Ah the joy of eating out. You don’t have any dishes to clean, someone preps and cooks your food for you and there are so many options out there. (Insert screeching halt noise) Ok, so I’ve mentioned here and there that I’m vegan and I can make a safe assumption that a lot of people are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free or have diet concerns when it comes to dining somewhere that they have no control over the preparation and ingredients. This can be a big concern when traveling.
My first plan on any trip - whether a day or an extended trip- is to hit up the grocery store. I pack up snacks that work for me (Costco snack size bags of cashews and I are best friends). There are so many options for different dietary needs and I find that I don’t need to go to the natural foods store to find lots of good vegan snacks, although it’s always helpful. I mean, there are two kinds of vegan gummy candy at Sprouts! You can find shelf stable food and drink, or bring a cooler for the refrigerated items.
Now on to the planning. I don’t know that I’ve ever had an issue finding vegan food on any trip. Even Burger King has an Impossible Whopper. Is it the most unique item for this trip? No, but it is a welcome change from years ago when I wasn’t vegan and knew friends that were and how much they would struggle on their vacations. That being said, I still try to get a feel for what the location offers. Are there restaurants that are only vegan? Even Jake enjoys a lot of vegan options so those work fabulously. So many other restaurants have vegan options or dishes that can be vegan with modifications. Like how I get the really weird look at any Italian place when I tell them I don’t want any cheese on my pasta. With the advent of the internet and apps like Yelp! it is so much easier to find places that can accomodate almost any dietary need.
I have to give a special mention to Disney, because I did warn you that there would be a lot of that going on here. Both Disneyland and Walt Disney World designate allergy friendly and plant based menu items on their app. It’s quite literally magical. (This is my story and you can’t stop me from making bad puns). Friends and also Jake will let you know I spend a bit too much time researching and planning how many of the plant based items I can stuff down on any given trip. I end up eating about half the plan. It’s just such a welcome change from my first trip, in a land where burgers and french fries were the standard. Ok, I still go for the Impossible Burger and fries at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe because I absolutely love the atmosphere and music, and sometimes you just need a burger. From what I have seen, Disney is also great at noting allergies or special dietary needs on their app as well.
So if you have a specific dietary need, traveling seems to be so much easier these days. Ok, just like me you probably won’t be able to find something at every single restaurant, and that’s ok. I didn’t eat a ton of fast food before I went vegan, and now I tend to wish more of those places had options for me. But there are lots of great restaurants out there who will be amazing to you, help create meals that make your trip memorable in a good way, not in the way that you remember NOT to visit that place again. We have all been there. It does help to call sometimes and check in, and that will help the kitchen give you more accurate information if you don’t see it posted online. Like when I found out my local pizzeria started carrying vegan pepperoni in addition to the vegan cheese already offered, I only knew from picking up my veggie pizza that night. You don’t have to sit out, just do a little extra planning and find something that works for you!
Until next time, tell me one of the restaurants you love that created that special experience for your dietary needs! (Seriously, I love collecting restaurant ideas!)
I’m going to take a safe bet that you’ve been there too. You know the one, the trip you take to ‘really get away from it all’. Pick a spot, any spot. Picture that vacation in your head. You went on the road, and maybe answered some texts or did that one last email back to work (even though they knew you were off for the week). You kept answering the calls on your cell phone, because now it seems we are available almost everywhere. Then the calls and emails crept into your actual vacation. Here you are, relaxing away from home and answering work emails or checking social media for the tenth time during your relaxing morning coffee.
Somehow this practice doesn’t end. It spirals right into your vacation. I’ve done it too. Most every vacation I am guilty, but it’s something I am actively working on. How often will I check work email because I might miss something even if there’s a holiday, or get back to messages because I feel bad for leaving my friends hanging. I say I’m going to do it once, or maybe even once a day check everything and get it out of my system. Ask me how many times I ended up on social media or calling and texting people all week long.
So how do we set those boundaries on the vacations we use to get away from our routines? How do we really move into the space of getting away and really taking that well-earned break? My first and seems simple enough (to me anyways) tip is to send a work email to whoever might need to contact you. Let work know you are away and even set up an auto-reply email. I’m fortunate to work somewhere that respects time off and really only calls if it’s a true emergency during a vacation. Just like calling in to check as things were shutting down last year as the pandemic hit and letting us know not to report to the building the Monday after break.
How about our friends? I for one hate being left hanging for days on end, but I don’t remember a time that my close friends didn’t return a text within a day or so. I also tend to notice on social media if they are out of town and usually figure it can wait until they return (hey friends reading this - I write these things down a lot because I know my brain won’t remember after a few hours). My friends usually know well in advance about trips because I’m so dang excited about them I can’t stop talking about it anyways. If I failed to mention it, I try to bring it up so that they know I won’t catch all the messages or maybe take extra time to respond.
My final tip to really get away from it all? Go off the grid! Bear with me on this, because being disconnected and not being able to use my phone or all my apps used to be so foreign to me. I wasn’t connected to it all the time, but not being able to use it was, well, weird. Then I started taking some trips with friends up to Mendocino, or going camping with Jake near Payson, Arizona. There is no signal to be had. Sometimes we would travel into town and get a very basic signal but it’s a whole different world. You sleep well because your alerts don’t go off, and no waking up to check apps and emails. You just….relax. Don’t knock it til’ you try it! Bonus tip - take a group of friends and you will have some amazing fun!
Until next time, what was your biggest snafu on a “getting away” trip and how are you going to do that differently?
Vacations, oh how I love them. Now I love them anyway. I used to load so much into a vacation that I would come back more exhausted than when I left. I wouldn’t always take care of things before leaving home so I ended up doing more clean-up and triaging my life and didn’t ever feel like I had any sort of vacation at all. At the worst, I felt like I would have rested and enjoyed more if I just went to work and did my usual daily and weekend routine. I knew it had to change because I love traveling (one of my bold Sagittarian traits). But I didn’t want to keep coming home more miserable than when I left. The whole point of a vacation was to reboot and relax right?
One thing my mom was and is still big on was cleaning the house before she left for a trip. Her key phrase “Nobody likes coming home to a dirty house” stuck with me. So I started there. Whenever I would go away from the house - be it a weekend, or a longer vacation, I started tidying things up a bit. Garbage was out, laundry was as done as it could be (because I know we all have that towel or random shirt that just didn’t make it into the load). The dishes were done and when I felt like being a superhero, I would even clean out my fridge to make sure I didn’t come home to any science experiments and that I had food to eat when I arrived back, especially after a really late flight home.
I really suggest this if you aren’t already working this in. It doesn’t have to be a full-on top to bottom house cleaning. Just something that leaves your space welcoming to come back to. Bonus, there's usually more room to set souvenirs and your suitcase full of dirty laundry. I also live with anxiety, so this process really helped calm me down before I left. I knew everything was taken care of and that there was less possibility of unwelcome surprises when I arrived back home. I’ve had the rare occasion of having to deep clean something at midnight on a Sunday before work, exhausted from a long flight and I like to minimize the probability of that happening. As I type I’m planning on clearing out the produce drawers tomorrow before my trip to Florida next week.
Intention to me isn’t just about the trip itself. It’s about the whole process of a vacation. The planning, the preparation and also allowing yourself the time to really enjoy the memories of the vacation once you return. As much as I love traveling, coming back to my home is just as special. It was a lot more lovely and relaxing once I stopped using vacations as a reason to just get out of the house and treating my home, whether it was my small apartment or my new house, as a place just as special and magical as the Disney parks I love so dearly.
Until next time, how do you create a space to welcome you back after being away?