Fortunately, I don’t have to travel for work very often. As I have gotten older, I’ve become more and more a creature of habit and routine, and it can be hard for me to break out of my daily schedule. Habit, schedule and routine are important to my large family’s success, and I guard it all pretty jealously. Sometimes I am required to get away due to work demands, or I choose to travel for continuing education opportunities. Recently, I went out-of-town for a few days for an employment law seminar, and I reflected on the good, the bad, and the ugly of solo work travel. I came away with an overwhelmingly positive feeling about my forays away from home. If work obligations take you away from your home and family, I encourage you to look at the bright side of the picture–and I also recommend a few tips to make the solo journey a little less painful.
1. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
I know, it’s so cliché. But it’s true. Being away from my husband and children for a few days allowed me some time and space to think about what I love and appreciate about them. There’s something very intimate about talking to my husband in the evening on the phone in my hotel room after a day away, hearing about what all is going on at home, and mutually saying, “I miss you.” Khalil Gibran wrote, “Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.” My family of six had all come off of a couple of weeks of pretty intense togetherness over the holidays, and having a little space gave me a chance to breathe and to miss them. When I came back from my trip, I was happy to see them, rejuvenated from my adventures, and ready to jump back in.
2. Solo travel can be APPetizing!
Whenever I travel, solo or not, I have a collection of apps that I cannot do without. Aside from my air travel apps (I’ll get to those in a minute), I just love Yelp. I’m an avid Yelper, and when I arrive in a new city, one of the first things I do is run my Yelp app. It locates where I am and tells me all about the best places to go and things to do in my area. It can give me a map to the location I’m headed for, so I feel less vulnerable if I take to the streets solo to walk to a restaurant close by. I have rarely been disappointed by a restaurant that Yelp has led me to–Yelpers are real people, and they are generally brutally honest, so they won’t lead you astray. I also “check in” at the places I go, which I have set to upload to my often-neglected Twitter feed, so my friends and family know where I am and what I’m doing.
Another must-have app for me is TripCase. It stores my flight information and hotel information, so all I have to do is open it up to see where I am on my itinerary. On my recent trip, it even informed that my flight was delayed long before my particular airline notified me of the change. It guides me to the right gate and to the right baggage claim area and has even give me coupons for airport restaurants close to my gate.
Finally, I usually fly Southwest, so I always set an alarm on my iPhone to remind me to check in on my flight 24 hours in advance, which I can quickly do on my handy Southwest Airlines app–an essential step in landing that coveted Group A seat!
3. Old friend, all the stories to tell. – Lyle Lovett
The past several work trips I have taken, I have made an effort to reach out to old friends and meet for drinks or dinner or both. On my recent trip, one of my best friends from law school, Ashley, came and picked me up at my hotel. We went and ate at a wonderful restaurant she had been wanting to try. We traded stories about our careers and our families, and we reminisced about the “good old days” when we were in law school. We hadn’t seen each other in years, but we reconnected instantly. When I travel solo, I can become quite introverted, so it’s nice to make plans to visit old friends and break up the silence a little.
4. Take a look. It’s in a book (or magazine). A reading rainbow!
Here’s where I can tell you about another Apple app I just love. NextIssue for iPad. Gone are the days where I lug around a bunch of magazines for flights and airport waits. All I need is one simple app, and I can flip virtual glossy pages to my heart’s content. I typically upload several magazines that I want to read before I head to the airport from my home WiFi.
I also can’t do with out my Kindle Paperwhite. On my recent trip, I devoured my book club’s January selection. I rarely have the quiet time to read when I’m at home, juggling various work and family commitments. It feels like a luxury to have some downtime to read.
I can’t say that I’m raring to take to the skies and travel for work again just yet, but I don’t think I’ll dread it either.
What about you? Do you have to travel for work? What are your tips for satisfying solo travel?
I bought the apps I mentioned and my Kindle Paperwhite; these are my own opinions.