Don't Forget To Do This On Your Vacation

Southeast Toyota Distributors, LLC provided me with compensation and use of a RAV4 for a short period of time.
The opinions I have shared about this vehicle are my own.

quote via

It's hard for me to relax on vacation, especially since my Daddy's death, but when my best friend announced a beach trip, I knew I had to go. The destination? Panama City Beach, FL. The reason? My best friend's birthday. The group? Me, my best friend, and another friend who brought her youngest son. Having him there, and it being such a special occasion made me really want to focus on that one thing we forget to do on vacation: make memories.

Tell me if you can relate to these past vacation experiences: always in a hurry, trying to get everyone collected and ready for that day's agenda. Arguments ensue over places to eat and things to do or being lost. It's hot, and people are cranky. You hear someone say they just wanna go home. And another year's vacation leaves you lacking the experience you wanted to have. The vacations end up blurring together. But not this time! Keep reading as I share my memories.

me, in the RAV4 that I got to drive for the trip!

We left Thursday morning from ATL and headed to PCB. I had the privilege of getting to drive a 2015 Toyota RAV4 Limited. And y'all, it was one of the highlights of the trip. I am absolutely serious. If you've not seen the 2015 model, please check it out. First, we were able to fit all of us plus our belongings with plenty of room to spare. I felt completely safe having my loved ones in this vehicle. We drove down there on one tank of gas (what!). We made memories in there.

And now my techy-side comes in: I had too much fun playing with all of the RAV4 features, like the navigation system (I get lost easily) and how it showed you what awaited on the next exit. I got so excited about the Bluetooth capabilities and the Entune Premium Audio because we all know the best part of any road trip is the music!

Our condo wasn't ready but instead of getting frustrated and skipping valuable beach time, we changed in a restaurant bathroom. It ended up being a gorgeous day. It looked as calm as a lake. There was lots of laughter, relaxation, and good memories were made.

Quick pic of the group in the parking lot before dinner

After a day of fun, we got dressed and went for a celebratory birthday dinner. The restaurant lost our reservation, so a 90 minute wait it was. Again, we chose to make memories instead of complaining about it. We took pics, sang songs, played games, and embarrassed the birthday girl--a must. We put our phones away at dinner. We made memories.

You gotta get a tourist tee, am I right?

But of course we did more than hang out at the beach. We hopped in the Toyota RAV4 and went shopping (duh!) including trips to the grocery store (for snacks), to Walmart (beach toys for the boy), drugstores for makeup (me!), and to Alvin's Island for tacky souvenirs (a must). We all bought cheesy, cheap touristy-tees. I'm kinda loving that neon ombre, though!

The next day the elevator was broken, so we got our cardio in by going down 17 flights of stairs! We went to the beach for a bit but there was a storm in the distance. The waves were too rough to play in and the wind sent stinging sand on our faces. We made a group decision to pack it in. Hard to believe just a day ago it was so nice and calm. But we made the best out of it by doing more shopping (as mentioned earlier) and playing some Goofy Golf. I love retro places like this--it's been around since 1959 and features various animals and creatures on its mini golf course. My fave is the dinosaur!

The next day was Father's Day--I was dreading since it was my first without my Daddy. Early that morning the I drove the RAV4 to the pier and had a private prayer for my Dad (he loved the beach/being by water). When I opened my eyes I saw a rainbow. You can see it a little in the pic above. As soon as I took this pic, it disappeared.

And just like that, it was time to head home. We packed up, and I'm still amazed that everything (and us) fit in the Toyota RAV4, especially with the new additions of a shovel and body surfing board. We came back a little tanner, a little tired, but ever so thankful. It was a wonderful vacation, full of memories and I cannot wait until next year.

Tears and Tantrums-0
Calories Consumed-0 (calories don't count on vacation)
Legos Lost-3
Embarrassing Stories Told--7
Memories Made-Priceless

Do you have a vacation story or vacation post you'd like to share? 
Leave it in the comments! I'd love to see it.

Extra Elle:


  1. Oh I love that rainbow! Your daddy was definitely sending you a message!
    You are totally right and you and your friends had the best attitude. Why waste time and be upset when you can enjoy and make memories right?

    little luxury list formerly Chic 'n Cheap Living

  2. What a fun trip! And you're right, why get irritated over the little things, you're on vacation so you might as well just enjoy it and go with the flow! And yes, calories don't count on vacation!

