Business trips - yay or nay? Personally, I love traveling for work. If you go back and forth to the same place it can feel like a “home away from home” or if you frequently travel to different cities it can be a great opportunity to get a feel for a new place (airline points don't hurt either!)
But traveling for work can also be exhausting. Getting off a plane and going straight to a meeting followed by dinner and drinks late into the night; sleep is usually short and you have little time to yourself to really decompress. Anyone else suddenly feel like a grandma by the time 9pm rolls around?
I work in advertising so while it seems all glitz and glam at times – staying in big cities and going out to eat - when we travel it’s go, go, go, particularly on production. Early morning call times, sometimes shooting late into the night... One of the best parts is Craft Services (the snack table on set), but it’s always tempting to sneak chocolate and chips throughout the day until you wonder if you’ve reached your max recommended calories just by gorging on snacks. This is where I wish the camera would take away 10 pounds rather than add it... So how do you stay healthy, get time to yourself, and make your trip interesting so it’s not all about business?
Here are my Top 10 things I do on business trips to help me relax and have fun so that I look forward to the whole experience instead of just wanting to get out of the office.
Always bring a sleep mask. For me, I can’t do anything without having a proper amount of sleep. When I drink caffeine I get squirrely because I have an abundance of energy… until I don’t. And once my battery runs out, I get quiet and really tired. I can usually sleep anywhere, but in order to get a good night’s rest, particularly with only a few hours, I always bring a sleep mask. Even when it’s light out, it helps trick my brain into thinking it’s dark and I have my own personal retreat. Feeling anxious or need help drifting into dreamland? Try dabbing lavender or your favorite essential oil on the strap – it will bring you comfort and calm your nerves so you can rest easy and take on the day.
Drink water. Another tip to keeping your energy up. Drink lots of water and eat light snacks. On business trips it’s easy to gorge on big meals and drink since you can expense most of it, but staying hydrated and having small meals more often will keep up your energy and prevent that post-lunch slump.
See what concerts are in town. After meetings are done, add some fun to your trip by heading to a concert (bonus points if you score free tickets for you and the client!). Working with media partners or production companies, I can usually get the inside scoop from them, but you can also stalk Ticketmaster or StubHub for good deals and cheap seats – or head to the venue to see about last minute tickets or standing room only if you’re up for a show.
Try a new restaurant. I’m a foodie so I’m always looking for the best places to snag a bite. If you’re traveling in the US, I’m a big fan of websites like Spoon University to get a range of options – plus this one is run by mostly college students so you know it will be good grub and there will be options with local flair. If you can, make a reservation to cut down on wait times so you have more time to enjoy the meal and reduce stress; and have a few recommended menu items ready to share with the group if you’ve never been there – makes you look buttoned up and also a little adventurous in front of your boss!
Check out the hotel gym. Workout facilities may be hit or miss, but it’s important to exercise – if not just to keep up your endorphins (see my post on how to reduce anxiety if this trip is particularly stressful). If the gyms are sub par, the hotel might have yoga mats you can borrow or consider a local Pure Barre or Orange Theory class.
Pamper yourself. If you can afford a late night massage or quick trip to the spa, I'm all for that! Otherwise, opt for the more DIY version. Grab a bottle of wine at a local grocery store and draw yourself a bubble bath. My skin always gets dry on business trips with all the flying, so I always pack face masks to replenish my skin.
Extend your stay. This is often overlooked, but usually companies don't care when you fly out or where you fly out from as long as it's about the same price as if you were traveling on the original itinerary. Consider extending your stay for a weekend getaway or work remotely for a few days so you have more time to explore. A few weeks back I found flights out of Minneapolis to go to Quebec that were a little cheaper than flying home. Went to my meetings and then met my mom for a few days of fun in Canada. And I only had to pay for my one-way flight back!
Find a deal on Groupon. You can usually find last minute deals for any activity on Groupon. My favorite thing about this site is if you're indecisive about what to do, just check out Groupon and pick something that looks interesting and is a good deal. It's a great way to get out of your comfort zone and so something fun. Most recent things I tried: Wine and Painting - it's not sad to drink alone when you're painting with strangers! And Laser Tag - because I still haven't really grown up.
