Good morning, everyone! We went on a vacation to Clearwater, FL last week, and I can’t wait to share all about it. In this post I’ll be recapping our general travels and everything that all encompassed with our 11 month old, Quinn. I’ll also chat about our first evening in the Sunshine State and share some yummy food!
The night before we left we soaked up our time with Moose. He was going to be safe and happy at his Aunt Marie’s, but this would be the longest we had ever been away from him. It ended up being really tough for all of us! Even Quinn woke up the first morning and giggled when she thought she saw Moose at the end of our bed- but it was just a suitcase :(. Needless to say, being reunited with Moose was a huge highlight returning from this wonderful trip ☺️.
Gigi and Gordie graciously offered to take us to the airport at the wee hours of the morning. We left the house around 530 AM. Packing for this trip took extra organization and planning given we were away for six nights, and we were flying.
I tried not to overpack and planned out most days’ outfits for both me and Quinn. I usually just throw everything in a suitcase under the weight limit and call it a day, but not this time. It was nice traveling somewhere warm since we didn’t have a lot of bulky items to pack, minus a go-to sweatshirt for cooler evenings.
The big question mark going into this trip was how to travel with breast milk. Each airline has a policy, so I looked up the one we’d be flying and followed accordingly. I found this cooler, packed it with two big ice packs and put the breast milk in. I packed about 20 oz that I pumped specifically extra for this trip (about 1-2 oz a day for the last few weeks). The cooler worked just well enough for our 11ish hour travel day, but the milk was just starting to defrost by the time I took it out. If you get this cooler, make sure you use some good ice packs and multiple of them!
We ended up packing two suitcases, the cooler and had a carry-on mini suitcase. The carry-on contained extra outfits, shoes, toys, bathing suits and essentials in case luggage got lost/delayed.
Also! Some airlines don’t consider a diaper bag a carry on, so that was nice!
First things first. You can guess what that is! While at Starbucks, I grabbed a fruit pouch for Quinn along with an oatmeal. She wanted nothing to do with the oatmeal but slurped down the fruit pouch.
She conked back out before our first leg of the trip, so we just did circles on foot around the Cleveland airport until it was time to board. We boarded last to give her as much time to sleep as possible.
And here we go!!!
After her nap, she had a LOT of energy for the first two hour stretch of the flight. We were already exhausted by the time of our layover 😅. We brought along some toys for the airplane. This little window spinner worked for about 2 minutes 🤪. Nothing occupied this girl more than the back safety inserts in the plane and a plastic water bottle.
We were nervous the loud, rumbling take off would scare her, but she was all smiles as the plane started moving and gliding into the air.
She slept the second leg of the trip which was much more chill and allowed me time to watch the Love Is Blind finale!
We landed, got our luggage and headed out to our rental without a hitch….until we encountered our biggest foe of the entire trip. Dun-dun-dunnnnnn. I thought assembling the stroller was one of the greatest challenges our marriage had faced yet- but we hadn’t come face to face with a rental car seat! We saw all these other parents carrying their car seats through the airport, and we are 1000% doing that next time. It took us a good 40 mins to figure the foreign contraption installation out. I was also getting hangry which didn’t help the situation 🥴. Quinn was a trooper though – she barely fussed which helped tremendously in that somewhat stressful moment. DJ figured it out and turns out all my ideas were probably just delaying success with the darn thing 🤪.
Once we were on our way into Clearwater, we felt a huge sense of relief. There was bumper to bumper traffic for a festival, so the usual 30 minute drive took us a good hour.
But we made it!!!
We stayed at Sandpearl Resort. The service was wonderful, even before we got there. I called a couple weeks prior to the trip because I hoped to have meals delivered for Quinn from Little Spoon since I was worried there wouldn’t be enough for her to eat at restaurants that wasn’t loaded with dairy/sodium/etc. The hotel made it seem like it was absolutely no big deal, and they made sure we were all set and comfortable the minute we arrived. They also acted like it was no big deal storing my breast milk in their chef freezer. They promised it would be stored among the “best seafood and steaks around” 😄. I don’t know why but that statement made me giggle- just envisioning my milk next to a bunch of lobster, I suppose!