    <3, Pamela
    Sequins & Sea Breezes

  3. What perfect timing for the rainbow. So glad you had a great time, much needed. Everything is better on vacation.

  4. Oh my going down 17 flight of stairs - I sure hope it was fixed when you came back!! Sounds like a wonderful trip especially with the embarrassing stories told count!! :) xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

  5. That quote is perfect and such a good reminder! I think your Dad was definitely with you when you saw that rainbow!

    Doused In Pink

  6. It looks like you had a great time despite the obsticals, which can be hard to do! We seem to be consumed with our phones lately so it's nice to be able to look up and take in the moments around us. And a trip to Alvin's Island is a must when in PCB!


    Whitney & Blaire

    Peaches In A Pod

  7. How gorgeous is that water?! So glad you got to have a fun getaway at such a beautiful place to create new memories. And that Rav4 is awesome, what a nice perk :-D

  8. I love that you chronicled the trip like this - whenever I travel I bring a journal so I can write little notes about things. It makes a big difference.

    Courtney ~ Sartorial Sidelines

  9. Gorgeous images, Elle! I'm so glad you were able to make so many amazing memories girl! And that car...love!


  10. love that quote and the whole idea - i definitely focus too much on plans and go go go and i miss the actual holiday part of my holiday! oh my gosh, i walk up 2 flights of stairs each day - i don't know if i could do 7 let alone 17!! dang.
    i love toyota but i am not a fan of the rav4, personally. fun that you got to drive it though!

  11. I loved the pictures and the Memories' making suggestion! You had lots to complain and you didn't, and it's great to make memories! Elevator broken, restaurant losing our reservation, a 90 minute-wait, but still, you all made nice memories! I also love tacky souvenirs :) And - calories on vacations, I like that part - will think of that when I eat cakes next vacation!

  12. Panama City Beach or bust baby!! Thank you for reminding us to savor memories and signs like that are your daddy wrapping you in his love!! xo


  13. Thank you for sharing this, Elle:) You needed a break like this, and what better way to do it than in an awesome place with awesome people driving an awesome car:)

  14. So much fun!!! Love the new Rav4s! And yes calories never count on vacation!

    <3 Shannon
    Upbeat Soles

  15. looks like such a great vacation! and totally well-deserved! :) xo jillian - cornflake dreams

  16. sounds like you had an amazing trip. The water look beautiful.


  17. I love the rainbow from your dad...beautiful. And you nailed in regard to how vacations usually go. The quote is perfect and something we all need to keep in mind.

  18. That sounds like such a fun getaway, and one you really needed :) How cool that you got to drive that car, what an awesome collaboration! And I agree... calories totally don't count on vacation!

  19. Sounds like you all had such a positive attitude and a wonderful getaway! I love that you got a rainbow pic. Definitely a sign from heaven! :)

  20. I'm glad you had a wonderful vacation and made some great memories, Elle! I tried to put away my phone and focus on the experience during my recent trip to California. I'm also glad you got to spend some time alone on Father's Day thinking about your dad. It is beautiful that you saw a rainbow right at that moment. I am continuing to send love and hugs your way.

  21. Thanks for sharing your trip! I love that you got the important tourist t-shirt. A trip isn't complete without it. :)


  22. Awww , so well written. What a nice little trip! Kisses Sissi www.beauty4free2u.com

  23. Sounds like you had a lovely time! Love the story about the rainbow :)

  24. Oh wow! The water looks so blue!

  25. I loved seeing your vacation shots on Instagram. You really looked like you had a great time. I know it hurts, but your dad would want you to have a good time. (: I can't wait to leave for vacation tomorrow night! Today and tomorrow seem to be draggggging! (;

  26. What a fun little vacation. I'm glad you had a lot of laughs and memories to share. The part about the prayer and rainbow gave me goosebumps!

  27. What a trip!
    So cool you got to share a private moment for your dad- and a rainbow! You know he's watching over you, Elle! :)

    Love the pics- I need a beach vacay like STAT.

    Le Stylo Rouge

  28. Mini golf on corny courses are a MUST on vacation!
    I want a new car with all the fun new technology!!!
    I love you saw a rainbow on Father's day... that just gives me chills!

  29. Making memories on a trip is so important...and basically the point of them in my book because the trip goes by so fast that all you have left is the memories of it! I try not to let little things that happen bother me because I am there to relax. Love this!

  30. You're so right!! We often fail to relax on vacation and then wonder why we're exhuasted when we return home. I'm going to make it a point on my next trip to completely unplug and enjoy the surroundings and those that I'm there with.

  31. Wow this post could not have come at a better time! I am literally scrambling right now stressing over this weekend's vacation and this a great reminder to chill out and enjoy time with friends. Thanks for sharing!!

    xo Ivette

  32. 17 flights of stairs?! Geez louise! Looks like you had a great time! I try really hard to make memories when I can. Sometimes that doesn't mean a vacation, but just the dishwasher not getting unloaded as promptly or the laundry getting postponed.
    Southern Elle Style

  33. Whenever I'm on vacation, I always think about the tons of things I have to do once I get back home. It's so hard for me to just relax and turn my brain off. I need to get better at it. So glad you had a good time!

