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Style Guide: A Week of Vacation Outfits

July 11, 2016

Currently sitting poolside, I’m wrapping up my family vacation in Charleston, SC. It’s been a very enjoyable #liangfamilyminivacation and although it was a short trip, we packed a lot in. We took the ferry to Fort Sumter, toured historic downtown Charleston via Old South Carriage Company, shopped the Charleston Farmers Market, hit the beach on Sullivan’s Island (where I became a sandy human churro), and got a taste of the nightlife at Stars Rooftop & Grill Room and 492.  Per Danielle’s recommendation in her Charleston Weekend Getaway, we had dinner at Five Loaves Cafe and had one too many Moscow Mules at The Rarebit‘s stellar happy hour.

I hate looking like a tourist but when you are one it’s hard to find the balance between style and practical. While we were here temperatures clocked in around 95 degrees while the sun was out. This made for a lot of sweating profusely and trying desperately to maintain some semblance of looking put together. I used to be a big outfit planner but when I arrived at my destination I would realize I had over packed and didn’t need half of the things I had brought. This time around, I had packed lightweight pieces that could be paired together and layered as the sun went down (or if the restaurant was chilly).  We were only here for four days but it would have been easy to rotate through the clothing to generate unique looks for every day of the week.

What to Pack:

White tee

Oversized muscle tank

Half cami or cute bra you don’t mind showing off

Gauzy button up maxi dress

Small backpack

Harem pants

Graphic tank

Denim shorts

Black shorts

Sunglasses and a couple of layering necklaces (should be the same metal or metals that mix well together)

DAY 1 

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Travel days call for loose fitting clothing. A soft graphic tank and loose harem pants is the perfect outfit for a long car ride/flight/bus trip/etc. It’s basically pajamas pretending to be day wear and doing a damn good job at it.

DAY 2

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Take those comfy pants, pair it with a white tee and grab your tourist-y back pack and take to sightseeing! This is a pretty simple look so feel free to layer on your necklaces or knot the side of the shirt to make things a little more interesting.

DAY 3

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Dress up your white tee and denim shorts with a gauzy unbuttoned maxi dress as a duster. This makes for a dramatic look that can easily be worn into the evening.

DAY 4 


A minimal short and half cami pairing is perfect for those really hot days. If you are like me and tend to quickly get too hot or too cold, bring along that maxi dress as a scarf or tie it around your waist for easy access.

DAY 5


Break up your monochromatic minimal look by throwing an oversized muscle tee on top. Give yourself a waist by tying a knot with some of the excess fabric (can you tell this is my favorite styling trick?).

DAY 6


Layer, layer, layer. This is the easiest way to keep your outfits feeling fresh as you recycle your pieces throughout the week. The maxi dress is a duster again and worn over shorts, the half cami and oversized muscle tank.

DAY 7 


By the last day of vacation, I’m usually at my laziest point. Trying to be fashionable is the last thing on my mind as I’m trying to cram as much vacation into those final hours. Throw that maxi dress over a swim suit and call it a day.

All of these pieces can be rotated for a few more days. The graphic tank can be paired with both the shorts. The tee and tanks can be layered over the maxi dress and tied at the waist to give the impression of a maxi skirt. If your vacation is longer than a week, throw a few more items in your bag and add to the rotation. For a more casual look, a long jersey dress can be layered with tees and tanks, and then worn solo to dinner. A short slip dress would also be good to throw in your bag. Layer it over tees for sightseeing and wear it alone or with the maxi dress duster for a night out. Remember that the key to making this work is to pick a color scheme and make sure your individual pieces will all pair well with one another. If you need help with packing light you can read my guide here. Happy vacationing!

Travel

Guide to Food in South Bay, California

June 25, 2016

I’ve spent four of the past ten weeks in the South Bay, just about 45 hour south of San Francisco in Northern California. Also known as Silicon Valley, the area is well known as being the home base for many (many) giant tech companies and startups alike. An estimated 2 million people live in South Bay and business is booming. The weather is perfect (of course, its the Bay Area) and, because people are coming from across the country/world to work in technology, it is incredibly diverse which in turn leads to diverse food choices—I was pretty impressed with all the food in South Bay.

