After "living" (aka being on the road more often than not) in my condo for more than a year and a half in a situation which required me to use a stepstool in order to wash my face, I finally pulled the trigger on a mini renovation! And while it took substantially much longer to get right than I would have liked, in the end it was absolutely worth it and I'm thrilled with the results.Read More
*It’s been kind of sort of trying to get you to leave!**
** After the whole Kimye (did I just say that?) thing, I’m having an existential crisis about Tay and I’m not ready to talk about it unless that means babbling about it to Nick. ANYWAY.
What a week! I was back in the city that never sleeps for a mini week at #fancyclient, which meant that I had to bring my best work clothes, which meant that I had to do a mini-fast on Sunday (after my weekend of treating my body like a dumpster during the first real weekend of festival season) to fit into my new adorable dress which seems to fluctuate two sizes every time I try it on. It’s the dress okay?! It was. The. Dress.
But I digress.Read More
Foreword: As my lovely friend Steph over at Chaotic Kitchenette recently reminded me, "We have to work on your blog... I like reading it, you just have to actually blog, duh." I left out all of her wise brainstorming so that I don't spoil the surprise! Without further ado... For the first time in 2016, I have two full weeks (!) at home without a single day of travel. I'm sure by the end of it, I'll be antsy. But right now as I'm just over halfway through it, I'm ecstatic. Also a little bit hungover / exhausted from an awesome weekend, but that is neither here nor there.Read More
Tomorrow, I start work with a new client. This client is known as a company who both garners respect and demands getting their way. Think "The Devil Wears Prada," and you're not far off. As such, when said client set up our first meeting at 10am on July 5, my team was obligated to fly out on Independence Day to ensure we arrive on time. Obvious reasons aside, this stinks. Yes, I missed out on rooftop parties and aggressive patriotic summer attire. But worse? After an otherwise phenomenal weekend, I am treated to an unfortunate combination of people who could not care less about the holiday (read: foreign visitors or businesspeople) or people who care a LOT (read: those individuals lying somewhere on the Holiday Drunk-Hungover spectrum). As someone who was, sadly, obligated to keep her disposition in check, this does not make for a fun airport experience. The smells, the slows, the struggs. They're almost too much. I had to get a to-go margarita from Frontera on the way to my gate just to cope. And, okay, mostlyto feel like I didn't completely miss out on America time.
Moral of the story?
Take July 5 off of work, no matter what. Trust me.
There are days like yesterday (Tuesday) which go swimmingly well, better than expected, and you're thrilled. Then there are days like today, where despite your incessant status tracking, weather checking, and warning heeding, your flight is delayed six hours... In fifteen-minute increments. It was weather, so it was nobody's fault, but still. Woof. And you're exhausted and you don't get to see your friend for drinks or your sister for chill time or the gym for a workout and you get a cabbie who manages to be the most terrible combination of painfully slow and terrifyingly reckless for your ride home and you just desperately hope your brain turns off at some point and GOODNIGHT.
Hello from suburban Philadelphia, the most beautiful location in the country. Have a picture of my #plastered (#doubleentendre #exceptthisisonlymysecondglass) face in exchange for listening to me complain about my relative misery.
I have found that no matter what city I'm in, if it's been a crap day, there are always a few things that I've found will make me be less grumpy about it by the time I go to bed. As it so happens, that list can be unequivocally described as #basic. When I'm bumming and when I'm not, I try to accomplish the correct combination of a few things that are typically the Band-Aid to my bullet wound of a day. In no particular order:
- Exercise: As Elle Woods once said, "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don't
quit their jobsshoot their husbands." This means something different to everyone. For me, it's usually sweating my life out with 30-45 minutes of cardio (running or elliptical), followed with weights for whatever body part I'm currently hating on. For you, this might be walking, swimming, rowing, pilates, barre, champion horse-jumping, whatever. When possible, I find a ClassPass workout that appeals to me and go to that. Whatever it is, move after sitting and being someone's bitch all day. It helps, I promise.
- Drink: I can't believe I'm saying this, but don't drink a lot. Have just enough to take the edge off. For me, this is usually 2 glasses of wine; one with dinner, and one that I nurse for the rest of the night. Something about it feels luxurious to me. It's probably an issue, but whatever. But! Don't get toasted. It will backfire and ruin the next day. Trust me... I heard it from a friend.
- Pamper: Whenever possible, I carry a Birchbox sample of a face mask with me in my travel toiletry bag. After a day that was particularly sucky, I wash my face, floss my teeth (just in case my dentist is reading this... spoiler: she's not), and put on some face mask that's supposed to do something good for me. I have yet to notice a physical difference after doing a regular mud mask. But mentally? I have just bathed in some sort of exotic cocktail of antioxidants and anti-agers and anti-free radicals and anti whatever-the-hell-else I destroy myself with every day. It's pretty cheap, and it always makes me feel a bit better. Just try it.
