In-Town Check-in Service that lets travelers drop off bags 90 minutes to one full day ahead of scheduled flight departure times.
  • Look for lockers at the beach, local train station, or shopping centers. Your hotel concierge may have a list of places where you can leave your luggage.
  • Act like a backpacker. Strap on a backpack and carry your possessions with you. If you’re headed to a restaurant or nightclub, call ahead to see if you can check the bag in the restaurant or club’s coat check.
  • Travel with just one carry-on (yes, you can do it with our tips!).
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What are your travel day tips?

Featured image: iStockPhoto/Leonardo Patrizi

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