You know how you go into a trip, beach or not, having one set of expectations and then it ends up being different but still completely wonderful at the same time? That's about how my trip last week to Destin was. In case you're not from Louisville (because everyone from Louisville goes there) Destin is a beach town on the Florida panhandle, directly south of here. It has emerald waters and white sugar sand. Read - gorgeous. I wanted to share my beach trip experience, what I packed and didn't use, what I wish I'd brought, you get the gist, in case you have a beach trip coming up!
Do make it a road trip - getting there is half the fun. On our drive south we jammed out to the entire Bruce Springsteen discography as well as some of the best and cheesiest 90s pop songs. We stopped halfway for lunch in Birmingham at Whataburger (seriously, why don't we have those around here?!) and just got to spend time talking about anything and everything.
Don't let your gas tank get too low. You really never know when you might run into traffic, so trust me when I say this. Standstill traffic and less than a quarter of a tank is not a winning combination, I repeat not a winning combination. Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything, ahem.
Do wear sunscreen and reapply, reapply, reapply. Dealing with a painful, itchy sunburn from your first day on the beach is not how you want to start your trip. If you're fair skinned like me, wear a floppy hat and retreat under a colorful beach umbrella too. Bonus points because it makes for a fun photo op.
Don't forget a good beach read. I hit up Target the week before the trip for last minute essentials, including a new book. As much as I love a juicy romantic read, I went with something a little more inspirational. There's something about being on the beach that helps you find your inner happiness so this book was just what I needed.
Do go to bed early, get up early, and get plenty of rest. In a typical work week, my alarm clock is the bane of my existence. But at the beach, I naturally woke up at about 6 or 7 AM every day. Eating breakfast on the balcony overlooking the ocean while the sun was coming up got every day off to a great start. And since we got up early, we passed out around 10 each night. No complaints here though. I have never felt more rejuvenated in my life.
Don't be a loud neighbor. Most condo buildings on the beach front have floors and floors of units with who knows how many people staying in them. That's a lot of beach goers in one place. If you've ever lived in an apartment then you know how it can be when you feel like you're a part of your neighbor's conversation because they're so loud. We dealt with this on our last night. Thankfully I was so tired every other night that it didn't wake me up!
Do embrace wavy beach hair. I only washed my hair once, halfway through the trip. The rest of the time I embraced the wave and let the saltwater air do its thing. Low maintenance is definitely the way to go when you're at the beach.
Don't bother with makeup. I packed all of my makeup essentials and didn't touch them once except for mascara and lip gloss. Let me tell you, I've never gotten ready so fast in my life! If I can do it, anyone can. And after a week without worrying about makeup, it almost felt foreign to me once I got back into my regular morning routine for work.
Do let yourself indulge. If you want a fun cocktail in a blender souvenir cup, then by all means go for it! If you want an big ice cream cone covered in sprinkles, get it! Do it for the Insta people. And for vacation, duh.
Don't think every meal needs to be fancy. To save a little money and make the most of our time on the beach, we ate breakfast and lunch at the condo and went out for dinners. That way we didn't have to worry about getting dressed, going to find somewhere to eat, and coming back bloated and tired. Bloated and swimsuits don't mix very well.
Do swim in the ocean. To me, this one is a no-brainer! You drove all the way to the beach, now get yourself in it! Take long walks, put your toes in the water, let the waves crash around you and just soak in your time in paradise because it won't last forever.
Don't worry about a plan. Beach vacations to me are for relaxing and taking it easy. This isn't a trip where you need to sight-see, get from point A to B to C by a certain time or have a strict schedule of all you want to accomplish. This is your chance to not have a worry in the world except for if the tide is going to reach your chair ;)