- Distract: Do something to take your mind off of the fact that you're in a hotel and probably overate today and your client hates you. Catch up on a favorite show (hello, Bachelorette and Game of Thrones), go find a new restaurant (Yelp it, ask a local, or drive until you're too hungry to carry on), hit the hotel bar / restaurant and chat with benevolent strangers (note: this is difficult in Philly, as most locals are NOT benevolent). Whatever it is, find something that will let you forget about your day.
- BONUS - Stretch: This is a new one for me. Lately during my aforementioned trash television viewing, I've started to move my laptop to the floor and do some good old fashioned stretching. And as silly as it sounds, it's super refreshing. When I'm on a plane, in the car, in crappy chairs and foreign beds on a regular basis, I tend to get a little creaky and stiff. A nice good stretch will help that, and the added distraction of something on TV will help with the fact that I have little to no patience.
Those are some of the things that work for me, but what are some ways you like to get out of a funk when you're not at home? Leave a message in the comments!
Is when you finish a really long, tough client meeting (which miraculously went much better than you expected) and your phone pops up your check-in reminder for your flight home. Am I right or am I right?!
I don't particularly consider myself a germaphobe, but I still get squeamish every time I get on a plane... which is a LOT. I will do you one small favor and not take you down the rabbit trail of my thoughts which have basically caused me to try and find a way to levitate over my cushion, but if you think about it on your own... yeah. It makes sense. A recent flight home from Orlando had me on a giant bird which really just pushed me to the edge and (lucky you) inspired me to write this post.
Yes, this photo seems relatively innocuous. "Just a couple candy wrappers in the seatback pocket! Calm down, Sarah!" you think. But what I couldn't capture were the Cheetos, empty cups, and candy beneath my seat, and even worse, the wrappers and bacon bits on my seat. I got goosebumps just typing that. I won't get into the fact that the plane sat for two hours between flights and still looked like literal garbage, but its presence leads to a bigger issue. When airlines don't even attempt to clean the things we can see, what do you think happens with the things that we can't see?
That's right. Nothing. The little germies fester and multiply and LIVE on the flying metal carcass we so rely upon.
There is no moral to this story, other than to hand sanitizer (and / or wipes) with you when you travel. That reminds me, mine just ran out.
One of the hardest things for me about being on the road is food. I love food. I love reading about it, I love cooking it, and I love eating it. As with anything, this has its ups and downs. Yes, it can lead to some wonderful experiences and even better memories. But add some health-consciousness (see also: vanity), subtract a kitchen and a regular schedule, and you've got a recipe for mayhem on the road. It should come as no surprise to you, though for some reason it did to me, that learning how to travel constantly and not put on weight is a very challenging task. Pros:
- There's almost always a new, interesting place to find food
- Travel stipends allow you to make sure you are getting decent quality and generally afford you the ability to be mindful of your meals
- Making your way to a restaurant you've Yelp'd can be a great way to explore the area you're in (and find more places to eat later)
- New and exciting meals can be great for getting to know your team better and take a load off (miss you, Thursday Rodney's nights)
- You often don't know exactly what's in your food, if you have any vague idea at all
- You usually eat more in a restaurant than you do at home, via bread to start, side of fries, the insanely delicious-looking dessert special, what have you
- Temptation is everywhere. Ev.Ry.Where. See point above
- If you're with a team, you have to **gasp** compromise. And be a team player. And sometimes that means getting Subway or Outback or Quizno's (the horror!) and you have to just suck it up and deal
As with everything, there's always a - get ready to roll your eyes at me - balance to be struck. And while you can pick up a few general rules of thumb along the way, you'll probably have to rebalance in every new city, and with every new team.
Keep an eye out for upcoming posts about what I've found works, what doesn't, and when I screw something up. And if you have something to add, please do! Clearly I have more than my fair share to learn.
Usually, being on the road does not bother me. Whether a job is long or short, I pride myself on finding ways to enjoy my time there. In cities with friends (hi, DC!) I find time to get dinner or go work out with them. In cities with tons to do, I explore new restaurants at night. In places where there may not be much of interest, I find joy in settling into a routine, and take that opportunity to catch up on gym and sleep time. This project is a combination or all three. I met a great new friend through one of my girls from home (thanks, Jen!), there are enough restaurants in this college town to keep me interested, but I can come "home," work out, and order food when I want to. Things really could be much, much worse - trust me.
That said, when I was packing up on Sunday night, I was overwhelmed with dread and sadness about being on the road. Why can't I just stay home this week and see friends whom I haven't seen in ages? Why can't I cook any of Chrissy Teigen's recipes from the book I just had delivered? Why can't I be in my own bed, with my own gym, with all of my stuff? A decent per diem can only make up for so much, after all.
And so, at 4:15 Monday morning, when I was about to zip up my relatively empty carry on, I decided that the extra space would go to something that would make me happy*:
When I unpacked upon arriving at my hotel last night, I opened my bag and was so happy to have that little bit of comfort with me, childish as it may be. And you know what? I woke up this morning in a fantastic mood. Happy Tuesday, friends!
* and no, it's not the flip flops.
