Last week, for the first time since the pandemic began, I traveled. My best friend lives in Slidell, Louisiana, just outside of New Orleans. I usually visit her a couple of times a year and we always enjoy walking around the city, eating at amazing restaurants, shopping and visiting the many breweries that have popped up. I was originally supposed to take this trip in April, but I moved it to June when I felt it was a little safer to travel. I brought five, yes FIVE, travel sized bottles of sanitizer in my carry on, a travel package of sanitizing wipes (thanks to a co-worker who shared), and five masks. Overkill? Maybe. Safety first? Definitely.
I don’t usually travel to Louisiana in the summer months due to the heat, but as Olaf said, some people are worth melting for. My friend is getting married in November, so this trip was all about fun wedding stuff. We knew it would be different than my normal visits due to COVID-19, but we still managed to have a wonderful time.
Here is an overall look at my experience, and some tips on still having an amazing vacation, with a few small adjustments.
I flew Delta from Hartford/Springfield (BDL) to Atlanta (ATL) to Gulfport (GPT).
BDL was VERY clean. Everyone is required to wear a mask inside the airport. The lines at security were very short and I made it through in about ten minutes. It was not very busy at all when I flew out (8 am) or came home (2:30pm). The food and retail vendors were only open in the food court area. Everything in the bathrooms was touchless, but the water fountains were not.
ATL was clean. They have hand sanitizing stations set up everywhere and signs posted reminding people to social distance. The sit-down restaurants were closed, but most fast food places were open. The bathrooms were all completely touchless, but the water fountains were not. It was very busy, but most people were very good about social distancing and wearing masks.
GPT is a very small airport, so there were not many people in it at all. No one was wearing a mask except me and the people working at the airport. The mask rules are much more relaxed in Louisiana than what I was used to in Connecticut!
Delta was using a hand scanner for boarding passes, so no one touches your phone or pass but you. Plans are loaded from the back rows to the front rows, with the exception of first class, but there are no changes to the procedures for exiting the plane. Everyone got an individually packaged Purell wipe when they boarded. Masks MUST be worn for the entire flight, unless you are eating or drinking. No middle seats were booked to allow for more space between passengers.
All four planes I boarded were about 60% full, or less. There was no beverage service, but they did pass out plastic bags with a water bottle, granola bar, almonds, napkin and single use Purell hand sanitizer. Planes are sanitized in between each flight, and you can smell the cleaner through your mask.
Once I arrived, my friend and I found a few really awesome things to do, that kept us social distanced and still adventuring!
No one gets left out at Disney when it comes to food allergies.
I am personally allergic to peanuts and tree-nuts, these are my go-to restaurants on our trips:
Aly’s Top Restaurants
Be Our Guest restaurant
La Cantina de San Angel
Cinderella’s Royal Table.
Aly’s Favorite 3 Safe Foods
Ice cream is one of my favorite mid-day snacks! It is a great way to cool off and safe to eat!
Disney World has some of the best snacks!
I cannot go to Disney World without getting some of their incredible snacks!
I also always make a stop at Caseys Corner for corn dog nuggets with mac and cheese before I come home!
TIPS AND TRICKS
DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE YOU GO
Most people do not think about doing research for a vacation but this can make you have less anxiety going into your vacation. Disney has all of their menus online. While they do not have the allergy specific menus online, this still helps. You are able to go online look at the restaurants that look interesting to you and see if they have a food that is limiting you or if they seem to have a lot of options available for you.
DO NOT EAT AT PEAK TIMES
This may be an odd one for some people. I found this to be helpful because everything is in stock so you have all the choices and would not have to wait. Also going at non peak hours you can talk to the cast member about what could have your allergy in it. If you go to a quick service they have a book that lists all menu options with the possible food allergies in them. Going at non peak eating times is helpful because then you do not hold up the line trying to look at the book to see if your allergen is in the food you want.
When making your reservations you can indicate that someone in your party has a food allergy. This is fantastic because when you get to the restaurant they will already know and bring you an allergy menu along with the regular menus.
BONUS: Chef’s will come out to your table and talk to you directly about what you can and cannot have in your meal.
KNOW WHERE THE FIRST AIDE STATIONS ARE
You never want to have to use an Epipen but it is always important to know where they are in case you need it. Disney World now has Epipens and Epipen Jrs at all first aide stations, in case you do not have your own on you. It is great for you and your party to always know where the closest first aide station is.
BRING IN YOUR OWN SNACKS
Yep you read that correct! Disney World allows you to bring in your own snacks! If you do not want to risk cross contamination or misreading menus, you can bring in your safe food.
5th Night Free
Beaches & Cream
Castaway Cay Cabana
Disney Cruise Discount
Disney World Fall
Grand Californian Resort
Mickey And The Magical Map
Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
On Board Credit