When the temperature heats up in New Orleans, my favorite pastime (as you may have guessed by a previous blog) is to hop in my car and drive the three to four hours to Gulf Shores. Depending on what you’re in the mood for, you can play tourist in the gift shops, eat your way through some of the best fried Gulf seafood available, act the naturalist on a public beach or do it all and more. That said, here are five tips for your next visit:

Pack It Up: While the price of eating out varies, the cost of liquor will be more expensive than you’d like. The answer to this? Bring your own. As long as the bottles or cans are unopened, most states allow one to transport up to 6 gallons (though some states allow more) – FYI, this is under 3 cases if you’re a beer drinker.

No Really, Pack It Up: Since you’re driving you don’t need to be worried about baggage limits, so bring everything with you that you could possibly need – sunscreen, hats, changes of clothes (I know I’m a girl, but I truly believe that you should bring more than you expect to wear; who knows, maybe you’ll want to change for dinner), extra shoes for when you get blisters, beach toys (adults can play with beach toys, too), snacks, zipper bags for wet items, extra bathing suits, extra towels, ice ….

Try Something New: Maybe like walking through a giant shark’s mouth into a huge gift shop that, among many other things, offers airbrushing, taffy and great prices on swimsuits. Or maybe like playing three different rounds of pirate-themed putt-putt. Or learning to body surf.

Take It Easy: Even if you’re a micro-manager, this is one time to throw your schedule out the window. It might take awhile for you to unplug and unwind (my ER doc Dad needs at least a week to truly relax), but keep trying. You might have to work at relaxing – an odd concept, but one that works for me. Concentrate on it – on dropping your shoulders, on taking deep breaths of Gulf air, on listening to the waves on the shore …

Yes, And: There’s a game that theater people play as a way to hone their improvisational skills called “Yes, And,” which means taking someone else’s statement, agreeing with it and adding to it – never negating it. This is the perfect time to do this, whether you’re in a group or by yourself. Say yes to everything and see where the saltwater breezes carry you, until they carry you back home.