I’ve continued to get requests for details and tips about work travel, so I’ve begun sharing some details about these trips when I can.
A trip to Juneau, Alaska, was on the agenda this week. The trip was a two-night stay and I was excited to participate in a fun and enriching professional experience. However, I was sad to be celebrating my first trip to Alaska without John and George.
Monday – Prepare/Plan
When I travel, I try very hard to limit the impact that my travels may have on my family. Because our kitchen is functioning now, I was able to cook a meal option for my guys (sausage gumbo) before I left. I also did some loads of laundry, organized and cleaned the house, and made a run to Whole Foods for additional dinner options and other groceries. I also created a few fruit and snack packs for George – these are essential for school pick ups and dinners and are very helpful to John.
Tuesday – Travel/Meetings
I set my alarm for 6:00am, but was awake at 5:30am for fear of “missing” my alarm. Don’t you hate when this happens? I got dressed and packed for the trip, then plated breakfast for G and laid out his clothes for school. George was up a few minutes later, so we played and he ate breakfast while John got ready for work. I left the house at 7:30am and made my way to IAH. George was a little fussy when I left (he’s not used to me leaving in the morning), but he was easily distracted by spotting birds and cats in the backyard with John.
After a quick fueling stop, I arrived at IAH at 8:15am for my first leg of the trip. Parking at Terminal C and Pre-Check security took no time at all. The airport was light on traffic, so I had an easy time picking up snacks and had some time to rest in the United Club before boarding.
We boarded without issue and had an on-time departure for our 4 hour and 28 minute flight to Seattle. Shortly after takeoff, meal service started in the first class cabin (I upgraded myself to first class using a status upgrade). I had sparkling water and warm nuts, then had the chicken and rice entree for lunch. Well, it was offered to me as chicken and rice, but it was actually beef and rice. Gotta love, United. Truthfully, this meal was horrible.
I only ate the salad as the bread was off-limits (Lent!) and the rest of the meal was unidentifiable. I’m sure it was beef, but I couldn’t shake the possibility that it could be squirrel or cat or dog. Just kidding. But, in my defense, it did look mighty gamey. Blerg. And did I mention that I didn’t eat breakfast that morning? I kept my hunger at bay by guzzling lots and lots of sparkling water with lime and eating my snacks and an extra ramekin of warm nuts.
I worked on my laptop the entire flight, and thanks to the absence of on-board power ports, I completely drained by battery. Double Blerg.
After a very choppy decent, we landed at the Seattle-Tacoma airport a few minutes earlier than anticipated. I made my way to the D gates (I took the airport train to get there) and picked up a few extra snacks since I hadn’t had a full meal that day and I wasn’t sure what to expect on my next leg.
After a while, I boarded my Alaska Airlines flight to Juneau easily and I was excited to be in first class (United booked me in first when I used status upgrades to book/upgrade my other legs). This was my first experience with Alaska Airlines and it was great. The only downside of the experience was that we made two stops on the way to Juneau.
Our first leg to Juneau was 1.5 hours and it was a very pleasant experience. They served a little snack on board and I put the turkey and cheese from my sandwich on my salad. It was delicious. Or maybe I was just hungry?
I passed the time by watching two episodes of Homeland. We landed in Ketchikan, Alaska, and it was gorgeous. Lush green landscape, snow-capped mountains, blue water…everything right out of National Geographic.
Thanks to technology, I got to text with John and get an update on my family – all was well – while we sat on the ground there.
Our second leg to Juneau was a quick 35 minutes and led us to Sitka, Alaska. I watched part of an episode of Homeland on the flight, but was yet again mesmerized by the scenery. It was gorgeous.
The last leg of the journey was to Juneau and it was a very quick 23 minute flight. We had an amazing sunset – the richest colors I have ever seen. I don’t have a picture because my seat mate (and his beard) were sleeping against the window the entire flight. Oh, well. Once we landed I rented a car and drove four minutes to my hotel – Grandma’s Feather Bed.
My room was charming and very welcoming. The room, and hotel, were very Laura-Ashley-esque, but hey — this was a country inn!
After quickly getting settled in, I met my colleagues in the hotel restaurant for dinner and a quick strategy meeting. I was exhausted and practically collapsed into bed when I got back to my room.
Wednesday – Meetings
I woke up at 3:00am and couldn’t go back to sleep. Thanks to the three-hour time change, my body was completely out of sync. I worked from my warm bed before deciding to see if one of my colleagues was awake. I ended up having a fellow sleepless colleague, so we decided to get dressed and to go for a hike at nearby Mendenhall Glacier.
We had a nice, long hike and enjoyed watching the sun rise over the mountains. It was truly breathtaking.
I spent the rest of the day (8:30am to 5:00pm) at the State Capitol attending meetings. This may not seem like a big deal, but these types of meetings can be mentally taxing. Well, at least for me – these are high-intensity, high-risk, very technical conversations. My colleagues and I ended up hosting a somewhat impromptu happy hour and dinner for some elected officials at a near-to-the-Capitol venue. The restaurant we selected was phenomenal and I had the best salmon I’ve ever had. The only downside was that I didn’t get back to my room until 9:30pm and didn’t crawl into bed until 10:00pm. #exhausted
Thursday – Travel Day
I had another 3:00am wake-up, but this time it was intentional. I quickly got dressed, packed and made my way to the Juneau airport. Security and check-in were a breeze and we boarded easily and early. The only hiccup was when a young woman on our flight began having an anxiety attack when we began taxiing to the runway. We had to return to the gate to allow her to get off. Poor girl – anxiety is a very real issue and I think we’ve almost all been in a situation where fear and anxiety take hold in an uncontrollable way. I really felt for her and hope she made it home okay.
We were served a small breakfast on board, and I spent the 2.5 hour flight answering emails and listening to episodes of Serial. Customer service was fantastic and I am pleased with my experience with Alaska Air.
I had layover when I arrived in Seattle and I spent the time in the United Club working and making calls.
Time always flies when it’s time to work, doesn’t it? After a while, I boarded my flight to Houston. Surprisingly, the flight was only half full – a rare occurrence these days. We were served another horrible meal – unidentifiable meat with weird root vegetables.
Friends, this is why I always pick up contingency snacks. And this is why people complain about airline food. I usually have good experiences with United, but this trip was full of “misses.”
I arrived at home just as George and John arrived from school pick-up. I had a great trip to Alaska and am grateful that my parents and John took extra special care of George while I was away.
What did I Pack?
I borrowed John’s trusty Tumi carry-on suitcase for this trip. Because his carry-on is slightly bigger than mine, and because I was carrying a packet of heavy printed hand-out documents, I opted to have a larger carry-on bag. I didn’t check a bag (and I rarely ever do) on this trip due to the multi-leg, multi-airline nature of my journey. Nothing says “lost bag” like trying to check a bag to your final destination when dealing with multiple stops/airlines. Bags usually make it, but I don’t like chancing it.
I also brought along my oversize work bag. Since I also brought along my laptop on this trip, I needed more space for chargers, files and, well…my laptop.
I brought along a heavy coat, a scarf and thick socks because it was very cold in Juneau and I knew we were going to be doing a bit of walking outdoors.