Hey friends! It’s been a few months since my last blog post, but this mamma is back! It is officially spring here in Tennessee and the weather is finally starting to warm up a bit. In March we went on a family trip to the beach and it was Penelope’s first time experiencing sand and the ocean. I love when we get to show her new things and help her experience different places other than her home. I figured I would tell you guys about the trip itself, about how traveling with a 15 month old went, and some things we learned along the way.
The trip down went amazingly in my opinion. We chose to leave super early on Thursday morning. My husband and I got up at 3am and got the car loaded, the dog walked, etc. We wanted everything to be done so that once we got Penelope out of bed we could just leave. So at 4am we got her up and took her straight to the car. We left her in her jammies and just buckled her in and gave her Lamby (her sleep buddy). We chose to do it this way because the trip itself is about a 7 hour trip from Nashville to Panama City Beach. So we figured if we left at 4 and didn’t stop for the first time until 7 then we were already almost half way through the trip. Plus from 4-6/6:30 it would be dark out and we knew she would sleep in the car for the majority of that. So for the most part that plan worked. We ended up stopping around 6:30am for my husband to have breakfast at Waffle House. While he had breakfast I nursed Penelope for the first time that morning, changed her diaper, and got her dressed for the day. I had already eaten some overnight oats around 4:30am that morning once we left so after he had his breakfast we ran over to Starbucks where I got a couple bagels and a coffee. Then we were back on the road again.
The next part of the trip went pretty smoothly. We drove from about 7:30 until around 10am. We stopped for gas, snacks, etc and I nursed Penelope again. I believe sometime between breakfast and this stop I fed her a banana for her breakfast. The trip from around 10 until 12:30 when we arrived in Panama was probably the hardest part for her, but to be completely honest it wasn’t that bad. I did end up getting in the back seat with her and letting her have a treat of watching an episode of The Magic School Bus. We have never let her watch TV before and my husband and I really only watch TV after she’s in bed. The reasoning for this rule in our house is more for another blog post, but I say this to show this was truly a treat.
We arrived in Panama around 12:30 and met up with family for lunch. I believe Penelope had a short 30 minute nap from around 12-12:30 in the car. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch with family and then spent time walking on the beach and visiting Pier Park while we waited for our check in time for the Air BNB we were staying at.
Over the next several days we did lots of fun activities, but I must say that I think Penelope’s favorite part of the whole trip was getting to play with her older cousins. She truly loves other children. She played with them and hung out with them the majority of the time and would even ask for them in the mornings when she was up before them.
Penelope’s experience with the sand at the beach was a bit of a give and take. The very first day when I put her in it she was a bit confused by it, but eventually sat in it and was OK. She didn’t want to put her hands in it though. She has a weird thing about getting her hands dirty. Side story: when I make pancakes I have to put small drops of syrup on the pancakes so that it soaks into the pancakes and doesn’t leave any syrup on her hands. Anyways she did OK with it that first day until we took her to the water. She then cried the rest of the time at the beach that day if we even tried to put her down. Granted the water was cold and I suspect the idea of the ocean might have been scary for her. We had also been in the car all day and she hadn’t had a good nap, etc. That evening we did the sky wheel at pier park and she absolutely loved it. It’s a ferris wheel with enclosed air-conditioned seating. So she loved getting to stand and look out the window at everything below.
The next day we did a boat dolphin tour with the same company that Phillip and I did one with when we came to PCB back in 2015. That was the beach trip where he proposed to me on the first day, so we loved the sentimental idea of it, but failed to put much more thought into it than that. First off the wind was super cold this early in the year with the air coming off the water. Thankfully Penelope had a jacket and that part didn’t seem to bother her. The other thing was that it was a two and a half hour tour. She loved it for about the first 30 minutes and then was just over it. She just wanted to run around. So that made it a bit tough. The other mistake we did was we went during her nap time. So in the future I would advise going about a month later than when we went so that the wind isn’t so cold and you have more options with the different tours, don’t go during nap time, and pick a shorter tour. She did get the chance to drive the boat though (they let all the kids come up and hold the steering wheel and honk the horn) and that was super fun. And we did see dolphins! Over all it was a great trip and I would recommend it.
Our last full day there we spent at the beach. Penelope did much better this day and really actually enjoyed it. We did get an umbrella for her so she was always in the shade and I nursed her while we were out there to keep her hydrated as well as brought her a cup of water. She enjoyed playing in the sand (didn’t want it touching her hands though) with her toys and watching the beach. We got some super cute photos of her “building” sand castles with her cousins and I.
Overall the trip was a success and we will definitely be doing it again. Next time we will make sure we go about a month later. We went at the tail end of March this year but in the future we will probably go around May or during the fall. The ride home was way tougher for Penelope and ever since she has had a hard time in the car seat where as before this trip she had never got upset about being in it. We are hoping that will fade as time goes on and she realizes she isn’t going to be stuck in the seat for hours on in every time we put her in there.
Also just a little bit about how I handled nursing while traveling. I think I have stated in the past that if I am with Penelope I don’t pump. So I didn’t bring any of my pumping equipment with me on this trip. We just nursed on demand the whole time. I have gotten very comfortable with nursing in public and have learned to let go of what others might think. For me this has helped me tremendously to not have to schedule out the nursing times and spots. I just nurse her when she wants and where ever we may be. Like I said earlier in the blog, I nursed her on the beach and just threw a towel over her upper body and my breast and she nursed. I hope all mommas out there can become comfortable and confident with nursing in public (if that’s your desire). I will say it makes things so much easier.
I hope you all have enjoyed this small traveling blog and we can’t wait for our next family vacation. If you have any recommendation for driving vacations from Nashville please comment below and let us know and tell us why. Phillip and I love traveling and would love new ideas.
Baby Dust To All,