The first time I was in the Bay Area was three summers ago, right after I graduated college. I got to see a lot of San Francisco, and so the two trips I took this year I didn’t feel like I had to spend all of my time in the city. I took a few day trips to San Francisco both times I was out there but also got to spend time more locally and realized that I really like South Bay. It definitely has a more relaxed vibe than San Fransisco but because there are so many people out there (and a lot of money…) the food is amazing and there is a lot to do. The gathering of smaller cities are all close to each other and easy to get to—I found it kept vacation exciting to go eat and explore different places that were as close as 3 miles from one another. The first time I was there I went for my job so I had nights and weekends to explore. My second trip, which I just came home from earlier this week, I went to visit Devlin who is living there (also for work) for the summer (more on my feelings on that to come in a later post…).

If you’re in Santa Clara Valley/South Bay/Silicon Valley area for an extended amount of time, it’s definitely nice to have the option to go to San Fransisco, drive an hour in the opposite direction to go to the beach in Santa Cruz, visit the Redwoods or the gorgeous views of the Pacific Coast Highway (gotta go to Big Sur!) but to eat you don’t have to go so far—here are some of my favorite places for food in South Bay.

The Table

the table san jose

City: Willow Glen, San Jose
Best For: A bougie/boozy brunch. The menu has great benedicts, french toasts, and an omelet of the day. 
Don’t Miss: Bottomless mimosas on the weekend, monkey bread.
Outdoor Seating?: Yes!
$$

Ramen Izakaya Yu-Gen

ramen mountain view

ramen mountain view

City: Mountain View
Best For: Um, Ramen.
Don’t Miss: The Ramen. The Tonkatsu Deluxe Ramen (w/ pork belly!) is fcking incredible.  If you’re getting beer, splurge for the Japanese Ale Sansho.
Outdoor Seating?: A few tables on the sidewalk.
$$

Original Gravity

original gravity

City: Downtown San Jose
Best For: 
Happy Hour on a gorgeous day, a large selection of local beers on tap.
Don’t Miss: The sausages. We missed it, but they looked soo good (the internet agrees).
Outdoor Seating?: Yes, and plenty of it. They’ve got a large patio out back (just watch for falling pinecones).
$$

Philz Coffee

philz coffee

City: Everywhere. Seriously.
Best For:
Coffee…
Don’t Miss: Mint Mojito Iced Coffee
Outdoor Seating?: Most do!
$

Pizza Antica

pizza antica

City: Santana Row, San Jose
Best For: 
Thin-crust personal pizza.
Don’t Miss: The burrata appetizer. Also, although the pizza looked delicious, don’t look past the pasta. 
Outdoor Seating?: Yes, a beautiful outdoor seating area right on Santana Row, an upscale shopping strip in San Jose. 
$$

Taqueria Patzcuaro

taqueria patzcuaro

City: Sunnyvale
Best For: 
Affordable and authentic tacos, burritos
Don’t Miss: The carne asada tacos are incredible. Don’t miss them.
Outdoor Seating?: It’s a taco truck in a gas station parking lot, but they’ve got a few stools  to hangout. No indoor seating, unless you eat in your car.
$

The Tap Room

palo alto tap room

City: Palo Alto
Best For: 
Delicious local beers from the Palo Alto Brewing Company in a fun bar environment. Seating includes a bar, private tables, and communicate indoor-picnic benches.
Don’t Miss: The daily flight—every day, the Tap Room offers a select flight of five beers.
Outdoor Seating?: Nope. But they’ve got pool and pinball which is a close second.
$$

Go Fish Poke Bar

go fish poke bar

City: Cupertino
Best For:
The poke bowl—which is basically deconstructed sushi in a bowl (rice, raw fish, scallion, sesame seeds, tobiko, etc…
Don’t Miss: Get a poke bowl. You can get the classic with rice, get it over some lettuce, or over yam noodles (my personal favorite). It’s set up ‘Chipotle-style’, so you can pick exactly what you want.
Outdoor Seating?: Sort of… Go Fish Poke Bar is in a strip mall, and the strip mall has outdoor seating across the parking lot you can sit at..
$$