  34. This was a really fun and inspiring posts. So many times we forget to make memories because we are stuck behind our phone trying to capture the moment so our friends can like the picture. I've totally been guilty of that myself. Thanks for sharing this with us!!

  35. It has been ages since I have bn on a holiday.. beach picnics holidays r always fun.. fab pics !!

  36. I really admire how you took some tough situations and did your best with them. You are so brave, and I'm so glad you had a good trip!
    xx, Victoria

  37. Beautiful post Elle! I am so glad you had such an amazing trip! I definitely miss my trips that my friends and I would take to Galveston (it looks very similar to yours). I love the fact that a rainbow appeared when you were praying.. your dad is truly watching over you!

    xoxo Amanda

  38. So fun!! Looks like such a fun trip!
    Melanie @ meandmr.com

  39. Your Dad was definitely with you that day! Looks like you had such a fun trip :)


  40. This is all too familiar - the rushing and the grumps that is! But that beach photo more than made up for it!

  41. It's impossible to put your phone down on a trip when you're a blogger though because you want to document EVERYTHING! Looks like y'all had a blast though :)

  42. Loved this post! I went to PCB twice in college for spring break.... and it def did not look like pretty either time. Rather.. it was covered in beer cans and drunk people hahaha.

    But I can TOTALLY relate to this. The last trip to PCB was with 13 girls.... if that doesn't explain it in a nutshell how crazy it was... I don't know what will!

    I actually just got back from vacation last Friday from Surfside Beach, TX near Galveston. We went with my boyfriend's mom and their second family. To say the least, it wasn't much of a vacation for Hunter and I... doing what everyone else wanted, being rushed to do things and to get places, being controlled by other people and children. We needed the break the most and felt like we couldn't really relax at all!

    Anyway, thanks for the post! Love relating to others! :)

    xoxo, Nickie

  43. The thing with most vacations is that you never know what might happen. You guys had a great attitude with making the best of everything. The memories really are the best part of any getaway and it sounds like you made some great ones with this trip.

    Rowena @ rolala loves

  44. Love this post! I'm all about traveling, so I love to hear other's stories and tips for traveling :)

    xx Bri

  45. This was such a great post Elle! I'm so glad you had a great time! I have never been to PCB but I would like to go someday!

    Amanda || www.fortheloveofglitter.com

  46. The rainbow is beautiful! I'm also digging the tourist tee! :)

  47. My man's stepmother has a Rav4 and loves it!

  48. How cool is that?! I'm glad you made the most of the trip despite everything bad that happened. I went to PCB senior year of spring break and would love to go back and experience it as an adult... not during spring break! haha

  49. LOVE that quote! Such a good reminder!

  50. I LOVE this! It feels so good to get away and unplug for awhile... we do this all the time when we head to the cabin and it fels so good to disconnect and focus on where we are.

  51. It's so easy to forget about th reasons for vacation and time with family and let the things of this world get in the way! So glad y'all had such a nice vacation! Love the car too!

  52. What a fun trip!! I love relaxed vacations with a minimal agenda! And the car is fab too!! xox

  53. This is such a great story! My favorite memory was traveling to Cancun with my fiance, but I hope that our honeymoon will be my new favorite story. Exploring Europe with my new husband will be a dream come true!

    x. Sabrina // Simply Sabrina

  54. Sounds like a fun trip! Sometimes it's nice to have a get away from everything.

  55. I grew up going to PCB all the time! That golf place is awesome to visit in the fall and winter when it's closed for the season. About two years ago, we stopped there and took pics with the animals....I have one sitting in that monkeys hand...it's hilarious. So glad you had fun despite a few hiccups!!

  56. Aw! The rainbow! That must have been such a magical moment for you. I'm so happy you have that in your memory bank, and I'm glad your first Father's Day after losing your papa was spent with loved ones. I love the neon tourist tee you got! SO CUTE. And good on you guys for making the most of the lemon moments and just remembering to be happy. Not even a broken elevator can be all that bad when you're with friends and you're on vacation! Love you of the 0 calories comment! :D Oh and 1 tank of gas?!?!?!? That is seriously AMAZING.

  57. What a fun post…looks like you had a great time and enjoy driving the Rav 4! I also love that "calories don't count on vacation"…you are so right! Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

    Brooke | KBStyled

  58. That water is just GORGEOUS!!!!!!


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