Book an Airbnb or Bed + Breakfast. Tired of the same old hotels? Sure you can rack up points, but if you want to infuse more culture (or sometimes great luxury!) into your stay, consider booking through Airbnb. You can get whole apartments to yourself and often times the rates are much cheaper than a typical hotel you may stay in. If you want a more romantic feel, look for local boutiques or Bed and Breakfasts in the area.
Don't be afraid to bump your flight. My last tip isn't necessarily just a business travel tip, more like a frequent flyer tip. If you're flexible with your plans - don't be afraid to bump your flight. Any time they ask for volunteers when the flight is full, you usually will be rewarded handsomely. Free Delta dollars? Hello next girls trip! New seat on the flight? I'll take first class or business class please! Missed lunch? Thanks for the free sky club membership.
So next time you groan when your boss sends you to a three-day conference packed with meetings, team dinners, and homework prep - remember you can turn a business trip into a mini vacay if you look for the extra added flair. Carry your sunshine through that *yawn* 4-hr board meeting.
My mom is cool. There, I said it. It's in writing and I can't take it back. Nor would I want to! My mom actually might be the coolest of all my friends (sorry friends reading this, but wouldn't you agree Snappy Susie one-ups us all?)
While my middle and high school self might be cringing right now, my mom is one of my best friends. She's my shoulder to cry on, my conscience when I think to do something stupid, and my go-to travel buddy. She's amazing in every way and I would be proud to grow up to be half as great as she is.
My mom and I have a tradition of taking mother-daughter trips in the fall to blow off steam (ok - it's now fall and spring... she's just too much fun!) What I love about traveling with my mother is she is always up for adventure. She's not one to shy away from new experiences, in fact she welcomes them so traveling always comes with great surprises. We prefer to mix our trips with good food, active experiences, cultural immersion, and when we can - a little bit of luxury!
So in honor of Mother's Day this weekend - here's my top 5 list of places to take your mom on your next girls trip, because she deserves it!
1. Palm Beach, FL
The perfect weekend getaway for those seeking sunshine. Fall, winter, spring or summer, Palm Beach is known for blue skies and white sand. I recommend staying on Ocean Blvd (my fav is the Tideline Resort and Spa.) You can bike along the beach, splurge on Worth Ave, or take a drive down to Ft. Lauderdale or Miami for a day trip.
2. Boston, MA
In the Spring, Boston comes alive. The snow melts and the Red Sox are out on the mound. But Boston is at the top of my list for fall getaways too. When the leaves start changing, the sky and ground are painted with red, orange and yellow colors that electrify the streets. The city is walkable so take a stroll through the fall colors on Freedom Trail. Along the way, lust after the Beacon Hill neighborhood and warm up with a tasty pastry and coffee at Tatte Bakery.
For being covered in ice the majority of the year, Iceland sure is a hot destination these days. More to come on the blog for what to do and when to go to Iceland (hint: any time!), but as a mother-daughter trip, it doesn't get much better than this island. It's safe and is packed with adventures. From waterfalls to glaciers to sheer stunning views, you don't want to miss this ethereal place. Rent a car, take pit stops along the way, and finish the trip with a dip in the Blue Lagoon. You'll be booking your next trip back before you even get on the plane!
Culture? Check. Relaxation? Check. Tacos? Check! This is one of my all-time favorite places. This beach town is an upcoming trendy place to visit, so check it out before it gets too busy. About an hour south of Cancun, you'll miss the parties, but you'll enjoy soft sand, cenotes to swim in and if you're lucky a chance to swim with sea turtles. If history is more your thing, check out the Tulum ruins or take a day trip out to Chichen Itza, one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World.
