I feel like most people write vacation recap posts literally the day after they return because they’re SO excited to share everything, but I’m slow. My brain needs time to process. Also, I honestly just didn’t know if I should bother posting it or not. Will anyone even read it? Like I talked about in my blog a few weeks ago, it seems like people don’t really pay attention to diary-style posts anymore. Then I realized – I truly do not care. I love both reading and writing these kinds of posts, so I’M GOING TO POST THEM. Now that we’ve established that, let’s get to it.
Last weekend I went to San Diego to visit my friend Kayleigh, and I have been looking forward to this for months. San Diego is only about a 2 hour drive from L.A., so I know it might not seem like a big, exciting vacation to most people. But it was all I wanted and craved. I needed to get out of my space, spend time with one of my best friends, and truly relax.
This brings me to something I thought about a lot both during and after my trip – the evolution of what my ideal vacation looks like.
I used to feel like vacations had to be a big deal. When I thought of a “vacation,” I thought of a trip somewhere new, exciting, and far away, doing something photo-worthy that generally required a lot of planning. For example, making a big trip to Hawaii and staying at a fancy resort with exotic activities planned out each day, like snorkeling and swimming with dolphins. Or traveling across the country to visit famous tourist spots and explore museums and buildings and shops every second of each day. Going somewhere new, staying busy, and doing things that were out of the ordinary.
Now, all I want out of a vacation is to relax and genuinely enjoy myself. That’s a vacation to me. It doesn’t take much, and I like it that way. It might mean going somewhere I’ve already been a million times, and doing the same things I like to do even when I’m not on vacation. The difference is my mental and emotional state.
My measure of a good vacation isn’t how much money I spent on it, how many photos I got out of it, how many things I did, or how busy I was. The measure of a good vacation, to me, is how happy I am, and how much my brain can truly just…rest. My brain is constantly going, going, going, so anytime it actually stops, and I can fully be in the present moment, is a win for me.
Aaaand that’s why I was so excited for this San Diego trip. I knew I’d be able to totally turn off my brain and just spend time around positive energy. I love San Diego for a lot of reasons. We used to vacation there all the time growing up, so I have a ton of memories there. My dad and sister went to college there, and I spent a lot of high school visiting my sister while she lived there. Besides the nostalgia, San Diego has some of my favorite restaurants, and overall I just love the vibes. To me, San Diego is like a relaxed L.A. People there are really friendly and down-to-earth, and it’s just… calm. I’ve always been able to relax in San Diego.
More than that, though, I really just wanted to have some girl time with Kayleigh. Most of my friends live far away from me, so I truly cherish the times when we get to physically be with each other. If you haven’t already noticed, my friends are like family to me. Kayleigh is such a light of positivity, and we have so much in common that it’s just easy. No thought required. We met over a year ago, and she was the first blogger I ever met up with IRL. We spent hours talking about everything, realized we are creepily similar, and stayed close ever since!
It’s crazy how different a vacation can be depending on who you’re with. I used to think I hated traveling, but I eventually realized that my bad travel experiences were usually just a result of who I was with. This weekend getaway was 100% stress-free. I didn’t have to worry about food, what to pack, where I would sleep, if someone was going to get mad at me for putting on makeup in the morning or wanting to work out, or anything else. These are all things that happen when I’m traveling with family or friends who I’m not that similar to, unfortunately, and it can be very stressful. This time, though, I just threw everything in my bag and didn’t really worry about it. I didn’t have to pack olive oil or apple cider vinegar or bring my own food. I wasn’t worried about if I would be able to do things I actually wanted to do. I just had to get there!
That’s the difference when you travel to see, or travel with, someone you really vibe with. I used to always feel like a burden when I traveled, but now I know that was just because of my company. If someone makes you feel like an inconvenience, don’t travel with them. It’s easy with Kayleigh, because we are so similar. Instead of feeling like an outsider like I do on family trips, I was relaxed and genuinely enjoying myself. That’s the nice part about growing up and being an adult – you can finally make your own choices about who you’re with and what you do. It makes me appreciate vacations a lot more now.
