I travelled to our nation’s capital last week for a work conference. Mistakes were made, here’s a recap:
1. I did not have the proper luggage.
Right before this trip, I got a new Macbook for work. I assumed it would be light and airy they way they always feel when I ‘test them out’ at the Apple store in Westfarms mall. In reality they are… not that light. It’s a 17-inch Macbook–which is amazing for my work–but not great or traveling unless you have the proper luggage.
Unfortunately for my neck, back and shoulders, I got this laptop so close to my trip that I didn’t have time to do the kind of extensive research on laptop bags I would normally do, so I grabbed my Dad’s old Brookstone leather laptop ‘traveler’ circa 1990. It still had the instruction manual for his Startac flip phone in it. It was heavy. So heavy that I actually spent my entire time in D.C. walking with my head to one side because my neck was in so much pain.
2. I walked in the rain, with heels, without the proper luggage.
Because I used to be a city dweller and am experienced in navigating city streets in inappropriate footwear, I decided to walk from my hotel in Woodley Park to the conference, which was 1.5 miles to another hotel. This wouldn’t have been bad except that I was wearing heels, it was raining, I was carrying an umbrella, a small handbag (one good decision I made), and the world’s largest laptop bag.
I took all the pictures in this post on the final day of the conference on my walk when I also had to pull my suitcase. Picture it: rolling suitcase behind me in one hand, hand bag and umbrella in the other, Canon around my neck, frizzy hair. I’m sure I did not look crazy at all.
Pro tip: rain + heels + long walk = cab ride.
3. I dined in a romantic restaurant as a business traveller.
The first night there, after spending 6 hours on Amtrak, followed by a ride on the Metro, and then a confusing walk through my hotel (the hotel is great but as my friend Stacey would say, “they have the worst signage.” I walked around the grounds of the hotel for a good 15 minute trying to find the entrance, followed by 10 minutes inside the hotel trying to locate the front desk), I walked around Woodley Park looking for a restaurant to eat in where I could just eat by myself and read.
Somehow, someway, I ended up sitting down in a romantic french restaurant called Petits Plats, and was surrounded by couples. This is pretty much the business traveler’s worst nightmare. I wanted a loud, crowded place where I could just kind of get absorbed into the atmosphere.
But it wasn’t all bad! Here are some things I did right:
1. I took Amtrak.
Flying, although easier, was big bucks since I was booking so last minute. The Amtrak Northeast regional service line takes forever, but they have wifi, tons of legroom and a cafe car. And, bonus, I was able to walk to the train station in Hartford from my apartment in the West End so I didn’t have to pay for parking.
2. I got to catch up with my fab friend Karyn.
And we went to a bar in Dupont Circle, and after spending a half day traveling by myself and then a full day at a conference making small talk and networking (the worst!), it was wonderful to sit down with a friend and not have to ask, “So… what CRM does your team use? Really? Which tools do you like best?”
3. I visited D.C. in April.
There is no more beautiful place to be in April than Washington, D.C.
I mean, yes, I would have taken a trip to Paris over attending a conference with a bunch of tech nerds in D.C., but even though it was rainy, hot, and humid — the evil trifecta that wreaks havoc on my hair — it was gorgeous. The flowers, amid the gray, stately buildings are just perfection.