Vacation Planning During a Pandemic

It’s been a little shy of two years since we had a real vacation; you know, something longer than a weekend.

December 2019.

We visited my family in Rhode Island. It was miserably cold out for me, but lovely to see my family.

This year, we had a mini vacation to the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain. As part of the weekend trip, we went to feed some ostriches (don’t recommend holding onto the food for these guys), sheep, goats, rabbits, ducks, and rainbow lorikeets at Rooster Cogburn’s Ostrich Ranch before heading further south to the hotel, barely north of Tucson., We were also slated to venture out to Maui, but the governor of Hawaii essentially begged people not to go. I get it. With the pandemic, the hospitals are getting overwhelmed and from a parent’s perspective, our daughter’s unvaccinated status made things more stressful the closer we got to this event coming up. We recouped most of our money though when making our cancellations save for the travel insurance–and I’m sure we’ll find a way to use up our flights in the next year. (If the pandemic continues to rage on, who knows what adventures might be open to us then. Visiting the west coast or east coast is fine by me; I just want to be by an ocean again.)

Coming up with our alternative vacation this year meant repurposing last year’s plans. The goal last year was to take our daughter to Disneyland again. Disney shut down shortly before our plans came to fruition as the pandemic wrecked havoc everywhere, so the tickets went on hold. A year passed. California residents were allowed back into Disneyland, with capacity limitations, on April 30th. All us other outsiders had to wait until June 15th and I really did not see us visiting the park this year. I thought with our ticket extension window closing the company would not honor our tickets, but they did. My husband dealt with a customer service internet chat queue being open for something like 26 hours I think he said, but that’s ok. Our only out-of-pocket cost for the tickets is related to our daughter’s age difference.

Planning has been fun, bringing some hope of relaxation that’s been greatly missing in our lives. I am soaking it in as much as we can pre-trip, too. Are we watching episodes of “Behind the Attraction” on Disney+? Yes. Did we (somewhat recently) watch “Jungle Cruise”? Yes. Have I started listening to a few Disney-themed podcasts to get through the work day? Yes. Did we add some new apps to our phones? Yes. Scoured blogs (at least me) for meal planning ideas? Yes.

What I didn’t realize when we started switching our vacation plans for the year was how much of an advantage frequent Disneyland fans have over the rest of us. They just know that things were getting busier with the limited capacity. Nearly all the lunch and dinner reservation spots were taken. We broke down and set up an alert with Mousewatcher.com , but I am not sure we’d be as eager to plop down some extra money in a normal year so we could get alerts about some restaurants of interests to us. If things work out, they work out. Right now, we’ve missed out on three alerts due to other events happening at the same time, but we have some more time on our hands pre-trip to obtain a dining reservation or we can always check in when we get to the park to see where things are at.

An exciting thing for me to learn is Disneyland (and Disney World) have more plant-based options now. Years ago, I would not have changed, but after repeated bouts of digestive issues from lactose intolerance and gall bladder issues, I am probably as happy (at least) as some vegans who go to visit the parks. The company set up a leaf option on their menus to denote what items are strictly plant-based (no animal meat, dairy, eggs, or honey). I don’t expect as many choices at Disneyland as would naturally be available at the larger Disney World, but it’s a start to keep these issues in check.

Last time, we enjoyed some lovely “Lost Treasures” lemon beignets–and my friends, those are not dairy free. Will I likely partake in beignets again. Yes, yes, I will. (I’m bringing a lot of lactase enzyme tablets with me so I can enjoy dairy laden treats and I’ll work to avoid dairy in my entrees to keep things in check.) I have been intentional though about my health in planning this trip. Disneyland has fruit carts so we can pick up mango slices or pineapple spears–or other assorted fruit–that make up for the fact we won’t have our normal weekly grocery shopping choices. The park does allow people to bring in some of their own food, but staying in a hotel limits our food storage capabilities. Eating healthier is not necessarily more expensive than grabbing junk food in the park and either option saves us trips to the grocery store, leaving us more time in the park.

Lemon beignets..these are addicting.

In fact, it is pretty easy to check on prices for comparison pre-visit; it’s not the best price for fruit, but it’s also not the best price for chips. Snack away on your choosing though. The occasional bag of chips is no worse for you than skipping an serving a fruit occasionally is bad for your health either. (I’ll be eating beignets at least one time during the trip, so not judging at all.)

If anyone’s been to Disneyland recently and has some fun tip to make the visit easier, I’m all ears.

p.s. We’re bringing a healthy amount of disposable masks to the park. I’m not onboard with paying more for Disney-inspired masks in (or just outside) of the park due to poor planning. Yours truly needs souvenir money for other things.

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