Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Top 10 Tips for a Beach Vacay

Next week, I'm heading to the beach with a friend of mine for a much-needed week of rest and relaxation. We've never traveled together before, so I'm sure that will involve some adjustments and compromises. I think it's worth the risk, though, because Travis shares my love of travel and would make an excellent traveling companion abroad. If this works out, I may have a new buddy to travel with me as I cavort around Europe adult-style. In light of this impending vacay, I thought I'd spend my "Top 10 Tuesday" post this week sharing tips for taking a beach vacation. Warning: they're a bit more philosophical and existential than you might expect. 

10. Don't overschedule yourself. In fact, I don't schedule anything when I go to the beach. I eat when I'm hungry. I sleep when I'm tired. I tan while the sun feels warm. And I run around only if the mood strikes me. No schedule is what makes time at the beach fantastic for me.

9.  Do pack clothes that make you feel good about your body. As a woman, I know that it's hard to spend all day every day in a swimsuit. It's especially difficult if you're surrounded by nubile hotties who make you feel old and flabby and decrepit. (Of course, I'm speaking hypothetically here.) Since you may feel a little uncomfortable in your swimsuit all day, make sure your clothes for the evenings and running around are ones that make you feel great about yourself.

8. Do invest in high quality moisturizer to take with you and use liberally. Put it everywhere, every day, and I promise you'll feel and look a bit less lizard-like by the end of the week. I really like the Medline moisturizer (here it is on Amazon) or the body cream at Bath and Body Works, particularly the spa line (this is my favorite).

7.  Don't force yourself to be someone you're not. If you're a morning person, then by all means catch that sunrise each day. If you're not, then sleep in as late as you want. One of the worst vacay annoyances I remember was with a morning person who constantly berated me for missing the sunrise. When you go to bed at 3 am, the sunrise is a little tough to catch. You feel me? I'm not going to apologize for being a night owl.

6.  Choose the kind of location that matters to you. Here in the USA, I like the panhandle of Florida the best. The beaches are powder soft and white, and the water is usually very clear. This year, we're heading to Panama City Beach for fall break, but I also recommend Destin, Mexico Beach, and Fort Walton Beach - all of them are within an hour of each other and are great destinations whether you're traveling as a family, as a girls' weekend, or as a single. If you like highrise condos right on the beach, stay there. If you like quaint cottages a block or two off the main drag, then stay there. If you're a camper, then camp. If you like to stay cheap, then do it. You don't owe anyone else an explanation for the kind of lodging you choose. For me, I need it to be clean, safe, and comfortable. Other than that, I'm not very picky at all. I don't need luxury, but I also don't want to feel like I'm homeless. Lol! Fwiw, I like to use VRBO domestically and want to try Air BNB the next time I travel abroad.

5.  Decide what you want out of a beach vacay ahead of time. Do you want to play mini-golf and go to water parks and go shopping? Do you want to read a book per day on the beach under an umbrella? Do you want to explore antique malls and buy roadside fruit? Maybe you want a mix of those experiences. All of them are perfectly okay as long as you're able to make peace with the other people who are on the trip.

4.  Pack at least three beach towels per person. How's that for a specific tip? I hate a stinky or wet beach towel, and having three means that you have one to get dirty, one to dry off with, and one to keep in reserve in case the others didn't dry from the day before. (I also recommend at least two swimsuits; you can wear one and let the other dry out completely before wearing it again.)

3. Unplug as much as possible. I'm the world's worst at wanting to stay up to date on facebook, and twitter, and instagram, and blogging. I love to multi-task, even at the beach. But I feel better and benefit more from a vacation when I unplug as much as I possibly can. This time, I plan on actually leaving my phone in the room some and just existing without anyone being able to reach me. I'll check in with the world when I come up to the room for lunch or to change for dinner, but otherwise I'd like to be able to leave it all behind for a while. Likewise, I'll have to do a little work for my online class while I'm away, but I plan to limit that to just two afternoons while I'm there. I need to delineate my free time from my work time, and I'm just not going to feel guilty about that.

2.  Eat and drink well. Buy yourself treats that you might not ordinarily splurge on at home. I'm a fan of mimosas and caviar with cream cheese for the last breakfast of vacay; it's cheap caviar from Kroger or Publix, but still. I also enjoy getting fancy desserts to try or making a new beachy recipe for the condo. Buy what you love to eat and drink so you really feel like you're treating yourself. Personally, I don't ever drink cheap liquor because it doesn't taste good and makes me feel bad the next day. Likewise, I don't skimp on eating dinner out. While I usually eat at the condo for breakfast and lunch (as much for convenience as for economics), I do splurge when I go out in the evenings. If I want an expensive seafood platter each night, I'll get it. If I want dessert, I'll get it. The point is in giving yourself some freedom to indulge. Don't feel guilty about indulging yourself on your vacation.

1. Finally - take some risks. Don't do everything the same way you would at home. Visit a different location. Stay in a new hotel/condo. Try new restaurants. Experiment with new food. Talk to people. Strike up conversations at dinner or at the hotel or on the beach. Try an activity you've never tried before. Sing karaoke or line dance. Experiment with a new cocktail. Take a ridiculous amount of photographs. Act silly. Be the best version of yourself, but take risks to make it happen. Vacation is about indulging in a bit of a fantasy; enjoy the inherent risks and rewards in that fantasy life.

Bonus tip: don't forget to bring a radio/batteries, a hair clip, and a cup with a lid with you to the beach. I promise you'll enjoy and use them!

What about you? What's your #1 tip for a trip to the beach? Are there any tips I shared that you disagreed with or would do differently? I'd love to hear.


  1. This post was for me! Thank you!! Can you believe I've never been to the beach as an adult? So bizarre! I feel quite nervous about being ill prepared but with your excellent advice, I'm feeling better. I would have never known about moisturizer! I was thinking just sunscreen!

  2. fantastic list! this covers a lot of my own for any vacay or any weekend away.

  3. I agree with all points! We are also going to PCB next week! Maybe I'll run into to you. Have you been there before? I haven't. What is a must see/do? My plan is to spend as much time as I can with a book and my feet in the sand.