5. New York City, NY
Honestly, this is the ultimate gal pal city. In the city that never sleeps, you're sure to find something for everyone. If you want to "treat yo self" go glam and shop till you drop, enjoy a drink on the rooftop of Ink48 Hotel, and see one of many spectacular shows on Broadway. Or if you're feeling a more low key weekend (is that possible in NYC?) enjoy a morning doing yoga in Central Park, a museum tour at the MoMA and a quiet afternoon at one of the many Brooklyn coffee shops.
My mother and I are always looking for new places to visit. Have a fav place you and your mother go? Share in the comments below. Our fall trip isn't planned yet!
What's your go to drink at a bar? I always love a good glass of wine, but after a few I know I'm probably going to regret it in the morning. So if I know I'm going to be out for a long time I try to stick to beer. Living in Richmond, VA I am no stranger to the brewery scene. However my favorite beer, Vienna Lager, is from Devils Backbone, an off the beaten path brewery 30 minutes outside of my hometown Charlottesville.
This past weekend I was graciously offered the opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Devils Backbone Basecamp facility. A part of their "Thru Hike" campaign to bring the spirit of the Virginian heartland to cities all over the country, I joined a handful of Richmond bloggers and outdoor enthusiasts for great beer in the beautiful setting of the Blue Ridge mountains.
I had been to the brewery before when I was in college, but it had been at least five years. It's at the base of Wintergreen Mountain so it's always been a good pit stop before a day full of skiing or if you're making your rounds drinking, you'll find plenty of breweries and cideries on Route 151. But the Devils Backbone Basecamp location has grown since the last time I had been there. It's now a destination all in itself.
What used to be a small kitchen and brew pub now feels more like adult camp. A full service kitchen that pulls herbs and fresh veggies from gardens onsite, multiple bars both inside and out, corn hole on the patio and trails you can hike for an afternoon make this place every beer enthusiast's dream. They have festivals throughout the year to learn about what food pairs well with their newest concoctions, music festivals on their 100-acre property for local artists to bring cool jams to the amphitheater on site (The Hoopla Music festival is set for September 28-30th!) and soon they will be adding a camp ground area if you want to spend a weekend getaway with family or friends.
But aside from the atmosphere that feels like home away from home, it's the beer that will make you want to stay. Jason Oliver, the Brewmaster at Devils Backbone, is nothing short of a hops genius! An expert in germanic style beers, he has helped develop over 500 different recipes, 16 of which they have on draught at the Basecamp location in Nelson County, VA. Besides my fav, the Vienna Lager, notable brews to try are the Maibock, with notes of honey that feels just right for Spring, and the new tart Cran-Gose that's sure to make your mouth pucker in delight.
They don't tend to give tours at this location because it's a bit small, but it was there in the back brew room that I tried a beer that might rival the Vienna Lager. The Mile 842 - a hybrid between a golden lager and an IPA - is a new beer they just released with a crisp, fruity finish that quenches your thirst without the overpowering aftertaste of hops. It got it's name because Devils Backbone Basecamp is located just off the Appalachian Trail at mile-marker 842. Hiking is near and dear to DB's heart and many AT thru-hikers like to spend an afternoon relaxing on the patio before hopping back on the trail. I can see why, after a long day of hiking I would welcome a 6-pack of Mile 842 to beat the summer heat.
What I love the most about Devils Backbone is what they stand for. Started during the 2008 recession, this brewery truly seeks to unite people - over the campfire, on the trail, or a lazy Sunday afternoon on the porch - DB prides itself on connecting people over good beer. But it's not just their beer they believe in. Devils Backbone believes all beers should be celebrated. Surprisingly beer sales are down across the nation (might have something to do with hops other cousin getting legalized in some states). Right in line with their family values, DB seeks to unify even the beer community with the push to be #BeerPositive, celebrating all beer making, no matter the style, craft or level at which you distribute. Beer is beer and we should be delighted to drink it!
After a full day of tasting we headed back to Richmond. I was notably pumped after my visit because of the sheer energy and passion everyone at Devils Backbone exudes. Thankfully, the fun doesn't end with the Saturday adventure! DB is continuing to share their love of beer throughout this week in the Richmond area May 5-11th. If you want to join in the fun, attend one of the many events below. I hope to see you there!