One of my favorite parts of the room is it had a Nespresso machine!! I was so WRONG about Nespresso! I think I just never tried the right pods for me- because the ones they had in the room I became quickly obsessed with. I am kicking myself for ever returning the one I had 🥲.
The views out our room were so peaceful. I don’t usually care much for a view on vacations- I figure you’ll be out and about in what you’d be seeing, so why pay extra to view it from afar? But waking up to this (which wasn’t even considered one of their rooms with a great view), may have opened my eyes quite literally to the bliss of a beautiful view. Basically the moral of the story is my mind was changed a lot on this trip, hah!
Back to Little Spoon- I’ve never tried this service out before but figured it’d be a good time to give it a go! They make organic, nutritious meals that are appropriate for baby led weaning and chock full of creativity and flavor (I actually usually finished Quinn’s meals when she didn’t- they were good!).
Here are the meals loaded into our fridge! I opted for 14 meals for the 6 night stay, and it was just the right amount. She finished her last meal the night before we left. We just took them heated up to restaurants with us or gave them to her in the room (the resort brought us up a high chair).
We also did an Instacart Order from a nearby grocery store to stock up on diapers/wipes, random snacks, Serenity Kids and other fruit/veggie pouches, teether crackers, almond yogurt, peanut butter, nut pod coffee creamer and sunscreen. We tried to avoid packing things we could just stock up on once we arrived, and that worked well!
We took turns getting ready for our dinner out and then hit the main drag in Clearwater on foot. I dressed Quinn in a dress from Cozumel from her Grammy and Grampy who were flying in that evening to join us for some of our vacation!
Practicing our waving 🥰.
Being on this main strip energized me immediately!! I love being out and about in any city we’re visiting. I had a moment of thinking “Wow, we’re actually doing it!! We’re on vacation with our girl!”. It felt like a fusion of our life of travel prior to Quinnie to our life with her. And it was the BEST of all worlds!! 🥰
Someone else didn’t quite feel as energized as their mom; Quinn decided it was an excellent time for a nap. I was relieved she fell asleep though- it was a long travel day & she was taking in a lot of newness!
We caught a glimpse of the festival happening – an easy target to spot given the Ferris wheel.
At the end of the main strip is a building that houses multiple restaurants and shops. On the rooftop was our destination: Marina Cantina.
This place was a whole vibe. From the live music under delicate string lights, to the tables with crystal clear views of the pier to the fantastic presentation of the dishes to the warm, amicable infectious mood of the patrons- it was the best kick-off to our vacation!
My mom and Pete arrived a little after us but just on time to get orders in. We started with their chips, salsa, queso and guac trio (naturally). I wanted to dive into that queso so badly- soon enough hopefully! A couple more weeks till we trial dairy again!
The salsa and guac I had was extra good. Fresh as all get out!
I brought Quinn a Little Spoon meal with beans, corn and chicken. I also gave her some of the yummy guac.
I ordered a virgin spicy margarita that was sooo tasty!
Quinn spending time with Grammy before the food arrived 🥰.
Time for more food!!! Get a load of this cornbread 😍
My mom and I split the ever so tasty Spanish octopus dish and the kale salad. I was craving something light and refreshing after a travel day, and this meal hit the spot! (Still, no Spanish octopus compares to what I had at Marco Prime).
Three generations 🥰.
Taking full advantage of having family around to take family pics!
After dinner, we were all ready to turn in after the long, yet beautiful, day.
Once Quinn was asleep I quietly unpacked/organized everything: I felt wired and didn’t love the idea of going to sleep with our suitcases exploded everywhere. I don’t usually unpack for short trips, but I definitely do for the ones that are closer to a week. I finally slipped into bed around 10 pm, giddy thinking about the week ahead!
Questions for you:
– Do you usually unpack your suitcase on trips?
– If you had to choose between guac, salsa and queso, which would you choose? Sorry to even put that hypothetical in your mind!