A lot of times, things just don't go my way. But once in a while, they do! As I alluded to in my last post, I arrived at my client site last night after coming from Reno. Today, tomorrow, and Thursday morning are the culmination of 11 days on the road for a combination of business and pleasure. I had to pack a LOT, and out of pride, refused to check a bag.* I was able to bring all of this with me:
- 2 days' worth of business casual
- 2 days' worth of trailer chic (including heavy boots)
- 4 days' worth of snowboarding and apres-ski gear
- 3 days' worth of trailer chic
* Full disclosure, I did check my snowboard bag, as Burton has yet to invent a foldy version. But still, the pants, heavy socks, goggles, mittens, you name it... all into my carry-on. I'm no Jen (she went to Thailand for 10 days with only a purse and looked suhcyoot... more on her later), but for me, this was a major win.
Which brings me to my point: I am a firm believer in avoiding checked luggage by any means necessary. We did it for the first time when I went to Europe with my parents for 10 days. Back then, I panicked. But once we got there, and now that I'm in this line of work, I've never looked back. Traveling with just a carry-on is so much less risky, usually cheaper, and all-around easier! Here's a few things I've found useful in my quest to travel light... now pour yourself a beverage and listen up:
- Invest the time and money in finding a bag you're comfortable with. It doesn't have to cost a lot (I got mine on sale for ~$130 roughly eight years ago and it's still kickin'), but you need to like it. Check out its compartments, its dimensions, and frankly, its appearance. Make sure you have space for toiletries, undergarments, and whatever else you typically travel with.
- List the days you'll be gone and what you'll be doing on those days. For example, when I went to New Orleans with the girls, I knew we'd be doing tons of walking during the day (comfy shoes, comfy pants / dresses) but going to nicer meals at night (nice jeans or a dress). See where you can overlap items; a denim jacket, a maxi dress, etc. and jot those items down so you don't forget them.
- Visualize what will actually fit, and get rid of things that won't. This has helped prevent me from the "sit and zip" I practiced for so, so long to wedge my poor bags shut. I have learned that I simply cannot bring two pairs of wedges on my trips and now wonder why I ever tried.
- Remember Coco and realize that, similar to my point above, you probably don't need everything you've laid out. In fact, I'm almost certain you don't. One less shirt, pair of pants, or face cream will not kill you, and chances are, you weren't going to use it anyway.
- If (IF!) you have space, grab extras of any item that you were on the fence about leaving behind. For me, this is usually an extra bikini or pair of sandals for warm trips, or an extra sweater or scarf for cold trips. We aren't monsters, after all.
Oh, and when all else fails... just hope you have a girl like LAW who can give you a play-by-play packing list when you need it most.
I fly for work. A lot. I have worked with airline clients; I know what is "force majeure" and what is not. I have tried most airlines out there at one point or another, before settling into my current go-to. This is why, on my flight from Reno to Dallas to Birmingham yesterday, I was not okay with all the ways I saw myself, and the customers around me, being taken completely advantage of. Below, the letter I just wrote to their customer service department; I'll keep you posted if I hear back from them (doubtful) and whether they do anything about it (WAY more doubtful)*:
Where to begin? Everything about this flight was terrible. The boarding process was a mess. When the plane was almost completely boarded, the gate attendant came on the plane and forced a passenger to deplane because "the plane was overweight and he booked too late," something which I assumed would have been figured out before the ticket was sold in the first place. Then, additional checked-in passengers were prevented from boarding for the same reason. When we finally backed away from the gate, it was extremely short-lived; we had to pull back into the gate, and NINE additional passengers were made to deplane, again for weight reasons. Then, we sat at the gate for 49 minutes (I had a 55-minute connection which, had the flight status been forthright and honest in the first place, I would have worked to reschedule). I managed to pry open my laptop in the comically cramped seats which are supposed to be suitable for the average American (I'm 5'3" and 120 pounds) and got next to zero work done, because the $17.95 WiFi was all but non-functional; the biggest rip-off I've seen in a while. The pilot did his best to make up speed in the air, but when we finally were allowed off of the painfully hot, smelly, decrepit aircraft, I had to sprint through the Dallas airport with all of my things, which I didn't want to check because of the ridiculous baggage fees. The attendants on my flight did nothing whatsoever to warn the connecting flights that we had been delayed, and at least one-third of the plane was found running to attempt to catch their connections. I was the last person to make my connection to Birmingham and when the door closed behind me, I sat on the flight, drenched in sweat (another non-cooled American flight in their fine hub city of Dallas, where they should certainly know better). Suffice to say, I will not be flying American again as long as I can help it.
* I used all but 99 of my 2,000 allotted characters.
Here goes nothing: my first "official" post on my fancy-schmancy new blog about my life as a consultant. After two years at this job, I find myself thinking "I should write down what I'm learning, what's working, and what's not working" with this lifestyle which is somehow both unpredictable and consistent. The goal is not only for me to keep a record for myself, but inevitably for this space to become collaborative; I'd love to hear from other people like me who are both thriving and struggling with life on the road. So, as I sit at my client site with work at a screeching halt around me, what better time than now?