10 Beach Hacks for Solo Travelers

A common problem if you travel solo is keeping your stuff safe at the beach while you swim.  Here are some creative things you can do to enjoy the beach without having to worry about someone stealing your belongings.  I’ll start with the recommended options and slowly move to the more risky hacks that you can try if you’re feeling lucky.

1. Only Bring the Essentials.

Towel, hotel key, water, and sunscreen. Follow these tips, and if someone does steal from you, they are going to be pretty disappointed.

  • Pack spray-on sunscreen unless you want a burnt back, or have a desire to ask a stranger for an impromptu back rub.
  • Hotel key can be put in the zipper pocket of swim shorts, or pinned with a safety pin to your swimsuit.  It won’t be damaged by water. Better yet, ask the front desk to hold it for you prior to leaving your hotel.
  • If you must bring cash, only bring what you need for the day.  Empty your wallet of credit and debit cards. and no credit cards.
  • Carry a photocopy of any ID you may need.  DO NOT bring your passport.
  • Avoid bringing any electronics, including your phone. Pack a physical magazine or book, not an e-reader.

Let’s be honest, you’re probably going to be bringing your phone.  If you do decide to pack any valuables, here are a few ways you can prevent them from being taken.

2. If you have a car with a keypad, lock your things in it

Hide your key and belongings inside the car and use the numbered keypad to lock and unlock.

3. Have a cheap copy of your car key made

Many of you will not have a keypad on your car and have the key to worry about at the beach. This is creative, but hear me out!  Consider having a copy of your car key made for around 5$ at your local hardware store.

Cheap Duplicate Car Key

  • Most new car keys have a built-in transponder that is needed to actually start the car.  A cheap copy will unlock your car, but likely not start it.
  • This key has no electronic parts to it, so you can bring it in the water with you. Safety pin it to your swimsuit or put it in the zipper pocket of your swim shorts.  I pin it to the inside pocket of a FlipBelt (and flip it over) to triple protect against it being lost in the waves.

You can also consider just leaving a copy of the key on the beach.  It won’t be that appealing to steal because what car worth stealing doesn’t have an electronic key?  The thief will also have no idea what car it actually unlocks (or that it’s even a car key).  On the off chance that the key is stolen and the thief knows which car is yours,  they won’t be able to start the car once unlocked.

Let’s assume your traveling without a vehicle like me.

4. Pay for a locker

You know the value of your belongings and the stress involved in replacing important information. I would gladly pay a few dollars to know my phone won’t be taken. A small charge for the peace of mind to have your stuff locked away is probably worth it… er, definitely worth it.

Anytime I’m out for an entire day (assuming my hotel room isn’t in walking distance) and have the option to pay for a locker, I will.

5. Bring your own locker

There are quite a few cool options on Amazon for bags with a lock built-in. This one-time investment could save you in the long run if you are a frequent solo beachgoer.

My personal favorite is the Pacsafe Dry 36L anti-theft beach bag Travel Tote.

TIP: Anyone can pick up a locked bag and run away with it. Use a bike lock and lock it to a tree, or a pole. Even the lifeguards stand if they let you.

6. Make your own portable locker

Take your backpack, or any bag with a zipper, and connect the zippers with a code lock so the bag cant be opened.  Again, you will want to additionally use a bike lock to secure the bag to some unmovable object or tree trunk.

Anton Bauer Device on the Beach

7. Bring your stuff in the water with you

I use this sealed wetback from Amazon ($10) for my phone whenever I am traveling by boat, and I will occasionally bring it with me for a quick swim if I am out of options.

It can be annoying to swim with as it hangs around your neck, and while it had never leaked, I still worry about bringing my phone into the ocean water.  If the string ever were to break, that thing is gone!

My preferred option for swimming is a wet bag that ties around your waist like the ANJ Waterproof Pouch (2 for $9.99on Amazon!).

Bringing your valuables into the water may sound risky enough for you.  But maybe not.  Here are the really risky things you could do to potentially lower your chance of having something valuable stolen.

8. Have a stranger watch your stuff

Step one is to scout out a family that looks like they are camped out on the beach for the day.  Now you have two options: You can ask them to keep an eye on your things, or you can strategically place your things directly in front of where they are set up. You can also ask (or place things in front of)  the lifeguard.

TIP: Too shy/don’t want to ask?  A friendly hello, eye contact and a smile, or comment about the nice weather can go a long way.  You have now made some sort of connection and they may feel in some way responsible to reciprocate the nice gesture by piping up if someone where to start rummaging through your things.

9. Hide your stuff in empty containers

  • Clean out an empty sunscreen container and cut it horizontally across the center, then fit it back together.  You can put keys and phone in here.
  • Get creative, an empty granola bar container would work too.
  • Get really really creative, I know people that will wrap their phone in a clean diaper and leave it with their towel on the beach.  Some even include a melted piece of chocolate.

10. Bury your belongings

Put valuables in a sealed bag and bury the bag in the sand.   Use your towel/beach chair as a marker for later.  I’ll be honest, I’ve done this and gotten away with it.  It’s not something I would do again, or something I recommend for at least two reasons.

  • Reason One: Its huge temptation for anyone that sees you digging the hole and burying your items.  You might as well up a sign saying buried treasure.
  • Reason Two:  If someone steals your towel/chair, or if either blow off in the wind, you’re in trouble.  Goodluck digging up the beach trying to find where you buried your things!

Also keep in mind that a thief could be anywhere, including roaming around your fancy 5 star all-inclusive resort. Other guests, or even staff members, could very well steal. Don’t assume that the beach chairs by the lazy river at a resort are a safe place to leave your things.  Furthermore, I’ve never been stopped walking onto a resort that I am a guest at, or not a guest at.  You never know who’s around.

My mind was blown when I initially discovered these hacks.  It’s important to remember that If someone is looking to steal, they have probably stolen before and had experience getting away with it. They probably know every trick in the book.

Pineapple with Sunglass Chilling Out at the Beach

The bottom line

Your best bet is to not bring valuables with you, or use a secure paid option like a locker.  Think what your phone/wallet is worth; I’m willing to bet it’s more than the cost of a locker for the afternoon or a missed text message should you leave your phone safe at the hotel.

You probably don’t get to enjoy a beautiful beach everyday.  A secure option is totally worth the cost for the peace of mind of not having to aggressively stare down your things unattended on the shore all day.

What’s your preferred method of keeping this safe while solo?  Would you risk trying a sneaky hack? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.