8 Beach Tips for New Beachgoers

8 Beach Tips for People Who Didn't Grow Up Near the Ocean

There are some things you can only learn from spending years living near the beach. Luckily, I'm here to share them with you.

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I've lived almost my entire life in a small town on the west coast of Florida. Most of my weekends are spent on the beach, so I've learned all there is to know about beach travel. I know exactly what it takes to spend a perfect day in the sand and ocean. Now, you can know too. Make sure you're prepared for your next beach vacation (Spring break, I'm looking at you). Here are 8 essential beach tips for people who didn't grow up in beach paradise.

Choose the Right Beach

Do you want a tourist experience, or do you want to live like the locals? Where I'm from, all of the tourists flock to Clearwater Beach because it's consistently ranked as the best or one of the best in the country. But little do these tourists know, there are beaches just as good and far less crowded just 15 minutes down the road. Now, some people may want to have a tourist experience, which is great. Just expect much larger crowds and worse traffic before you go. At the less touristy locations, you'll be around locals and have fewer crowds to deal with, even on nice days. Also, you'll want to consider the beach's restrictions before going. For example, if you have a dog, make sure you pick a beach that is dog-friendly.

Bring the Right Seating

When visiting the beach, you should have either a beach towel or a beach chair (or both) to relax on. I usually opt for a beach towel because I prefer to lay down in the sand, but you can't go wrong with a nice beach chair either. The number one rule on bringing a beach towel to lie in is it needs to be large. You don't want to get a small towel that you can't even fit on unless you enjoy being completely covered in sand. I personally bring a huge towel that could fit two people, so I can spread out or share with a friend without it being too small. If you're bringing a beach chair, make sure it's comfortable and sturdy, because you'll be sitting in it for hours.

ALWAYS Wear Sun Protection

I don't care if you never sunburn. I don't care how much of a tan you need. If you follow any of my beach tips, it should be to always wear sunscreen or sunblock. Spending hours in direct sunlight can severely damage your skin without the proper protection. And you can still get a tan if you use a lower SPF sunscreen on your skin. Make sure you reapply the sunscreen every hour or two to prevent getting sunburned. Also, be sure to bring a hat and sunglasses to further protect your face from the sun. You can also bring a large beach umbrella to give yourself some cool shade during the hottest hours of the day. If you do get a sunscreen, aloe vera will be your best friend. Apply it generously all over your burn for pain relief and to allow the burn to heal more quickly.

Bring Bags

If you don't bring bags that can protect your items at the beach, you'll be picking sand out of your phone and wallet for the next month. You should always bring a large beach bag and several Ziploc baggies to protect your items from both sand and water. Only remove your items from the bags when you're using them. Trust me, this tip is a lifesaver. There's nothing worse than trying to get all of the sand out from the cracks of your phone case.

Have Plenty of Food and Water

If you're going to spend an entire day at the beach, you'll need a ton of water and beach food. Bring a large cooler and stuff it with as many waters as you think you'll need, plus some extra. Then, pack some sandwiches, chips, fruits, veggies, and whatever else sounds yummy to you. My favorite thing the eat at the beach is a big turkey sub and sour cream and onion chips. Remember: many beaches don't allow alcohol. So check with the beach to see what restrictions they have. If you are able to bring alcohol, make sure it's not in a glass container.

Go at the Right Time

In peak beach season, any beach you try to go to is going to be absolutely packed by 11 a.m. It's super important to get there before all the crowds pile in if you want to get a good spot on the beach. I usually aim for 9 a.m. at the latest, but try to get there even earlier if you can. The weather is so perfect in the morning, and you won't have as many people around you. Also, the traffic getting to the beach will be much lighter than it will be around noon.

Bring Fun Activites

The beach isn't just about laying out in the sun and getting a tan or going swimming in the ocean. It's a place to kick the soccer ball, throw the frisbee, ride a boogie board, or read a good book. Bring things that will make you want to stay at the beach all day. I personally always bring a water-proof speaker, a soccer ball, a football, and a book or two. That way I can be active when I want to, or I can lay back and read a book or listen to music when I feel like relaxing. The beach wouldn't be the same without some fun activities to fill up your day.