Vaso Azzuro Ristorante

vaso azzurre mountain view

City: Mountain View
Best For: 
Well-done, classic Italian food. They also have gluten-free options.
Don’t Miss: They make a delicious affogato. Also, talk to the owners! They were the sweetest and (not to be cheesy) but this restaurant is seriously built on love.
Outdoor Seating?: Yes, right on the main street in Mountain View (Castro Street) but it’s sectioned for a good atmosphere.
$$$

Nektar Juice Bar

nekter juice bar

City: Sunnyvale
Best For: 
Smoothies, juices, and açaí bowls.
Don’t Miss: The pink flamingo smoothie (pictured above). Pitaya gives it that gorgeous instagram-worthy color, and it is absolutely delicious.
Outdoor Seating?: Yes.
$

Patxi’s Pizza

food in south bay

photo via BitterSweetBlog

Ok, so this one is for Devlin. I thought Patxi’s was just okay, but I’m not into deep dish—I think it’s too much. Too much cheese, too much pizza. I’m from New York, it feels unnatural. But when Devlin and I first started dating, he spoke very favorably about Patxi’s and I’ve heard about it for like a year and a half before trying it. And it was the best deep dish pizza I’ve ever had so…

City: Campbell/Palo Alto/San Jose
Best For: 
Really amazing deep dish pizza.
Don’t Miss:  Share a deep dish pizza with some friends, and don’t miss the honey on the table. The crust at Patxi’s is thick and flakey. Once you’ve finished with sauce and cheese, put some honey on that crust. Trust me. It’s the best part of this pizza. 
Outdoor Seating?: San Jose has outdoor seating, Palo Alto & Campbell do not.
$$

Red Rock Coffee Company

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City: Mountain View
Best For:
A good cafe to get work done, go on a date, have a business meeting.
Don’t Miss: The honey lavender latte (mine is with almond milk, but I’m sure it’s good no matter what).
Outdoor Seating?: Nope, but there are some public benches around Mountain View to enjoy your brew.
$

El Jardin Tequila Bar

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City: Santana Row, San Jose
Best For: When you want Mexican food and tequila but also want to sit outside in a beautiful garden but also want to be in a sports bar.
Don’t Miss: The cocktails! I got a roasted jalepeno margarita which was delicious. The nachos *looked* amazing too. Also don’t miss the live music.
Outdoor Seating?: El Jardin only offers outdoor seating. Nestled in the center of Santana Row, El Jardin is enclosed and it’s easy to forget you’re not in someone’s private garden. The bathroom is at a restaurant across the street, which is kind of weird.
$$

 

Dishdash

dish dash sunnyvale

Photo courtesy of Dishdash (I went for dinner…way too dark for a good photo!)

City: Sunnyvale
Best For: 
Mediterranean cuisine at it’s best. Dishdash is a great environment for dinner.
Don’t Miss: In terms of food, you can’t go wrong but the lamb shank was the best piece of lamb I have ever eaten. It fell apart with just a fork and my entire table had order envy. Also the cucumber mint lemonade shouldn’t be missed either.
Outdoor Seating?: Yes, and expect a wait if you go to dinner. Very easily the busiest restaurant in on Murphy Street.
$$

Have any favorite food in South Bay? Let me know in the comments below—I have a feeling I’ll be back and will need to keep exploring.

Travel

Weekend Getaway: Charleston, SC

April 21, 2016

Weekend

Looking for a quick weekend getaway from Baltimore? This past weekend I went down to Charleston, SC for a friend’s Bachelorette party – The city is absolutely gorgeous, filled to the brim with fun stuff to do and amazing food, and only a short drive to the beach. If that’s not the makings of an ideal weekend getaway, I don’t know what is.

