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How to Spring Break as an Adult

I hadn’t been on Spring Break since I was but a naive college kid some, er, years ago. But my mom wanted to celebrate my sister’s last week of (semi-)freedom—she finishes her masters of accountancy in June, takes the last part of the CPA in August and starts her full-time job at a Big Four firm in Charlotte in October—so we left the boys at home to fend for themselves, packed the Enclave and all caravan-ed down to the Florida Panhandle for a week.

Here’s how I recommend planning the ultimate (adult) Spring Break getaway:

1. Sift through the masses of vacation rentals to find a place that works for you.

We had planned to stay at our usual haunt, Sandestin, but when our rental fell through a week before we were set to leave, I hopped on VRBO and frantically started searching for a back-up. There are plenty of cheap hotels in South Walton, Destin and Panama City, but we’re more condo-type people when we vacation in Florida. I’ve generally had decent luck finding places on VRBO in the past, and this time was no exception: There were loads of places available, but most had just two bedrooms and slept a maximum of six. We had eight, and in the end, I booked a three-bedroom, four-bathroom condo right outside of Grayton Beach for a total of $1245 for the week. That’s less than $200 a night and just $155 per person for the whole stay—and in peak season at that. I’m telling you, vacation rentals are the way to go if you want to score a deal.

2. Invite the right people.

In our case this meant one of my mom’s best friends Ginny, who came along as our comic relief; my cousin’s wife Kelly, who is about the most laid-back, pleasant individual to ever roam the planet; and my sister’s three grad school friends, Stephanie, Allie and Kaitlyn, who were not only barrels of fun, but were responsible, clean, thoughtful and all-around delightful. Our condo stayed pretty impeccable given we had eight people dragging in sand from the beach on a daily basis.

3. Leave the go-doers at home.

Have you ever had friends who are incapable of relaxing and doing nothing but sitting on the beach? (I married such a person. Just ask how long he was able to sit still on our honeymoon in Borneo. Half an hour, max, is the answer.) The eight of us were not those people. Many days we stayed by the pool until 5pm, and I think I might have put on clothes that weren’t my bathing suit three times the entire week. My kind of vacation.

We brought several movies, as well as board games, and didn’t break any of them out once. (That could also be due to the fact that at least half of us were glued to our phones playing each other in Draw Something for much of the week.) As usual, I also brought loads of athletic gear that went unused (other than one seven-mile run down the coast), but oh well: There’s plenty of time to work out now that I’m back.

Oh, and there might have been a whole lot of cocktails and wine involved. I’m just sayin’.

4. Bring along friends who love to cook.

Kelly and my cousin Andrew are the types who have pasta-making parties at their home in Birmingham, bake their own bread and do other sorts of kitchen-y tasks I can’t even imagine, so Kelly showed up with a full bag of spices and other accoutrements. This meant we didn’t go hungry, and even though our oven was broken all week, we still had a number of feasts such as red snapper tacos. Kari’s friend Allie, a vegan and master chef, also whipped up some meals for us when the rest of us were too lazy to do so. I love surrounding myself by people who can cook; it makes my life that much easier (and more delicious).

5. …but still plan nights out.

We did go out to eat twice, first to Poppy’s at Baytowne Wharf, then to the popular Red Bar, which we’ve been visiting for the past 15 years and which was conveniently located a mile and a half from our condo. (Personally, I think it’s suffered a case of getting too-popular-for-its-own-good—my food wasn’t nearly as tasty as in the past—and next time I’d like to check out Louis Louis, owned by the same management company, instead.)

And naturally we hit up the Donut Hole for breakfast on the way back out of town. Not to do so would be a sin.

6. Work on your tan.

This was my main objective for the week, and I’d say I accomplished what I set out to do. Before you skin cancer-phobes jump down my throat, I applied SPF 30 all over at least three times a day (I still burned, oops) and wore a hat the entire time.

7. Don’t forget the nail polish.

It’s not a girls’ trip, after all, if manicures aren’t involved.

8. HAVE FUN.

Duh. That one is pretty self explanatory.

*****

This post was written by me (obviously) and made possible by one of our lovely sponsors. If you’re heading to Europe on your own Spring Break, check out Hotels4U’s selection of Paris hotels.

