Summer Vacation Etiquette – Part 1: The Beach

Don’t Forget to Pack Your Manners

Everyone looks forward to summer.  Regardless of whether you have plans to go away or not, the nature of summer seems to slow time and evoke a feeling of being on vacation if only on the weekends.  With its warm weather, sunshine and evenings fragrant with honeysuckle summer sets the stage for cookouts, picnics, trips to the beach, lighter clothing, relaxing evenings and a drift toward leisure time.  Summer is vacation time because for many it’s the most convenient time of year to take off time off from work.

But coming into contact with more people on crowded beaches, airports, theme parks and on the road can cause aggravation and put the kibosh on fun unless everyone takes care to keep their manners polished during the summer.  Going casual doesn’t mean relaxing your standards of etiquette.

Starting with beach etiquette, following are ways in which we can make this popular pastime as pleasant as a summer breeze:

Sun:  Prepare for sun and fun by applying your sun block lotion before arriving at the beach to avoid burning and spoiling your and everyone else’s fun, as well as causing others to wait while you apply your lotion.  Reapply lotion at the appropriate intervals (read the directions) and after taking a dip in the water.  Use sun block lotion even in cloudy weather.

Space:  Arrive early when it’s usually less crowded to find a desirable location to set up your beach blanket and trappings, and put a respectable distance between you and others who are settling in around you.  Don’t squeeze in between others so that you are on top of them; if they were there first, set up elsewhere.

Ensure that you set up away from where the tide comes in, as you shouldn’t expect others to move to accommodate you.

If other beach goers offer to relocate to accommodate you, or invite you to squeeze in close to them, thank them graciously and take care not to make them regret their kindness and generosity.

Sand:  Sand should be kept on the beach and not in peoples’ eyes and food, on blankets, etc.  While the place for flip flops is at the beach be careful when wearing them on the beach because they tend to kick up sand.  If the beach is crowded and the sand is not too hot and free of debris, remove your flip flops and walk barefoot.  Don’t run or shake out your towels, as both actions kick up sand.  And never run or walk on someone’s blanket or in any way disrupt or invade anyone’s space.

Swim:  Make sure there’s a lifeguard on duty, that it’s safe to go into the water and keep tabs on the weather.  Behaving responsibly is considerate and respectful.

Children:  Ensure that children who are in your care are well tended, protected from the sun, monitored in the water and in general kept from harm.  Take care, also, to ensure that your little ones do not disturb others.

Follow the Rules Posted on Your Beach:  

  • Dress appropriately.  Unless you are at a nude or private beach, be considerate of other beachgoers and their children by adequately covering those parts of the anatomy that are normally not exposed in public.  And remember that it’s rude to stare at those who are scantily clad, and disrespectful to your spouse, significant other, date, kids, parents and friends.   And, wearing a pair of sunglasses and a hat won’t fool anyone!
  • Don’t smokeMany beaches prohibit smoking of any kind.  Check out the U.S. places where smoking is banned.  If the beach you visit allows smoking, it’s a good idea to refrain anyway, or at least limit your smoking, as smoke carries to other blankets and cigarette butts littering the beach is an environmental blight.
  • Control Fido.  Bringing your dog(s) to the beach can be great fun, whether it’s just you or the whole family, but first confirm that your beach allows dogs and if it does ensure that your pooch does not disturb or harm others or soil the beach.  Moreover, you must protect your pet from the elements (sun, heat, rough or deep water, sharks, etc.,) as well as dehydration (make sure he/she has plenty of water), being trampled, mistreatment by others, flying objects and so forth.
  • Don’t litter.  Be neat with your food and paraphernalia, and clean up after yourself.  Littering is disrespectful to other beachgoers, and often against the law.  .
  • Don’t Drink and Dive:  Diving into the water after a few alcoholic drinks is a very bad idea.  Drinking alcohol at all early in the day in the hot sun can lead to dehydration, cause you to pass out or suffer a serious or fatal injury or injure someone else, or just cause you to make a fool of yourself and wind up on You Tube.  Rarely do things proceed swimmingly when you drink booze on the beach.  On many beaches, drinking alcohol is very wisely prohibited.
  • Play Ball: Play ball on the beach – volleyball, badminton, Frisbee, etc., only if it is allowed and you will not be disturbing anyone.  Hitting balls over people’s heads and trampling their blankets to catch them is extremely poor behavior
  • Shhhhhh: Playing loud music is often prohibited.  But, refrain from talking or laughing loudly, yelling or shouting to others, as these actions are incredibly rude.  And, like everywhere else, keep cell phone usage to a minimum; if you must make or take a call, speak quietly and keep it short, but the only reason to have a cellphone on the beach is for emergencies, or for a convenience when you are leaving the beach, i.e., to let someone know when you’ll be home or to order take-out for dinner.

What Should You Do If Someone Is Rude To You?

Don’t’ respond in kind.  Keeping in mind that the beach is for everyone, if a group sets up its blanket too close to you courteously ask if they could move a little further away.  If they are reasonable and accommodating, great, but if they refuse or return your courteous request with rudeness, simply move your blanket elsewhere.  If there’s no room to move, decide if you can stay where you are and enjoy yourself; otherwise, move on to another part of the beach, remaining pleasant and always maintain your dignity and sense of humor as you do so.  Don’t discuss the situation or anyone involved with your companions until you are out of earshot of the offenders.  Of course, you should not be a doormat for another’s unacceptable behavior, but it’s sensible to weigh the benefits of prolonging an unpleasant situation.

Enjoy your summer outings at the beach.  Obeying the rules of the beach as well as the rules of etiquette will help to create a pleasant experience.  And, remember, sitting on that beach chair a few yards down could be your client, future client, boss or prospective employer!

Do you have any advice to add to the list?  If so, feel free to comment!

Until next time,


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