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Getting there & Where to stay: The flight is only a little over an hour long, with direct service via Southwest. If you didn’t know, BWI is a Southwest hub, so I always check out their site for flights first (they don’t use any conglomerate sites like Expedia, etc.) and I signed up for their emails for deals. You can find pretty reasonable flights, but it’s also a doable drive (about 8 hours) if you’re into that sort of thing.

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Airbnb has some really cool spots in Charleston, including house boats! We stayed in a  VRBO house in Folly Beach, which is about 20 minutes from downtown, and is a cute little hippie sufer town with some shops and restaurants. For us, waking up looking at the ocean was totally worth the short drive into the city, but there are plenty of places to stay downtown as well.

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Things to Do: We barely scratched the surface on all the cool stuff this city has to offer! Our first day downtown we did a distillery tour at High Wire Distilling Co to mix it up from your usual brewery tour. It was really cool to learn about the different methods of distilling, and they make the best gin I’ve ever had, hands down – and I don’t even like gin! After the tour, we walked down to some of the shops and restaurants, grabbing a drink at the moody and dark Prohibition and then to Rarebit for the best Moscow Mule I have ever had in my life.

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That night, we made our way down King St to a club that has a drag show on Friday and Saturday nights – Cure Nightclub. The show was great and we had a great time dancing and having a drink. (ok, I admit it – we had 2 each. … )

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I always say if you’re gonna tourist – tourist it the hell up. Which means the pineapple fountain in Waterfront Park is a must see. But all tourist jokes aside (cough, socks and sandals, cough) the park is gorgeous and would be a great spot to bring a picnic and relax on the water. From there you can walk to Charleston City Market and pursue some Southern goods.

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All the Eats: Honestly, I would go back to Charleston and do nothing but eat. Pay somebody to roll me from restaurant to restaurant. Seems legit to me..

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But really – there are some amazing spots to eat, and we could only get to a few of them. We went to a yummy little spot the first night we got there in Folly Beach called Rita’s who had some unique and delicious drinks. Another favorite for dinner was Muse, where we sipped bottles of wine and dined on homemade pasta.

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For lunch, we headed to Five Loaves Cafe, which let you build basically infinite combinations of fresh, homemade soups, salads, and sandwiches. Panera, your you-pick-two aint got nothin’ on this place.

For the sweet tooth, we walked over to Sugar from Five Loaves for cupcakes – the minis were basically the cutest things I’ve ever seen.

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Like I said, we barely scratched the surface on all the delicious eats in this city, so don’t limit yourself. Open table and Yelp your way around, you’ll surely find something great.

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There aren’t enough words or pictures to cover how much I loved my quick weekend getaway to Charleston (good company helps too!) but as a first time visitor, I will definitely be back. What are your favorite Charleston spots so I can add them to my list for next time? Let me know in the comments.

Travel

Surviving a Long Layover

April 1, 2016

Layovers, in my opinion are incredibly stressful. Travel itself is stressful and layovers—especially a long layover—can add stress on top of stress. Not ideal. Whenever possible, I try to fly nonstop flights (I actually would prefer to travel by Amtrak to New York to fly out of JFK if it means my flight is direct. Crazy? Maybe. Beats chilling in an airport in many situations). I don’t love airports but have spent a lot of time in them but still, I try to minimize time spent waiting as much as possible. Sometimes a layover is inevitable, whether your job booked your flight for you (me next week) or if you booked a last-minute international flight to visit family and the cheapest flight available was a flight with a 7 hour layover in the Miami airport (me right now). When the undesired becomes your reality, it helps to be prepared. Here are my tips for surviving a long layover.

  1. Come Prepared
    prepare for a trip
    Prepare for your trip so you don’t need to worry about small details day-of while you’re trying to navigate a new airport. Do some research on the airport you’re visiting before hand. Ask questions at the airport. Make sure you know where you need to clear customs and find out if you need to collect your bag after your first flight or if the airline will take care of getting your luggage to your final destination. Find out if you need to change terminals and if its as simple as a walk down the hall or as complicated as the fcking Atlanta airport. Look up some of the food/coffee shops/etc you can expect in your arrival and/or departure terminal so you kinda know what to expect. Make sure you’re comfortable with what you’re wearing. I love to travel and truly believe that being in control & preparing well is the key to success (of course, shit happens and flights are delayed etc but in those situations it’s still nice to know that you’ve taken care of everything you can control). I have written two posts that detail the importance of being prepared when you are traveling: one that helps with the days leading up to the trip (here), and one that helps make the day-of your vacation that much easier (here). Although these posts are focused on international travel, they’re applicable for all types of journeys and will help to a stress-free layover.
  2. Get Shit Done.