Large Groups Should Plan Accordingly

If you have a large group going to the beach, type up the ultimate beach vacation checklist so each person can volunteer to bring something. It's best to bring a ton of shareable foods and drinks for everyone to share. Bring a long, beach-friendly table and a big canopy tent to hang out under. Also, bring plenty of plates and silver wear for people to eat.

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Everything You Need To Know About The Hong Kong Protests

The issue extends beyond the intended purpose of the extradition bill.

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By now, you've likely seen news of large-scale protests occurring in Hong Kong, with over a million people taking to the streets of Hong Kong to protest a proposed extradition bill.

A few days before these protests began, over 180,000 people attended a vigil for the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, sometimes known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre. The vigil, which occurs annually, drew a particularly large crowd this year due to news of the extradition law. The vigil itself can be seen as an act of defiance against China, as the protesters at Tiananmen Square advocated for democracy and freedom of speech in China.

China has also made efforts to cover up the events of Tiananmen Square. At the end of the vigil, those present were encouraged to join the protest and march against the extradition bill on Sunday, June 9, which was the first protest against the bill. But what, exactly, is the extradition bill, and why has it drawn such controversy?

The extradition bill would allow suspected criminals to be sent to China for trial. The push for this bill was motivated by a case in which a man allegedly murdered his girlfriend on vacation in Taiwan before fleeing back to Hong Kong, where he could not be extradited to Taiwan due to the lack of an extradition law between Hong Kong and Taiwan. Hong Kong's Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, has shown support for the bill, stating that it will keep Hong Kong from becoming a safe haven for fugitives.

However, the issue extends beyond the intended purpose of the extradition bill. Protesters believe that the bill will threaten Hong Kong's autonomy and allow China more control over Hong Kong. Hong Kong and China currently operate under a "one country, two systems" policy, in which Hong Kong is still allowed to maintain its political system and autonomy as a region (for 50 years following the handover to China in 1997) while under Chinese rule. Protesters have expressed concern regarding China's judicial system and the possibility of harsh punishments for Hong Kong residents.

Many fear that the extradition bill will give China the ability to punish Hong Kong residents who oppose the Communist Party and allow room for China to begin to exercise further control over Hong Kong. The core issue of the protests is similar to that of the Umbrella Revolution (also known as the Occupy Movement) that took place in 2014, which also protested a bill that was believed to restrict Hong Kong's autonomy.

Protests have been ongoing since June 9, with many of them becoming violent. Police resorted to tear gas and rubber bullets to subdue protesters, and Chief Executive Carrie Lam has condemned the protests as "organized riots."

Protests ended on June 12, with at least seventy-nine injured. Another reading of the extradition bill was scheduled on the same day but was postponed.

Live updates on the Hong Kong protests can be found here.

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3 Ways to Save Money on Utilities During Winter

As college students or young adults, we're always looking for ways to save some extra money each month. Here's how you can keep your house warm without spending a fortune on heating this winter.

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Don't leave your heater blasting for the next two months and pay a ton of money to the utility company. Here are three ways to keep warm and save money.

Make Sure Your Heating System Is Performing Optimally

Your heating system is what will keep your house warm throughout the winter months, but don't pay a ton of extra money because your system is working harder to heat your home. If your heating system is working at its best, it will save you a ton of money during the winter. If you think your system isn't working properly, you can have professionals come out and take a look.

Keep Your Home Insulated

Insulation helps to keep your home warm without using extra heat. By keeping your home insulated, you can save a fortune on utilities because your heating system will be doing a lot less heating. If you don't want to pay for insulation, you can do small things around the house to keep it warmer. Keep the curtains closed all the time to hold in heat. Have the fans turn the opposite way to circulate warm air. These small things can really make a difference.

Bundle Up

Instead of jumping straight to turn the heater on when it gets a bit cold in your home, bundle up with a sweater, sweatpants, and a blanket first. Keep yourself warm using comfy clothing instead of paying money to heat your home. You'll still feel just as toasty, and you'll see a big drop in your monthly utility bill from not using the heater as much.

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