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Comments ( 53 )

  1. Ohhh, can I borrow the master chef and vegan? Because, I need help! =} I like to cook but between my own bad habits and a boyfriend that is soooo picky, I can’t win. Your trip sounds wonderful, and what a lovely group of women! I love the diversity of the ages of the women. If you asked me to hang out with a group of women my age, I would flee. Then again, I would also flee from a bikini. That’s why I need Allie.

    • Ages 23 to 62, ha! And I’m with you: I like to cook (in theory), but I’m usually too lazy (or start too late) to whip up something so gourmet!

  2. Sounds amazing – and your cocktail and cuisine pics are total food porn. Time to delve into cheap flights south!

  3. I love this. I never have traveled with a group of friends, but this sounds like a lot of fun and, with the right personalities, something I would love to do! And, the nail polish? Would never have thought to bring that!

    • My sister’s friends literally brought more than 20 colors! (I almost called them flavors, ha. I like that better. Nail polish flavors.)

  4. Oh, I have SO MANY responses to this post!

    1. I just spent a week in that area! We went to Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, AL for a few days which is lovely and conveniently located near the outlet mall in Foley and Mobile, where we spent a day. The Perdido Beach Resort was absolutely lovely to work with. Then on to Navarre Beach for a press trip and finally a night at Luau at Sandestin. Great trip!
    2. I am using VRBO for the first time this summer for a house in Tybee, so I’m hoping it works out well.
    3. I have been to the Marlin Grill and Bistro Bijoux at Baytown but had not heard of this restaurant. Making a note right now.
    4. I can’t believe we missed going to the Donut Hole. We were planning to stop on our way to the airport but ran out of time. Have to make sure I budget time for that next time!
    5. I am all about a do nothing vacation which will probably happen in Tybee and Savannah in June. Can’t wait…

    • We must have just crossed paths! Funny, I think Poppy’s is the ONLY place I’ve eaten in Baytowne (the condo we usually rent is right there by the wharf).

  5. I’m a pro at doing nothing. You ladies are my type of people. <3

  6. I have never been on Spring Break as an adult, I think I am missing out!

  7. I can be a Go-Do-er if I rally, but in Florida there must be MUUUUUUUUCH time to just bag some rays, I’d bet. Looks like a blast! Glad you had fun.

  8. Oh how fun! So nice to totally relax and enjoy the beach instead of staying too busy. Especially at a comfortable looking place like this. I’d just hire a cook if possible. ;)

    • That’s Scott’s ultimate goal to work toward: being able to hire someone to cook for us daily. One can dream…

  9. Love this post! We are fans of Rosemary Beach and Seaside in that same area. My husband often has multiple snow cones everyday from Frost Bites in Seaside! Also love VRBO- never had a bad experience renting through that site. I agree that it is often a way better deal (and much more cute!) than any hotel!

    • Have you been down to the air stream food carts right across from Bud and Alley’s? Sadly, I didn’t even know they were there until the last night we were in town–but I’ll be back down there in July with the fam, and we will DEFINITELY spend some time dining out in Seaside.

  10. I’m certain I spent a solid 45 mins in a lounge chair while on our honeymoon. Would never have made my way through Stieg Larsson’s books otherwise.

  11. This is why we were so perfect together in the Bahamas. I think all we DID was lie on the beach! Well, and by the pool and on the front of that boat. Got to mix it up a little.

    • Kind of you to omit my little barfing-off-of-the-front-of-the-boat fiasco. And the let’s-take-leaping-pictures-on-the-beach-and-sustain-bodily-harm incident. But that aside, we are PERFECT Spring Break buddies ;-)

  12. I have come back to this page a zillion times today and so feel the need to say that I ain’t stalking you, Kristin. It’s all about that first photograph really – love at first sight et al. :-)

  13. It sounds like a nice vacation! I also married someone that doesn’t enjoy the pool and the beach for longer than 1 hour! I used to stay at apartment rentals with my family in Cartagena and San Andres Island all the time. It was perfect. My last spring break was in 2005 and I didnt know that it was going to be my last. I went to Colombia so I can’t complain. I still had 1 more year in grad school but I decided to get a full time job and study at night. I didn’t know what I was doing – trying to end my college years early!!! haha

  14. I need to do this. Immediately. What a fab vacation!!

  15. Once upon a time I’d have been able to vacation with you and take part in every single part of that relaxation (but now I have a toddler). Your trip sounds PERFECT in every way to me. Lay by the pool until 5pm, do nothing but work on my tan, paint my nails, read a book – YES PLEASE!
    We’re taking our second beach vacation with “Mayhem” in early May and I predict I’ll be spending my days chasing her up and down the beach interrupted only by sprints back to the condo when she yells “Mom, I gotta go potty!” And I guarantee you that the minute I park myself on a beach chair she’ll be in my face with “Mom, I’m hungry! Hungry, Mom, HUNGRY!” At least I’ll be pre-burning off those evening cocktails, right? ;)
    PS- Just found out 2 days ago that a change of plans means we’re heading to Gulf Shores, Alabama instead of Panama City Beach. I’ve never been to either, thoughts or advice?