And that brings me back to the idea of what a “good” vacation really is. When I told people how pumped I was for San Diego, I got a lot of weird looks. “Are you doing something exciting? I mean, it’s just San Diego.” Unimpressed. Well, GUESS WHAT? I’m not going to San Diego to impress you! I’m going there because I know it’s exactly what I need to do to feel happy and relaxed and free. I don’t have to do anything fancy to feel that way. I just need to get a change of scenery, to be around someone I love, to have some self-care time, and to not work.
That’s just what I got!
The weekend was honestly perfect, and it went by way too quickly – as most vacations do. My drive down was longer than expected (thanks L.A. traffic), but it all worked out. When I arrived at Kayleigh’s, she had the cutest “Welcome Christina!” sign up. There was also a bottle of ClearStem, the face serum she’s about to launch, and the most adorable necklace from the Giving Keys waiting for me! How sweet is she?! The type of friend who randomly gets you a gift just because she’s a nice person is a keeper. I dropped off my things and gave her some Paleo Bread from Erewhon and Coconut Cult as a thank you for hosting me — classic L.A. goodies. After that, we headed off for a late lunch.
Whenever I travel, the main thing I get excited for is the food. Sorry, I’m a foodie! Like I mentioned, San Diego has some of my favorite restaurants. I was also really excited to be with Kayleigh that weekend because I was going to start a new gut protocol that Monday, so it was my last weekend to eat (more or less) whatever I wanted before my elimination diet began. It’s a lot more fun to whoop it up (Vicki Gunvalson reference, please tell me you get it!) with someone else, especially since I’m usually alone when I’m here in L.A. I wanted to eat at some of my fave SD restaurants before going restaurant-free for another three months, and I wanted to do it with a friend!
There were really only two places on my priority list, and the first was Peace Pies. Peace Pies is a hole-in-the-wall raw vegan restaurant in Ocean Beach, and I’m obsessed with it. It’s really divey and small. The tables and chairs are mismatched and random, the napkins are a roll of paper towels, the utensils are in plastic cups…you get the idea. The food is phenomenal, though. They have the most incredible raw desserts, although I couldn’t get any this time since I’m currently on the Candida diet. I can still appreciate a good raw dessert from afar. My favorite dessert there is the cookie sandwich, which has an incredibly delicious filling inside two soft, chewy cookies. They serve a bunch of raw cheesecakes, pies (love the apple pie), bars (the chocolate almond butter bar is amazing), and smoothies (the Horchata shake is my fave).
Their regular menu, though, is just as good. They have a lot of wraps made in their house-made coconut wraps, which is exciting for someone who eats paleo and doesn’t usually get to order wraps or sandwich-y things. Kayleigh and I were geeking out over all of the food, and both of us were conflicted over what to order. It was so nice being there with someone else who appreciated the food. Every other time I’ve been there, the people I was with complained that it was weird. Ugh.
Anyways, we decided that we were going to order some things to-go to for dinner that night, and that we would also have to come back again – just to make the meal-decision process a bit easier. I got the Loving Lasagna, which is zucchini lasagna with cashew ricotta and hemp seed pesto, and I also got a side of sour cream and onion kale chips. I’ve had the lasagna before, and it’s to die for. It was my first time trying these kale chips, though, and they tasted like crack. I have no idea how they did it, but they truly tasted like sour cream and onion chips. Their special for the day was a “Chicken Bacon Ranch” wrap, which I ordered for dinner that night. The “chicken” was almond-crusted cauliflower, the bacon was coconut bacon, and the wrap was an onion dill coconut wrap.
Kayleigh got the Luna Tuna Wrap for lunch, which has a sunflower seed “tuna” pate with honey mustard dressing, and she got the Mushroom Stroganoff for dinner – kelp noodles in a cashew alfredo sauce. We also left with a chocolate almond butter bar and two different versions of sauerkraut because… duh.
