Work Travel: Day Trip to Little Rock

A couple of folks have asked about my work travels, so I’ve begun sharing some details about these trips when I can. Since none of my trips are the same, I guess it might be interesting to see how a working mom handles traveling for work on a constant basis. 

A trip to Little Rock was on the agenda for Monday of this week. There are two things about this trip that make it complicated:(1) it’s a day trip; and (2) it’s on a Monday. These two factors combined make me want to cry. If you haven’t ever done it before, flying out of IAH on an early Monday morning will surely make you never want to fly again. The airport is almost always a nightmare on Monday mornings and it seems like everyone is in a rush. However, flying out on a Monday morning was the best alternative for me. Flight schedules, meeting demands and a multi-night trip later in the week really precluded me from taking any other kind of trip to Arkansas.

Sunday – Prepare/Plan

When I travel, I try very hard to limit the impact that my travels may have on my family. As such, I also make sure that they have several good meals at the ready (if I am traveling overnight or am returning late in the day) and that any logistics that I can handle are done in advance (packing school bags, organizing and cleaning the house, packing my luggage, organizing my travel bags and documents and prepping things for easy school drop-offs and pick-ups). I devoted about an hour on Sunday to getting these items squared away.

Monday – Travel Day/Meetings 

6:00 AM – Alarm goes off. Time to make the doughnuts…and to get dressed and ready. I also had some time to play with George while John showered and got ready for the day.

7:00 AM – Leave for IAH. Traffic was bad, but not terrible at that hour. My condolences to people that have to make this commute, or a similar one, daily.

7:45 AM – Arrive at IAH. Parking at Terminal B and security were a breeze (I have Pre-Check), leaving me ample time to pick up my bottled water and breakfast. I opted for a green juice from The Fruiteria for my morning fuel. So good. As a side note, I should mention that the Terminal B security check point had 4 lanes open, moving folks through at a very rapid pace. Needless to say, I was pleased.

smoothie

8:30 AM – Board flight to LIT. We were on a United EMB-145 and I was in the exit row’s single seat (it was a 1-2 lay out). The guy across the aisle from me was digging into a large greasy personal pizza and I came very close to vomiting at the smell of it. I love pizza, just not the smell of airport pizza so early in the morning.

8:55 AM – Flight Departs. I spent the flight catching up on some pre-reads for the day’s meetings.

flight

10:10 AM – Flight Arrives. I made my way to the National car rental center in the garage at LIT. Having a car makes it much easier for me to zip around to my meetings. However, the line at the rental center was ridiculous. Since there was no line for elite members, it took me 25 minutes to get a car.

11:00 AM – First quick meeting at the State Capitol.

cap

11:30 AM – Made the short walk over to Cotham’s In The City for a lunch meeting. If you haven’t been there before, Cotham’s is a political institution steps away from the Capitol. While the “Hubcap Burger” is the #1 dish served here, I went with the infamous chicken fried steak. I mean, how can you not?

cothams

12:30 PM – Spent some time returning emails and phone calls and basking in the sun. It was a gorgeous day in Arkansas and I took full advantage of it, albeit briefly.

12:45 PM – Time for another quick meeting.

1:00 PM – Anchor meeting of the trip begins.

2:00 PM – Leave meeting and head to LIT.

2:23 PM – Car rental return and security line (TSA Pre-check) are line and hassle free. I love flying in and out of regional airports. I have plenty of time to get my essential bottle of water and pre-flight snack.

2:45 PM – Board flight. Sitting next to a pilot always makes me feel better. I spent the flight making notes for work and planning out some to-dos for projects. We sat on the runway for a bit in Little Rock due to Traffic Control processing.

4:35 PM – Landed in Houston and sat on the Tarmac while a gate opened up for us.

4:55 PM – Arrived at car in Terminal B parking garage and battled some rush hour traffic. Yuck. 

5:40 PM – Arrived at my sister’s house in Midtown to pick up George. Since John spent the day in Austin after dropping off G at school in the morning, my parents picked G up for me and we met at Julie’s for pick-up. I was so happy to see everyone, especially my G.

6:10 PM – Arrived at home. Finally. John met us at the house and we tore into leftovers for dinner.

Tips: Day trips out-of-state are sometimes the most grueling type of travel for me. Here are a few tips that help me manage it:

  • Flat Shoes – I always wear flat shoes through airports and while walking long distances. While I am a high-heel kind of gal, I keep them stashed in my bag until my meetings. Flat shoes help me move quicker and likely save my feet from aches and pains in the long-run.
  • Extra Clothes – I typically also bring a comfortable change of clothes along. This usually consists of running shoes and Lululemon lounge wear. Sometimes the idea of wearing a suit or nice dress ALL day isn’t the most comfortable situation, and having the option to change clothes gives me some peace.
  • Paper Boarding Passes – I love technology, but I always print my board passes. If my phone fails or battery dies, I never want to be without passes that can expedite my airport and security experience.

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