Let’s go to the beach-each
Let’s go get away!

Ryan and I literally sang the Niki Minaj every day while on vacation. We’d wake up at the crack of dawn with Crue, eat breakfast, and then ask Crue if he was ready to go the beach!? And break into song!

I had every intent of documenting every screeching, crying, hair-pulling moment from our vacation in Orange Beach, AL, but surprisingly there weren’t too many of those!

The road trip down, our stay there, and the drive back were fairly uneventful. So I’m here to say – traveling with a toddler doesn’t have to be scary and stressful!

To kick-off our trip, I started off driving at 4am that Friday morning and was lucky enough to draw the short straw and navigate us through the remnants of Hurricane Harvey as it hit Kentucky and Tennessee.

We decided to leave super early in the morning so that Little Foot would sleep at least for half the trip and then we would only have to deal with a restless toddler for 5 hours.

He did sleep most of the first half and actually ended up taking a really long nap during the afternoon which got us through most of the way down there. I don’t mean to brag, but he did really well! I was expecting the worst and it wasn’t bad at all!

Because I was expecting the worst, I did everything I could think of to make the road trip portion of our vacation easier:

– I packed WAY too many snacks.
– Borrowed a portable DVD player – we forgot to bring a DVD, but turns out my brother left Dora the Explorer DVD inside, so we were good.
– ALL of his favorite toys.
– The smartest thing we did was taking turns sitting in the back if he started getting a little fussy or needed a snack. This honestly, worked the best because he was able to see us and feel like he was taking part in the conversations.
– Stopped and got out to eat, but only if he was awake. Toddler asleep? KEEP ON DRIVING!

First time on the beach!
First time on the beach!

The real fun happened while we were there.

Little Foot was not a fan of the sand…or the sun…or the ocean…

He tasted the sand Every. Day. Just to see if maybe it tasted different. It didn’t.

When we were playing and sitting in the sand, he wouldn’t leave the safety of the umbrella. Even though he was ALWAYS wearing a hat. (When you’re a fair-skinned red-head, you always have to be lathered and covered.) I’m pretty sure it’s because the sun was so bright and reflective off of the sand and water. His refuge under the umbrella made it nice since we didn’t have to worry about him wandering off!

Travel with Toddler
Under the umbrella with all the things including..sand.

The big scary ocean really scared him. Not that I can blame him! It scares me too, especially when I can’t see my feet. Once we would walk out past the breaking of the waves, he was totally OK with it, and really liked hanging out with Mom and Dad just floating in the surf. Mom and Dad really liked it too : )

Something we found out REALLY quickly was that we are forever going to rent the big comfy chairs with the large umbrellas and cushions. At least while we have small children. Carrying a beach bag, beach towels, hats, sand toys, room key, a cooler, our cups, a child, AND chairs was not happening!

Not only did it save us some hassle, it gave us a place to kind of call a home-base while we were down there or to leave some of our less-valuable stuff while we went back up to the room for lunch and naps. The best part? The umbrella guy would come around every hour or so to make sure you were still in the shade. Totally worth it IMO.

Now, don’t read into this too much. We did not have a picture perfect vacation. If you know me, then you know there is always something theatrical that happens at some point.

One day in particular, Ryan and I thought it would be a good idea to start drinking when we went down to the beach…at 10am…it was a great idea till we realized we were starting to feel pretty good. It was on the way back up to the room for lunch that I was 100% sure we were drunk!

Lunch quickly turned into a 3 HOUR nap for Little Foot and Ryan and gave me 3 hours of ALONE BEACH TIME.

During this peaceful solitude, I was feeling a little guilty that we were both drunk by noon and supposed to be caring for our child. That was till I saw another young father of a toddler polish off his fifth of Fireball. I thought to myself, “Nah, we’re good.”

sleeping baby on the beach

Another evening stands out because I thought we got Little Foot drunk.

I was in the upstairs of the condo doing God knows what, while Ryan and Little Foot were downstairs. I had just poured myself a cup of wine in my “sippy cup” when I hear LIttle Foot starting to play on the stairs which is a no, no.

I look down and he has the wine cup to his mouth. It is COMPLETELY. EMPTY. Immediate panic sets in, I sprint down the stairs to start smelling his breath, only to find that he just spilled everything on the stairs and down the front of his shirt.

Our last parenting fail for the week? SO MANY CHICKEN TENDERS AND FRENCH FRIES. Ryan and I go on vacation to eat. If we’re on the coast, we are going to eat good seafood that we can’t get in the land-locked midwest. Needless to say, seafood restaurants don’t really offer much in the way of kids menus that isn’t fried. So, chicken tenders and french fries was a staple in his diet that week. I mean he was on vacation too right?

beach family vacation

All in all, our vacation was exactly what we needed, and was a great first family vacation experience. Nothing too traumatic happened, but we were also really good about just rolling with the punches and enjoying our time as a little family together.