    • I have not been to Gulf Shores since I was 8, so sadly I’m no help there! I think it’s probably more toddler-friendly than PCB, though, from what I’ve heard/read. I hope your husband offers to watch her at least one day so you can have your nap on the beach ;-)

  16. Sounds like it was a great week! I’ve been wanting to go on a girls weekend to Big Sur with some family members and this is making me think I need to get on that and send out an email or something. :)

    My dad is the kind of person who can’t stand to sit still! He’s always go go go and my mom and I and sometimes my sister just like to relax by the pool and read a book or something. I think my brothers are somewhere in the middle. haha

    • Have you ever stayed in the yurts at Big Sur (Treebones)? That was always on my California bucket list, and sadly I never got around to doing that while I lived out there.

  17. Yum, now I’m hungry. I feel like I haven’t been on a beach vacation in forever where I did nothing but just lie there. It sounds like you had a great time!

  18. Sounds like you had an crazy time! I miss so much having an amazing holidyas with my completely foolish friends! Love doing nothing on holidays but just clubbing, eating and loughing out loud all day lonh! Good job Kristin!

  19. Oh, man, number three means I can’t take this vacation! Actually, I got pretty good at taking it slow in Tahoe, thanks to Brando and his mother. They are both so easy going and spontaneous in finding fun things to do and places to eat that I was able to relax knowing between the two of them we would have something amazing or delicious to do when the time came, which proved true. By the way, I’m a true snowboarder now!! So proud of myself! We made it to the top of Squaw in crazy snowing conditions only to look though – no desire to join the soaked skiiers who were enjoying the fresh powder through the rain at the bottom and wild snow at the top. We snowboarded the whole time at Northstar for a few specific reasons. We did drive around the lake, though, and checked out Heavenly, as well.

  20. Ah – amazing! Andrew and I are thinking about taking a vacation vacation, where we just sit around and sun ourselves, drink delicious cocktails and be generally lazy. Our Europe trip was amazing but we were busy almost the entire time and I’d love a chance to laze about for a bit.

    • Those sorts of cultural vacations are tiring! I feel ya. That’s why we chose a beach in Borneo for our honeymoon and not a city escape–we were literally forced to just chill out as there wasn’t a whole lot to do on the island beyond beaches and nature.

  21. Everyone is wearing such pretty dresses.

  22. What beautiful girls! Any Mom would be lucky to travel with such a charming group!

  23. I am so in need of a relaxing Spring Break!

  24. what a great deal you snagged for the rental! sounds like the way to go.

  25. Sadly I’m one of the people who likes to ‘do’ stuff… relaxing for a few days would be good but after that I want to see stuff! That’s why my ideal spring break would be different than yours haha. But it sounds like you have the right idea!

    • 9 out of 10 times, you and I would make great travel companions…just not on Spring Break when I have an excuse to release my inner sloth ;-)

  26. Errrm….Next time you go on a vacation such as this, call me. I’m the travel companion who loves to loll about on the beach with a book or 12, and also loves to cook. And drink wine.

    What a blast!

  27. Love that you love Seaside, 30A and Sandestin. It is interesting to see another writers approach on the place where I live! I also use VRCO and recommend it to many travelers. I would love to have you guest-post, or re-post this and others that you have done on the area, on my blog 30AEATS.com if interested. I am almost to 5,000 fans on Facebook, write for local and regional publications, and am @fromagechick on twitter. thanks! Susan
    Susan 30A EATS recently posted..Firefly Restaurant: Casual Fine Dining Panama City BeachMy Profile

  28. Well, that really sounds like fun! Can I borrow the cook for my trip? I love to cook, but I’m too lazy to do so when I’m on a vacation. Anyways, it’s good to see that you can still have a great spring break even if you aren’t a student anymore :)

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