Sunday, February 21, 2016


Whether I like it or not, I travel for work.  This has been a constant in my life ever since I decided to become an adult and get a "real job". As it so happens, I am currently in the middle of one such trip at this very moment, and for this reason I thought I would impart what I have learned about corporate travel while traversing the western half of this country.

First and foremost, let me get this disclaimer on the record: I hate saying goodbye to my family. I realize (usually right after I walk out the front door) that I miss people, and familiar surroundings.  And I realize that I am also missed by those same people while traveling for work and feel a fair amount of guilt about not being available to help out with my family’s needs. Now that that’s out of the way, let me tell you a little about myself.

My mom's side of the family is second generation Hungarian and I am convinced that through my Hungarian blood line there has to be Gypsy blood somewhere in the mix. This is the only explanation that would account for my wander lust.  I have always loved traveling, moving, and basically experiencing all that world has to offer. In my younger years living out of my backpack and crawling into my sleeping bag every night provided the fix I was looking for. I loved and lived every moment of my adventures ranging from backing packing in the middle of nowhere, hitching hiking, or making my way through South America. Every trip and new experience opened my eyes and helped shape me into the person I am today.

So here is the crux! I am now a father, husband, and working professional with only few weeks of vacation a year. Those titles above seem to run in direct contrast with my transient yearnings, and if you are like me you get it! For those of us who suffer from this condition, there is an itch that needs to be scratched. For this express purpose I would like to share the secret "hack" that I have for turning boring corporate travel into an adventure all its own.

For those of us that travel for work, the typical routine goes something like this: work all day, hit the hotel gym if you’re lucky, grab a quick bite at of bland, national chain restaurant food close by, return a few emails, and go to bed. Rinse and repeat. 

Now there are times when this is all but necessary, but there are also trips when time and situations allow for so much more. Enjoying ones surroundings much like exercising at end of the day tends to be a choice that needs to be made ahead of time. Read that last sentence again.  You need to PLAN to have the adventure, just like you planned to make the trip.  With a little bit of research it is possible to turn an otherwise dull evening into an adventure. So, since I’ve done it a few times, let me impart a few tricks of the trade that have turned my work trips into mini adventures:

1.     Download Yelp: Yelp is the secrete to getting the low-down on where to eat when you hit the road. I picked this trick up from my boss and have subsequently found some amazing food along the way. Try and follow the creed, "if you are somewhere new, try something new." No offence to Chili's but we as a nation can do better! Once you have the inside track on where to eat, you are on your way.  My other insider tip: Ask the waitress what SHE would eat when she eats there on her day off.  Never fails. 

2.     Vary your workout: Being that me and the waffle maker at the hotel breakfast bar have a sordid love affair, I am forced in my F word status to put on the shoes at the end of the day and run. This insures the success of my relationship with my gluten Belgium mistress. Instead of grinding it out on a beat up crappy treadmill, do your research ahead of time and find out where a great trail or scenic run resides during your travels. Reach out to the local running store, you just might find a killer run along with a running group who is already headed out that way. My favorite workout to date was a night run with head lamps above the foothills of Vegas (the picture in this post is from that run). If running is not your thing try a cross fit, yoga, or spin class at a local studio. It’s always good to see how other locations put a spin on your classic workouts.

3.     Experience the outdoors: Since daylight is limited after work hours, this requires being a bit creative. For example, I recently had to go to Boise for work, so I decided to pack my skis. You may ask, "how did you pull off skiing on a work trip?" The answer: night skiing of course! Not only did I head up after work, the three hours of skiing in fresh snow with no crowds was straight-up epic. During the summer months if I drive to a location I will pack my bike or my inflatable paddle board. This gives me something to look forward to at the end of the day as well as experience a new venue and or trail. 

4.     Be a “creative” workaholic: You are already in town for a work trip, so why not find out if any of your customers are into the same things you are! The best way to forge a strong relationship with a prospect, client, and or customer is to get them out of the office. See if they would like to meet up to (fill in the blank) after hours or give you the local tour of their favorite activity. Not only will this make your trip that much more effective, but you will build common ground with your customer as well as possibly find the best fishing hole in the area. 

5.     Plan your trips around special events: I spent a year doing research and site visits for the Army Core of Engineers. I did the majority of these trips with a good friend of mine from San Diego, who just so happened to enjoy the same type of music as myself. That summer as we booked our travel, we also booked concert tickets. It was a ton of fun to see great music in new venues. I am using concerts as an example, but this can apply to anything you would like to go see or do.

6.     Maximize your time: Time is a commodity that, as a working professional and a father, I seem to have very little of. Work trips can afford each of us the opportunity to take advantage of the evening hours that are normally spoken for and use them to get out and do the things that typical work/life schedules do not allow.

7.     Change up the scenery: When you have NO time for adventure (I have been in this situation as well) here is what I recommend. If this happens in the summer months, grab some takeout, activate your Wi-Fi hot spot on your phone, and head out to a nice park and get your work done while you watch the sunset. I assure you this will do more for your soul then staring at the vinyl wall paper at the Hampton Inn.  And yes, it IS legal for men to watch sunsets too.  

8.     Reach out: I am fortunate enough to have friends in all the locations I travel. This has given me the opportunity to do everything from catching up over dinner to jamming with different bands. The point of me saying this is reach out to your network, and if you do not have one be creative and create one. 

9.     Bring your family:  If your family has flexible schedules, there’s nothing more satisfying than having your employer pay for your family vacation.  Of course…be careful on your expense reports and get approvals first if needed, but in my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with your family sharing your room and having a slice of your pizza with you while they explore a new (to them) city while you’re out bringing home the bacon.

10. Nothing, nada, chill time: This last one contradicts everything I have stated above, but with the daily grind and pressures we all experience an evening of nothing can be absolute bliss. Nothing wrong with some take out, catching up on the latest episode of Vikings, and chillaxing.

So, here is the challenge for my road warrior compadres and fellow F'ers: If time allows, turn your next road trip into an experience. Forgo the temptation to hit up Chili’s.  Find your new favorite trail, and most of all enjoy your time in an environment that is not your own. If you have to hit the road, it IS possible to take that otherwise boring grind and turn into an experience.

After all, isn't that what life is all about?  Seeing something for the first time? Experiencing the things you love to do? Expanding one’s horizons?  When it really comes down to it, our time is limited and we can not make more of it. F word nation, let’s drink it all in!

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