How are y'all re-integrating back into society?
Check out my Instagram reel from my first trip!
I took my first trip in over a year to some of my annual destinations. For years, I have traveled with my parents to Biloxi, MS and New Orleans, LA! The last time we'd been was in summer 2019, and wow, so much has changed. In addition to traveling during a pandemic, there is also an obvious labor movement happening across the country!
If you are like me, you go a little overboard with trip prep. Since I had not crossed state lines in over a year, I did not really know what to expect. I packed my regular, too many outfits, for our 6 day trip, but this time I also loaded up on cleaning supplies like lysol, wipes, disposable masks, and even a heavy duty cleaner, shoutout to MicroBan.
In addition to packing clothes and cleaning supplies, this was my first trip traveling while vegan. My mom and I transitioned to a vegan lifestyle about 85 days ago, so we watched a ton of videos on how to best travel and prepare for traveling while vegan. We took a trip to our favorite Dekalb Farmers Market, and stocked up on things like granola, fresh fruits, and some premade bean salads. We packed a cooler with snacks like individually packaged guacs, pickles, homemade pico de gallo, tortilla chips, and more fruit. Aldi also has an awesome selection of fresh fruits, veggies, and other vegan-friendly snacks. We even packed some sweet treats like vegan cookies from Whole Foods and fruit leathers. Yum! I know there is a common misconception that eating healthier options is more expensive, but we have found that we have almost cut our grocery budget in half, with a meat and dairy-free diet. This is even true when eating out, it is cheaper to eat meals with no meat and dairy.
We scouted out the different vegan places in each city, I know it's extra, but this is how my brain functions. Also, highly recommend. One of my favorite places we tried was Makin' Groceries, a Plant-based Cafe. Currently, it is located at 871 B Howard Avenue Biloxi, MS 39530, but they plan on making a move soon, so follow their Instagram if you are in the area. 10/10. My mom and I visited on #TacoTuesday and we were so shocked at just how flavorful and filling our meal was. We both got black bean tostadas, topped with fresh corn, an avocado cream sauce, and bean sprouts (my new favorite)! We also tried the jackfruit taco, which gave all the pork taco feels with none of the inflammation. 😉
The stay at the Beau Rivage, Biloxi was different, but nice. I was glad to see things like hand washing stations, but could only scoff at signs that said masks were not mandated on their property. However, other neighboring hotels did mandate that masks be worn on their premises. Another thing, were the NOW HIRING signs, everywhere. I had been following along with labor strikes and some public union meetings for a while and so to be out and see it happening in real time was both empowering and infuriating. I won't go on a long rant here about how the people deserve better.
While on this trip, I was also working full-time at my internship with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Something I learned while working on campaigns was how to find business centers/working areas. I was able to use the cafe area to do my work, and it was located right across from one of my favorite coffee shops in the hotel,The Roasted Bean. Every morning, I would lug my Telfar bag stuffed with my notes, pens, laptop, wipes and head on down to my socially distanced cafe space. It felt so normal to work in a cafe again and I was able to get so much work done, while drinking my coffee and people watching.
Just a walk next door, was the Hard Rock Cafe, Biloxi. While we did not stay there this time, we walked over to enjoy their casino + drinks, and they even offered a vegan pizza option, which I tried on the first night. A for effort and options.
One day, I spent my lunch break at the beach! It was so peaceful, and something about feeling the sand between my toes, the sun on my skin, and the sounds of the waves crashing made me feel so at peace. ✨ I also got a chance to dive into By Any Greens Necessary, which I learned about from watching The Invisible Vegan which was an awesome documentary that showed and highlighted Black vegans on their journey to healthier lives.
We headed to our next location, New Orleans, Louisiana. New Orleans has always been one of my favorite places to spend time in. We stayed at Harrah's, which is located right in the mix of everything. Literally everything is within walking/riding distance.
We had an awesome room, which I doused in lysol and MicroBan. We also had a great view of the city. Still, I was working, so I was able to locate the business center 😉, which was a great space for me to complete my work assignments, attend online calls, and get some work done. The business center was situated right over the hotel's breezeway and it was awesome to people watch and hear some jazz as I worked. #LivingMyBestLife
On our first night, we consulted our vegan food list, and walked a few blocks to Carmo. 10/10, So damn good. 👏🏾What made this place so special is the fact that not only did it offer vegan options, but also raw vegan options! They also offer meals with meat, so there are options. My mom and I split a red beans and rice and a veggie curry, and wow. So full of flavor and filling! Of course, throughout the week, in the evenings, we walked down Bourbon, hit up the French Market, and had Cafe Du Monde! Was it really a trip to NOLA if you didn't have beignets?!
We took a day trip to Baton Rouge, about an hour and a half away, to apartment hunt. Life update: I am moving to finally attend law school... in person! Like all things in my life, there was a miracle that happened. With less than 4 hours to find a place, I was able to find a new place to live, in a new city, and it has everything that I need! #GodWethankYou *in my Tabitha Brown voice* Talk about a stressful day trip, but in the end it all worked out exactly how it needed to!
After a few days in the Big Easy, we closed out our vacation. While it felt so weird to be out and about (safely) after all this time, it also reminded me that we can really create the lives we want. A year ago, I wrote that I wanted to be able to work from anywhere while doing the things I love, and that has very much been my reality, even in the midst of a global pandemic and major life transitions.
How are y'all adjusting?