By Kristin Batista and Virginia Whitted
If you are like most beachcombers, the idea of traveling to a location where you will find beautiful and abundant beach treasures is not new to you. A weekend trip to a new location or a weeklong trip to a beloved beach is your idea of heaven. Combined with good company, delicious food, relaxation, beautiful views, and comfortable accommodations, a beachcombing getaway can be the most wonderful experience and just what you need to rejuvenate and reconnect. So, what are the steps to planning this amazing trip? For some people, putting together these plans sounds overwhelming. For others, it sounds like a dream job. Here is a step-by-step guide.
Choose Your Companions
Who is going with you? Friends or family are great choices but so is going on a solo trip. Taking a trip with your best friend is a perfect way to bond and really get quality time together. Going with a group of people is fun and active and endlessly entertaining. Going alone is a chance to reflect and gather your thoughts. Once you have decided who is going with you, start a group chat so that you can discuss plans, packing lists, and share photos and memories after the trip.
Choose Your Location
Where do you want to go? For most beachcombers, the choice revolves around the all important question: Will there be good and plentiful sea glass, shells, stones, driftwood, or whatever you love to find? Do some research online, join some of the many beachcombing groups on social media, and, probably most helpful, ask others for advice.
There are so many fabulous locations all over the world. If you choose a location you are not familiar with, be prepared to be flexible. You may have to search several beaches before you find the treasures you were hoping for. If you are able, you can connect with a trusted contact who can show you where to look. If not, remember, it is really mostly about the company you are with, and any day at the beach is a good day!
Choose a Date
When are you going? Consider what time of year you are available, what time of year the beach finds will be abundant, and what time of year the costs will be lower. The best beachcombing trips happen off-season for each location. This is due to many factors, including lower cost, fewer people on the beaches, and, of course, more things to find on the beaches. Off season is different depending on where in the world you are, so you will need to do some homework to find out when the best time to go is. Keep in mind that some parts of the world have seasonal storms that you will want to avoid. They may wash up some beautiful sea glass, shells, driftwood, and more, but storms can also present a danger to you. If you are traveling to an area known for hurricanes or other tropical storms, it is better to travel after the storm season has ended. You will be safer, and beachcombing will likely be better.
Once you have chosen the time of year you want to travel, check the tide charts in the area you are visiting, if applicable. There are many locations in the world that are not tide-dependent, for example the Great Lakes, Caribbean Sea, and Mediterranean Sea. Everyone has a favorite time of day to beachcomb but generally if you start looking on the beach a couple of hours before low tide and follow the tide out as you look, you will have good luck. So, a low tide of 9 am means you can hit the beach at 7am. If you plan to go to the beach earlier, make sure you check the sunrise times as well, so you are not beachcombing in the dark. Afternoon low tides are fine but be prepared to have a lot of company on the beach with you.
Book Your Stay
Would you like to stay in a hotel, a bed & breakfast, or rent a home? The answer to this question depends on your preferences. Ask yourself whether you want to cook your own meals, dine out for your meals, or maybe a little of both. Do you want to have room service, or do you prefer your solitude and independence when traveling? Do you want lots of amenities, like a pool, workout room, or concierge? Do you want to be right on the beach or within walking distance?
There are many ways to find a place to stay with online booking sites. Enter all your preferences, including price, type of rental (hotel, bed & breakfast, home, etc.), location, proximity to the beach, number of beds, and amenities. Before making your final choice, check the reviews. The star rating for some sites is helpful but looking at how many people have given reviews and specifically what they are saying about their recent stay at your potential hotel or rental home is the most important way to understand what your experience will be like. These reviews will also often include local restaurant experiences and ideas for the attractions that others have enjoyed so that you can add them to your itinerary, too.
Plan Your Menu
The best way to enjoy your retreat is to plan a menu that includes food that is healthy and delicious, with a few treats thrown in to make you feel like you have been pampered. If you have chosen to plan a retreat at a hotel or bed & breakfast, then your experience will involve eating out for your trip. For some, this is perfect, but a true retreat will involve feeling like you have gotten away from the hustle and bustle and have the time to just settle in and relax. A home by the ocean is the perfect way to do this and a little planning will help make your meal preparation easier and less time consuming so that you can maximize your relaxation time.
