Friday, January 23, 2015

It's All About Me: Fitting Adventure into Work Travel


Source

Work travel. It happens. For me it often involves high level, strategic meetings in windowless rooms, from which I bolt at the end of the day to find a hotel gym. I want to break this cycle. Why white-knuckle it over the Rattlesnake in winter two hours to an airport, spend all day in flight, and sit in conferences for.. well..just work? I've determined to find some adventure in work travel this spring.

For example: I have to go to Portland in early March. Portland? Blah. But then I think, if we stay downtown, I can run on the waterfront! I love the waterfront! It's flat! There are other runners! No ice! No rocks! I can be swift! I can look at dragon boats!  Yay Portland!

From Portland, I am going to Cedar City, Utah. Cedar City in late March?! Have I died and gone to heaven? I can surely find a daylight hour or two between meetings and go hiking in Zion National Park, can't I? After that, I have a work trip to Flagstaff in late April. Hmm....could I possibly stay the weekend? A Grand Canyon Hermit to Boucher solo backpacking loop sounds perfect! And I'm not even mentioning my February trip to Flagstaff and the GC permit I've snagged then- Bright Angel to Horn Creek to Granite Rapids, two of the best campsites in the whole place.

Of course, none of this is as easy as I make it sound. After all, these trips are for work. That's the main objective, and I can't let my adventures infringe upon that. There is paperwork to do to ensure that staying over a weekend doesn't cost any more than flying back on a Friday. There's making sure that all the bases are covered at home. There's checking with the boss. Still..if  you can make it happen, it is well worth overcoming the inertia. Below some tips that work for me.

1. Strategic packing. I wear my trail runners both for hiking and for my workday exercise. I usually run in a pair of dedicated shoes, but I figure that a week of using my Cascadias for running won't hurt me. That way I don't need to bring backpacking shoes and exercise shoes. Similarly, for my workday outfits I bring the same color scheme so I only need one pair of dress type shoes or boots. I don't take extras on these trips. Yes, a running outfit for every day is nice...but not necessary.

2. Be okay with solo. I've tried to incorporate friends into these trips, but it doesn't really work that well unless they live in the same town I am going to. Often the work travel isn't scheduled until a few weeks prior, and days of meetings can change abruptly. We aren't allowed to even buy plane tickets until three weeks before we go. Most people can't drop everything on a moment's notice. I've stopped trying, and am fine with exploring on my own. 

3. Trip reports are your friends. Before I go to a place, I scour the internet to see what other people have written about the area. As lovely as the federal agency websites may be, they are definitely lacking in real life experiences. If I hadn't found the Big Bend chat forum, for example, I wouldn't know about the water sources and if they are typically reliable in winter. If I hadn't talked to my friend L about the Grand Canyon Tuweep hike, I wouldn't know that the "dangers" are vastly inflated on the park website. Some cities also  have running routes mapped out if you google "running in Portland" or something similar. Shuttles are also your friend! Often you can find shuttles to many trails or locations. That way you aren't stuck renting a car and having it sit for days. If other types of adventures are your thing, there might be groups in that town that do them. One woman I worked with was into roller derby, and she brought her stuff with her, finding other teams to skate with.(Digression: I have spent many an hour on the trail trying to think up a roller derby name. I still haven't come up with one! It should be a play on your name, profession, etc, but sound fearsome.)

4. Go stoveless.  Thinking about backpacking? A backpacking stove and flying just don't work that well. You have to find a canister somewhere, or fuel, and can't bring it back with you even if you have fuel left. I don't bring a stove unless it is going to be really cold. And speaking of food, I typically fly with most of my backpacking food already in my bag. It's just too time consuming and difficult to try to find that stuff at your destination. That way you are ready to go and don't waste time (I also fly with some of the lunch and breakfast items I plan to eat during the work day. I don't do well with huge restaurant meals and grocery stores aren't often located near hotels).

5. Be realistic. I would love to turn a work trip into a multi-day, multi sport adventure. But I often don't have more than a couple of days to spare, and the gear required is too immense. Less can be more. A day hike is fine! A run is fine! What matters is the experience. You aren't in your hotel watching a Say Yes to the Dress Marathon (don't judge. I don't have a TV, I have done this. I kind of love wedding dresses. I know, I am an enigma).

I can't typically take off and go visit these places on my own. It costs too much and takes a lot of time. But with work travel, I can have the best of both worlds. Go work travel! (Alaska? Need any work done? Call me!)

Do you travel for work? What adventures do you find? And what would your roller derby name be?


18 comments:

  1. Used to travel for work and got to visit some interesting places--all cities, but I like them. Can't wait to see what turns up as roller derby names!

    ReplyDelete
  2. How awesome that you're folding in adventures with your work travel! That's what I would do too, if I ever got to travel for work (a job with a local government agency means none of this). Great tips!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's very sporadic! Some years there is none. Last year the only place I went was Winnemucca. So you just never know!

      Delete
    2. Try the Pine Forest Range north of Winnemucca- Evelyn

      Delete
    3. Oh sounds intriguing. I'm sure I drove right by.

      Delete
  3. When I was with the FWS work trips involved the scene of the latest big wildfire... so usually adventure enough. Although I did score a four week Puerto Rico detail for which I took my R&R on the island - can't complain! Now if I could convince my husband to take me with on his work trips...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Puerto Rico! Hmm, there IS a national forest there that must need me!

      Delete
  4. If you're in Portland and do have any time to get out of town (or want to wander in town), drop me a line. Maybe I can help.

    And Forest Park is a trail runners dream apparently. :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sure thing! And I have run in Forest Park! It's amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Names:

    Fire eater
    Smoke eater
    Ember-Girl

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha! Fire Eater is probably the one I would pick of those three.

      Delete
  7. I'll be honest, I find in puzzling in the Internet age the companies and government agencies still expense hundreds and even thousands of dollars for individuals to attend meetings. But maybe I'm just jealous because I've only worked for newspapers and magazines, where it's difficult to squeeze out gas money for on-location stories they assign you to cover. :P

    ReplyDelete
  8. We do a lot of VTC but to be honest it sux when you have to look at maps, draw lines on them, or have more than just a few people trying to collaborate on a project. I'd say 90% of our meetings are virtual. I spend most of my day with a phone on my face or on camera. Which means I actually have to get dressed and brush my hair.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I"m jealous of the Cedar City trip. AND the Portland trip. I get to head to KTN in March for my spring travel... whoop whoop!

    I deliberate every time I travel about bringing food. I know it will be cheaper wherever I am heading, and signficantly so, but like you said, actually finding a place to buy it can be a pain.

    ReplyDelete

Hello out there. If you liked this post, please leave a comment so I keep writing!