The depression is real over here in the midwest right now. We are knee deep in our 2nd full Nebraska winter, and let’s just say that we aren’t built for the cold. Although, this winter is apparently the worst winter in the last 30 years here, so everyone is basically over the gray skies, massive snow days, and deathly windchills.
In true Floridian fashion, I was going insane. I was unkind, unhappy, unmotivated, and consumed with leaving this ‘Arctic Hell’ (as Scarlett calls it). We were planning on spending the winter vacationing this year, but I thought I could brave a winter – I mean, maybe I was just being a baby about it all last year. I did pretty well, if I can compliment myself. I survived miserably until February before John pulled the trigger on shipping me off to the ocean.
If you are in a similar state of winter depression and need a quick escape, I highly recommend spending the next few days searching for the cheapest flight that leaves within a few hours drive of you. You can spend a day traveling to your destination and a day traveling back. Fitting everything into one checked back and giving your kids a backpack for the plane filled with new knick knacks will make the travel more bearable.
Once I decided I wanted to take my oldest two kids along with the youngest and I, ticket prices were in the scary price range for a long weekend getaway. I’m talking $500+ per seat. Well, we aren’t rich over here, so my beach dreams began to fade…. until I extended my search to the airport 3 hours away. BINGO. Tickets were half the price. I jumped on plane tickets, paid for a bag, booked a parking spot, and started packing.
I contacted as many friends as I could because I wanted my days to be filled with hugs, laughter, and wonderful conversations. Because I grew up in the area, I had family to visit, too. There were too many people to see with too little time to do it all, but I knew that the beach was calling…
Thanks to an old friend, I was reminded that the trip was truly about getting our fill of sunshine, warmth, and ocean waves. I booked a night at The Hollywood Costa Resort in Hollywood beach, right behind the ‘broadwalk.’ While it was a splurge, I needed 24 hours of beach in my life, and staying with family wouldn’t get me that. It was worth the splurge, as a dear friend drove in from out of town and stayed up late into the night while the kids ran on the sand and margaritas were poured. Nothing beats a big white resort bed either.
Find your connections and reach out to old friends – or even friends of friends. You may be able to make your quick trip even better by adding in something you normally wouldn’t do.
The first travel day was excessively long, between driving and flights, but having my dad waiting with an SUV for us made it easier. My mom reserved a carseat for Veda, and we invested in MiFold boosters for the big kids (I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THEM). After a late bedtime, we headed to the beach as the sun rose Friday morning. Friends joined us, as did my mom. The sun was breathtaking, so was the warmth, although our skin had not seen an UV ray in over 6 months, so we were hurting, even with sunscreen. But the ice-cream shop helped everyone feel a little better.
The kids and I headed to my dad’s pool for a chilly dip and some wine with wonderful company before seeing more family at dinner. Saturday morning was yoga-filled before devouring a Publix sub, more pool time, and finally heading to the resort. A second day of ice-cream was in order, as were hats and rash guards in the sun. The rooftop pool was hopping, and the margaritas were on point. We stayed up until well past dark and dove into the waves as early as possible the next morning. Several lifelong friends arrived with their families, and my kids had about 15 instant Florida friends. Of course, more ice-cream was in the cards.
It was hard to say goodbye to the ocean, and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t cry a bit. The salty air, the palm trees, the memories, knowing that it wasn’t where my kids were growing up… it stung a bit. But I am so grateful for the escape.
Traveling home was hard. We missed John, Lyle, and Ollie so much, and I regret not spending the extra money to have everyone come. Landing back in the midwest to more snow than we had left behind was also hard. Emmett asked if the plane would just take us back to Florida.
The tans are fading and the snow is still standing, but our memories are strong.
If you are debating a quick winter escape, jump on the cheapest flight and do it. Feeling the sun on your face and the salty air through your hair will be worth every penny spent.