My husband and I just came back from a mini-vacation from the West Coast of Florida and boy it was beautiful! Gorgeous shells, sandy beaches, cooing seagulls, and time laughing and bonding with my favorite human!
I love both the East and West Coast of Florida, as they are completely different. From the color of the sand to the towns' vibe and feel- each has its own special charm. There's also something special about getting in a car, plane, or train, and leaving the world behind. It's such an amazing feeling of freedom! We laughed, connected and enjoyed eating and walking the beaches together- something you can't place a price tag on.
Taking a vacation doesn't have to be overly planned or even very long. I enjoy even stay-cations sometimes. Staycations can be an excellent way to recoup and feel your own spirit come back without going anywhere! However, we are going to focus on actually leaving the home type vacations in this article and some ways to enjoy it even with a demanding schedule.
Last weekend we decided to take a short two-hour drive across the state of Florida over to Naples and Marco Island. It was actually less than two hours. The weather has been especially rainy here in South Florida and we didn't know what to expect but we didn't let that stop us either! We usually get a few hours of sunshine during the rainy season here in Florida- and that's exactly what happened to our delight! We were able to enjoy two nights and three full days complete with breakfast. No problem. Eazy Peazy.
Naples has just about everything you would want in a vacation with Marco Island being a short thirty-minute drive to the south. Shops, restaurants, stores, beaches. What else do you need? One of our favorite ice cream shops is right there smack dab in the middle of Naples and we always indulge in a nice chocolate ice cream and we even have pizza at a place that is authentic Italian called "Cosmos". Don't go anywhere else- unless you want to be disappointed!
Here's a couple of tips for planning your weekend getaway that we think you will find helpful and quite enjoyable. These are suggestions so feel free to add your own additions!
1. Pack light. Ladies this one is especially for us. Husbands and or your significant other won't enjoy a vacation if he has to carry a bunch of bags, purses, extras, etc., so go light. If you can't carry it yourself comfortably- don't bring it.
2. Think about what you want to do. In my case, I want to walk on the ocean, snorkel, and collect shells. I don't do well in super hot weather so I bring breathable clothing that can double as a beach cover-up and sun protection as well as double up as a nice light nightwear cover-up. Taking a hat and sunglasses is wise and sunscreen is a must. Word to the wise, take bug spray for sure. Especially if you plan to travel to a deserted beach (all beaches near Naples and Marco) or walking anywhere at night or near any body of water. If you like to do other things that are not on this list, then plan it and make it easy on both of you to be as hands-free as possible.
3. Beach Items/easy carry. I opt for one lipstick and one lip balm and that's it. I use the color of the lipstick on my cheeks and lips and that way I don't have to take so much with me. I bring one credit card, some cash, a waterproof phone pouch (I get mine at dive shops), and I toss those items in a small easy to carry cross-body type shoulder pocket purse. I can also throw shells in it if need be. See where I'm going? Think dual purpose and you will have more "ease".
4. You will likely want a beach bag to hold "stuff" in so opt for one that keeps water out if possible. We made the mistake of bringing a cooler that my husband had to lug around and next time we will bring two ice cooler knapsacks (you know the ones that look like something from NASA? Yeah, those! I am looking for two today so we don't have to do that again. Think light-weight and you will both enjoy yourselves.
Each person can carry their own items which makes it better for the other person to not feel like a mule if they do need to help you. I would add ice and some fruit to those NASA sacks as dehydration is a real thing here in Florida. If you get a headache- you're dehydrated and those headaches can quickly turn into migraines and be very UN-fun, so bring a lot of cool water. We freeze our water bottles the night before. I know people say it's not good to drink cool water- not true in Florida. Cold is king here. It will take away a headache fast. Just do it.
I also cut a bar of soap into a few pieces and take a washcloth with me to rinse off after the beach. You may think that's overkill, but with all the water issues today- it's wise to shower off- and I use soap- bar soap and yes it's also a sanitizer as much as anything, studies have shown. Liquid soap is much too drying especially if you are out in the sun all day and get sunburnt. Bar soap is more moisturizing and better for you and the ecosystem as well.
5. The one thing that is really optional is where you stay. If money isn't an issue then, by all means, stay at the best place you can afford, after all, you ARE on vacation! If you want a little bit more of a budget-friendly place, then look for 8.6 ratings or higher and select "breakfast included". Here's a list to get you started. There's everything from $56 and up a night. There really is no excuse not to get away for a few days. Just bring the essentials and you will be happy.
6. Hotel Room. They can be a little smelly in my opinion. There are so many people that stay there. I bring my own candle and soap. You only need one of each. One can get away with a few nights of crummy shampoo but not soap for the body. Besides, bar soap doubles as shampoo so you're good to go. It's just not worth it to forgo bringing a candle and a good moisturizing bar soap. It makes such a difference at night and brings a gentle sensual feeling to a room, bath and evening with loved ones. Bringing candles and soap- is a small addition and very much appreciated along with some moisturizer and after-sun care.
7. BONUS TIP (optional but most important)
Take a great attitude with you. Leave behind any unmet needs and just be free again. So often we have high expectations for another person to meet all our needs and it can sap the joy out of an opportunity to connect with a traveling companion pretty quick. Leave your rules and expectations at the edge of the sea and let them float away and just enjoy the fact that you have eyes to see the beautiful blue sky reflecting off the ocean, ears to hear the seagulls and soft swishing sound of the ocean tide, hands to sift the grains of sand and collect a shell or two, and a beautiful open heart to give and receive love. Use words if necessary. What else do we really need in life? Joy is free and it can be had with simply making a choice to be grateful for what you do have- right in front of your eyes. So get away -even if for a weekend and enjoy the sights and sounds.
Happy Soul Vacation...
Photo by Michelle Touchstone