When traveling for business, I have a personal policy to always do or see something new.
Years ago, I worked with a CEO that made a ton of money (in my perspective) and traveled frequently for business. When asking about her trips, though, I soon came to realize that it wasn’t as glamorous as it seemed. In the three cities she’d visited that month, she’d only seen the airport, the inside of cabs, her hotel room, and her meeting location.
What a waste, I thought. I was traveling with her to Washington, D.C. that week and I suggested we stop in at one of the Smithsonian museums before we headed to the airport. We had about half an hour, but could see something- experience something, feel something. We made the quick detour to the Smithsonian ( I don’t even remember which one it was now). Later, on the flight, she thanked me for suggesting we take the time to do it and said she was going to make a point of doing something like that more often.
There are times that I have a not had enough flexibility to do something amazing on each trip. Sometimes it’s a small, simple thing like taking time to check Yelp for a great local restaurant near my meeting, stopping in at an independent bookstore on my way back to the airport or driving through a local park. The experience doesn’t have to be extravagant, but gives me a new perspective on how people live their lives in their city.
Travel and experiences are very important to me and as I’ve grown into more flexibility with my schedule, I’ve built in more experiences. If I had to live in an airport, hotel, cab vacuum without experiencing any thing the city I’m visiting had to offer, that would be a sad existence. Saying “I’ve been to Washington, D.C., LA,” or any other city would be empty because I hadn’t really experienced anything in that city.
I’ve found things to enjoy wherever I’d traveled. Grundy Center, Iowa is nestled in a beautiful countryside, with a wonderful local diner (even if every vegetable is adulterated and fried) and amazing views. I even went for a walk in the cemetery across the street from my hotel and acquainted myself with the previous residents. Titusville, Pennsylvania had a nice restaurant I enjoyed. Nashville, Tennessee has a beautiful city park that I wouldn’t have thought to visit if I hadn’t been on my way through for a conference (and too pressed for time to visit Music Row).
I love to learn and feel like every trip I take has the opportunity to give me new experiences, ideas, or perspectives, which I use in every aspect of my life. Sometimes it takes a little bit of imagination, but it’s always worth it.