That night, we went to a park by Kayleigh’s house to have a picnic with a bunch of her friends. Kayleigh’s husband, Matt, set up one of those tent/cover things (what are they even called?), blankets, speakers, and a grill. Their friends came and joined throughout the night, and we all just hung out while watching the sun go down, chatting, and enjoying food and drinks. Kayleigh and Matt are blessed to have extremely nice, welcoming friends. As much as I love L.A., the people here definitely have attitude. Sorry, but they do. It’s not the type of place where you just walk around and make friends. In San Diego, on the other hand, people are very friendly.
Hanging out with Kayleigh, Matt, and their friends, and being in a park surrounded by families and kids and normal life was really really REALLY nice. It reminded me of what “regular life” is like. I forget that this L.A., entrepreneurial, health and wellness-focused, single-22-year-old life I lead is honestly a completely different world than how so many other people around me are living. Having a picnic in the park brought me down to earth for a second. That’s why it’s so important to cherish and cultivate relationships with family and friends. Being around other people is what life is about.
Kayleigh and I snuck off for a walk around the neighborhood to have some girl talk, and then we came back and ate our Peace Pies takeout as everyone else slowly left one by one. Eventually it was just me, Kayleigh, and Matt, and we hung out and talked until Matt eventually wanted to get froyo. Matt and Kayleigh are the best people to third-wheel with, BTW.
There is one place in San Diego I have horrible memories associated with – Yogurt on the Rocks. It’s the froyo place I went to three years ago that made me so sick and triggered my week-long illness that launched me into three years of fighting constant digestive issues. I’m pretty sure that yogurt was infested with insanely potent bacteria that almost killed me. We now know that 95% of it is not gluten-free.
Anyways, the funny part is that Kayleigh and Matt live right down the street from Yogurt on the Rocks, and that’s Matt’s favorite place to get froyo. OF COURSE. We went, and I was cracking up because they have pretty much the exact same flavors now as they did years ago. Oh, the memories.
That night, Kayleigh and I stayed up really late talking, so we both woke up the next morning feeling like we needed caffeine. I never stay up that late, but it was worth it for girl talk. Another reason why I was so excited to visit Kayleigh is because I desperately wanted her to cook for me. There are not many people I will let cook for me, because I honestly don’t usually like the food other people cook. Kayleigh is an amazing cook, though, and she basically eats the exact same food as me. I really wanted her to make me some of the delicious meals I always spy on her Instagram and drool over – “Kayleigh meals,” as I call them.
That morning, Kayleigh cooked us some of her delicious, infamous egg bowls – lots of veggies, some of the sauerkraut from Peace Pies, bacon, and perfectly cooked eggs. Then we set off for our wellness-y adventure! We drove to Encinitas to the spa, and we both had massages with cupping sessions. It was our first time trying cupping, and I loved it! It really just feels like someone putting suction cups on your back. It doesn’t hurt – just feels like pressure. I get massages pretty regularly, so I was amazed at how much of a difference I could feel in my massage after the cupping. It completely removed the tension in my back, which allowed for a much deeper massage.
We left the massages and cupping sessions totally blissed out and wanting to go back ASAP. We were bummed we didn’t have any cupping marks, which we secretly wanted for a photo. #Basic. Oh well. We then spent the rest of the day walking around, going into shops, chatting, and exploring. We found ourselves in an adorable little spice shop where the manager gave us a tutorial on how to cook curry, which coincidentally we were planning on having that night. We were cracking up because the woman obviously thought we had never cooked in our lives. If only she knew.