Breakfast can be as simple as fruit with granola and yogurt, all of which require little or no preparation. A French toast casserole takes a little more effort, but putting it together the night before takes ten minutes and then you just throw it in the oven in the morning. For lunch, think about make-ahead soups that you can bring and heat up along with some cheese crostinis that can be made in minutes. For dinners, you can prepare sauces ahead of time to add to pasta or prepare a casserole ahead of time and wait to bake it until right before serving. Preparing meals ahead of time also ensures that you do not forget ingredients or miss important baking tools that your home rental may not have.
Make a shopping list that includes everything you will need, from coffee and creamer to chocolate caramels for dessert. That way you will not worry as much when grocery shopping, and you can get in and out of the store quickly.
Consider How You Will Travel
Do you need to take a plane, train, or automobile? How about a ferry? Depending on your location, do your research on the best way to get there, check schedules carefully, and reserve ahead of time. In many locations you may not need a car once you arrive. You may be able to use public transportation, bikes, golf carts, taxis, or ride sharing apps to get around.
Arts and Crafting
A wonderful way to spend time with friends or to lose yourself in an activity for a couple of hours is to use your beach finds to make beautiful art, including jewelry with your beachcombed finds. The possibilities are endless.
If you or your travel companions do not have any experience with this, consider doing some research and experimenting on your retreat. Wire wrapping jewelry is one of the simplest ways to get started and requires very few supplies. If you have some jewelry wire, wire clippers, and a set of jewelry pliers, then you have everything you need. Many people are self-taught through internet videos and their first tries come out surprisingly well. Just don’t be too hard on yourself and be ready to laugh at your attempts.
For an easy and fun craft, consider making framed beach art as we show in this short video.
If art is not for you, then just putting aside some time to sit together to sort your finds and ooh and aah over the special pieces you have found is something you should not miss.
Take Care of Your Body
Beachcombing can sometimes be strenuous, so doing an activity like yoga after the beach can be a great way to unwind. If someone in your group is a yoga expert, they can help lead a yoga or stretching session. If not, many beach towns offer yoga on the beach or have local yoga studios. Do an online search of the town that you are visiting to check the options and schedules. Remember, “Yoga is not for the Flexible, it’s for the Willing.”
At some point during your retreat, sitting alone or with your group, take the time to meditate and reflect. Remember why you are coming together and set your intentions for the trip at the beginning of your retreat. No matter what is going on in your life, remembering to count your blessings and be grateful for them will bring you peace.
If this is something that you have never done before, do not be intimidated. There are countless books of inspirational quotes or guided meditations that you can use to help get you started. A great option is a small pocket type guide that you can use by opening to any page and reading a random passage that you can use as a starting point to your meditation or group discussion. Do this a few times throughout your retreat and you will find that it inspires you and your group to share and bond in a way that you did not expect.
If you are traveling alone, take time to write down some of your memories and journals so you can remember your favorite parts of your trip.
Always be very aware of your surroundings and any safety issues. If you are not familiar with the area you are going to, it is better to save your solo trip for another time. When traveling with a group, have a way to communicate with one another so that you can check in as needed. Look around you frequently and know who is with you on the beach at all times.
Wash your beach finds. Remember that the sea is full of life and the beautiful birds and sea creatures that are beautiful to watch and observe leave behind things that can be harmful to you.
Last But Not Least…Have Fun
Planning should be fun! Half of the fun should be in the anticipation of a retreat. Looking forward to the fun you will have, the time you will share with friends, the time you will get alone to spend time with your own thoughts, the delicious food you will eat, and, of course, the treasures you will find.
And if all of this planning is too much for you, and you would prefer to be pampered and let someone else do the planning, then consider contacting a travel professional to put your dream trip together for you.
Kristin and Virginia lead beachcombing trips for their company, Seaglass & Serenity.
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine January/February 2020 issue.