Bringing your own food and drinks with you when you are going on a beach trip will not only save you money, but it will also ensure that you don’t have to go back to the room for meals and will provide everyone with something that they love when they are hungry. Unfortunately, I have found that it can be tricky to keep your food and drinks cold in the hot sun. It’s important to do so, however, as you want to make sure that your family will be healthy.
The next time you are going to the beach, use these “how to keep a cooler cold the longest” tips. They are tried and true, and I know that they will help you enjoy cold snacks and drinks all day long while on vacation.
Pre-Chill Your Cooler
The colder that you cooler is when you put items into it, the longer that it will be able to keep them cold while you are at the beach. It’s a good idea to pre-chill your cooler for a minimum of 12 hours, although I have found that 24 hours is better and will result in much colder food and drinks throughout the day. Many people think that this means that they have to put their cooler in the freezer, but simply packing it full of ice and letting it cool down that way is a much easier option.
Chill Your Items
Just like you want your cooler to be as cold as possible, you also need your contents to be cold. It may be tempting to put in room-temperature drinks, but that will simply undo all of the hard work that you put into cooling down your cooler in the first place. Instead, make sure that all of the items that you are going to put into your cooler have spent a day in the refrigerator before getting packed.
While you can’t freeze certain items, such as some foods and sodas, if you are able to freeze juice boxes, yogurts, and bottles of water then you will be able to keep everything else even colder. Generally, these items will slowly thaw during the day, so by the time that you want to drink or eat them they will no longer be solid. Up until that point, though, they can provide extra help keeping everything inside nice and cold.
Don’t Leave Lots of Space
Any extra space in your cooler should be filled up with ice. While you may think that this will make the cooler too heavy, it is also one of the best ways to ensure that everything stays nice and cold. It’s also a good idea to layer the ice with the food and drinks so that everything is surrounded.
Placing a layer of ice on top of your food and drinks is smart, as well, as the cool air will travel down and keep everything much colder than if you had only put ice underneath all of your food and drinks.
Consider Improving the Insulation
If you are really worried about keeping items cold in your cooler, you can improve the insulation by lining your cooler with foil backed wrap. This bubble wrap will help to provide extra insulation and will do a great job at keeping the cold air of your cooler inside and preventing hot air from getting into your cooler and melting your ice. Though an easier option is to make sure you purchase a high quality cooler.
Shade Your Cooler
If you have an umbrella set up on the beach, then it’s a good idea to pull your cooler into the shade. Keeping the cooler in the direct sunlight or near a heat source like a grill will cause the ice inside to melt a lot faster than if your cooler is in the shade. If you can’t dedicate space under the umbrella to your cooler the entire time that you are on the beach, then try to pull it into the shade whenever people get out from under the umbrella.
Now is not the time to let people rummage through the cooler and try to decide what they want to eat or drink. It’s a much better idea to quickly open the lid, grab what you want, and then shut it again. This will help to keep cold air inside your cooler and keep everything there as cold as possible. Every time you open the cooler, you allow hot air to get inside, and this will begin to melt the ice and warm up your food and drinks.
Keep the Cold Water
It’s tempting to drain the water from your cooler, but when you want to make sure that it stays as cold as possible, then you need to keep the cold, melted water in the bottom. I know that this is counter-intuitive, but it actually helps to preserve any ice that you have remaining and will keep the cooler colder than empty air would be able to, so resist the temptation.
Implementing Tips for How to Keep a Cooler Cold the Longest
If you want to keep your cooler cold, then it’s important that you start planning ahead a few days before you leave for the beach. This will give you plenty of time not only to get the ice or ice packs that you need, but also to cool down your cooler and anything that will be going inside it. While impromptu beach trips are great, planning ahead is important when you are bringing food and drinks so that you can be sure that all of your supplies will be kept cold and as safe as possible.
Going to the beach is a lot of fun, but to make sure that you have something to eat and drink and that everything is kept at a safe temperature, you need to make sure that you plan ahead. Using these tips to keep your cooler and its contents cold will help to ensure that you can focus on having fun on the beach and will keep you from worrying about whether or not you can safely eat the items that you packed.
Megan Jones is the lead author of Seaside Planet. She is an avid surfer, scuba diver, and travel enthusiast who takes any opportunity she can to spend time in the ocean. You can learn more about Megan and the rest of the editorial team here.