We just got back from the Alabama Gulf Coast.  Gulf Shores is our favorite vacation spot during the summer or at least it is where we go for our beach get-a-ways anyways.  We usually book a condo around this time of year but this was our first time to actually be at the beach during Memorial Day…big mistake!  It was so crowded especially when it came down to dinner time. 

Last year we went to Gulf Shores right before the oil spill effected the beaches.  Surprisingly people had already started to cancel reservations and it was not crowded at all…the beaches were still oil free and beautiful.  This was the week before Memorial Day.  This year my husband thought the beaches would be the same since some schools were still in session because of lost days with snow but this was not the case.

Thankfully, starting about Tuesday the crowds were a little better.   We had planned a little better about when to go in from the pool so no more two hour waits for dinner at our favorite places to eat.  Two hours might be okay if it was just the two of us and a few cocktails but with a 5-year old who has been at the pool all day…..two hours is too long to wait for dinner.   By Wednesday, little boy was more used to the water at the pool (was jumping in) but was done with the beach.  It was starting to get hotter and I think without any shade on the beach the heat was getting to him.  Next time we’ll rent a chair and umbrella on the beach 🙂

What lessons did I learn this trip? 

1.  Do not go to the beach on Memorial Day weekend if you have to eat out every meal.

2.  Buy all your pool and beach toys and supplies before you leave home.  I bought a bucket and shovel etc at Target for $2.50.  Buy several things for them to play with and don’t give them all to them the first day.  Bring out a different toy or floatie each day.  Boy got bored playing with the same things each day.  Goggles were a must for him and a few floaties.  I wasted my money on a swim vest (would not be the first time I wasted money on things I thought would make him safer)…..with a pair of goggles he was jumping in the pool like a super-hero…no fear!

3.  Pack as much dry supplies as you can so that you won’t have to continually run to the grocery store when you forget to get mayo your first trip.  We packed toilet paper, paper towels, mayo, pickles, snacks etc and just grabbed cold items.  Too many trips to the grocery store is boring for anyone at the beach but for a small child….no fun..unless you are buying cookies each time..ha!

4.  My most suggested item to pack was quart sized plastic zip lock bags.  Used them to bag up Cheezits, goldfish etc to have in our beach bag as well as very handy to wrap up cameras and cell phones to keep out sand and water.  This was my first year to bring them and I am so thankful I did.  Although I saw several mothers with snacks at the pool, I would have never thought it would be so handy to have a ziplock full of cheezits poolside…..

5.  If you are staying at a condo and can afford to…rent a chair and umbrella at least one day while at the beach.  It is much easier than toting your own stuff down and it provides a place of shade for the young children.  I think we would have spent more time on the actual beach if we had.  We could have saved a lot of money and just gone to a hotel in our town to use a pool….I go to the beach to be on the beach!  LOL

6.  This was the first year we actually went to a little park in the early evening hours before dinner which was a great experience.  He has probably been old enough before but to see him drive his own go-cart on the kiddy track was something to see.  He is growing up too fast!  It was well worth the money for a few kiddy rides and arcade games and something he really enjoyed.  We’ll do this again for sure,

These were my lessons learned this time but each time we travel with little boy I learn something new about what would have made the trip a little more enjoyable. 

Overall we had a great time but were glad to be home.  We could have stayed another day but with temperatures getting hotter at home I was worried about my animals.  Everything was fine when we got home….so now I’m ready to go back to the beach!