We went to Goodonya for lattes (truly needed caffeine) and lunch. I was really excited because I had never been to Goodonya before! Their food is organic, gluten-free, and mostly paleo. The menu is INSANE. We both got golden chai lattes, which were golden lattes mixed with chai – I highly recommend. Killer combo. For lunch, we ordered really fresh salads, and I got a side of cashew herb spread that I was embarrassingly excited about. I’m not sure why that spread sounded so good, but it did. We also both picked up some Nuttzo nut butters they sold there, and Kayleigh grabbed an UNREAL chocolate brownie with a layer of PB for dessert that night. Gluten-free, of course.
If you can’t already tell, I was basically trying to load up on all of the foods that I won’t be able to eat over the next few months. I was trying to get in as much lettuce, zucchini, turkey, olive oil, and lemon as I could. Probably a bad tactic in the long run, but YOLO.
We picked up some groceries for dinner, walked around, and fit in a quick workout that afternoon. There was a frat boy in the gym blasting Beyonce and making really gross noises as he worked out. We were both incredibly annoyed.
Anyways, that night Kayleigh cooked us the most delicious curry. I’ve never had curry before, but I’ve always wanted to try it. At restaurants it usually contains ingredients I’m intolerant to and sometimes it’s really spicy, which I can’t handle. Kayleigh is a doll, though, and made it JUST to my liking. It was honestly one of the best meals I’ve ever had. She turned me into a curry fan. The three of us downed our dinners and watched Daddy’s Home on their insanely comfy couch (I have to mention how great this couch is), and then we finished off the night with some dessert. Brownie topped with CoYo for Kayleigh and Matt, CoYo with nut butter and cacao nibs for me! Once again, Kayleigh and I stayed up way too late talking.
The next morning, Kayleigh fit in a quick workout, I perused the Internet, and then we made her legendary mint chocolate chip smoothie! This was the #1 thing I wanted her to make for me while I was there. She is the mint chip smoothie queen. Her smoothies are always incredibly thick, and I am not exaggerating when I say this tasted exactly like mint chip ice cream. You can find the recipe here. I’m still drooling thinking about it.
After that delicious breakfast, we went to La Jolla to get manicures and pedicures. We shopped a bit, and I spent too much money on nontoxic beauty products. We walked by the water, watched the seals, chatted, and then headed back for lunch. The last thing on the to-do list was heading to the marina in Ocean Beach for a yoga pants party on a yacht. Wait, what?! Kayleigh’s friend is sort of “in charge” of a yacht right now, so she invited her friends to come hang out for a random “yoga pants” party. LOVE. Before we went, we stopped at Peace Pies for one last meal – takeout to bring for dinner. Typical.
An hour later, we found ourselves on an insanely beautiful yacht, and I felt like I was a total imposter. It’s weird being on a boat that’s nicer than most houses. I’m not a boat person, but I’d be down to hang out on that yacht for awhile…
We spent the night relaxing, dipping our feet in the hot tub, having deep talks, and watching the sun go down. I felt so fortunate and lucky, for a million reasons. First of all, how did I end up on this beautiful yacht?! Second of all, how was I so lucky to have such an amazing friend like Kayleigh – someone who truly feels like a sister to me? Third of all, how lucky am I to be able to take random weekend trips like that without a worry in the world? I didn’t think about any work. I was totally present in the moment. I wasn’t worried about what was waiting for me when I came back. I felt truly relaxed. It was the perfect vacation.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m really concerned about my cortisol levels, and I’ve been making a lot of lifestyle changes to address that. Well, doing things like this is one of them. Taking vacations, spending time with friends, doing things I want to do, not working 24/7, and just finding ways to truly relax. Saying yes to what I like, and no to what I don’t like. I feel like a lot of people look at relaxing as a weakness, but I feel the complete opposite. Right now my life goal is truly to chill out as much as possible. Why would you want it any other way? More on that to come.
Overall, it was a great weekend, and obviously I need to go back very soon! I would rather make a quick drive to SD and spend quality time with a close friend than fly to another state and do a bunch of nonstop touristy things. That’s just me. We don’t need much to be happy in this life – we just have to learn to appreciate what really fills us up.