    Whether you are in school, have a real-life salaried job where you’re expected to work all the time, or write a blog (hi), use your layover to be productive and get work done. Find a nice environment, a power outlet, and get to work. This is probably the most practical way to spend your layover and will benefit the most type A readers among us. While I do enjoy being extremely productive during a layover, I like to mix it up a bit. Take breaks and walk around/go shopping/drink some wine/etc. If you have a lot of work to get done, it can quickly pass the time in a way that’ll help you enjoy your trip a little bit more.
  3. Don’t rely on wifi.

    7. Hour. Layover.

    Posted by Julie Laufer on Wednesday, March 30, 2016

    m2W5Vlt

    k but anyone have a ‘boingo wifi’ subscription?

    Posted by Julie Laufer on Wednesday, March 30, 2016

    Airports always nickel and diming you! It’s absurd! Food is expensive, drinks are expensive, those stupid neck pillows are expensive, and on top of that more often than not you have to pay for wifi! The airport wifi monopoly seems to be controlled by a company called ‘Boingo’ and they charge per hour, per day, or per month for you to get your web fix on. So, unless you want to pay for it ($8 a day. You decide if it is worth it I won’t judge) then come to terms with the fact you may not get to spend a whole lot of time of wifi. Save your cellular data for this trip or enjoy one of the other things on this list. Just make sure to download any playlists/books you may need before getting to the airport.

  4. Eat.

    There is no question that airplane food is garbage. It’s filled with sodium and it’s job is to keep you full and like I’m convinced it is whatever the minimum requirement for ‘food’. It’s a good idea to eat something during your layover so you’ll eat less plane food later. Although airport food isn’t amazing, it is much much better than the freeze-dried airplane food (or however the fuck its prepared I really don’t care it’s garbage). You can at least find a delicious burger and fries or a salad—whatever floats your boat.
  5. Drink.

    Grab a drink while you’re at it. One thing airports have a lot of is alcohol. And if an airport is not the most socially acceptable place to drink alone, I don’t know what is. Make sure to stay hydrated and drink water (yawn) but treat yourself to a glass of wine or three. Just make sure you feel okay and can walk straight when you board your flight. Don’t want you blaming because they left you in Minneapolis because you were too drunk to get on the plane.
  6. Read.

    Get lost in a book (or 5). Grab a copy of your favorite magazine (maybe this month’s edition of Baltimore Style Magazine, featuring your favorite bloggers *ahem its us*). Download some books to your iPad or borrow a friends’ favorite novel before you head out. There’s always the Hudson News that’s inevitably at every airport to stock up on reading material if you don’t come prepared too. Reading is a great way to pass the time—whether you choose to read The Iliad or this week’s InTouch, you’re bound to be enthralled to some degree.
  7. Treat yo self.
    LCC4J
    Whether it be big or small, make sure to treat yoself during this layover. Head to the Duty Free shop and snag a bottle of that Chanel perfume you’ve always wanted or enjoy some ice cream. Get a stupid neck pillow so I can make fun of you on the plane (and then curse your name when you’re snoozing away and I can’t get comfortable). Drink one more vodka soda (hehehe). Some airports have nail salons and massage studios to truly pamper yourself.
  8. Meet People.
    IMG_0812Lol. Ok or not. People suck & I’m awkward. I’m not talking to anyone I don’t know unless I have to. But like if you’re good at this sort of thing by all means talk to the people around you. It could be fun you’re more extroverted and/or learning from others (sounds like torture imho but to each their own). To all my singles, this could be a fun way to swipe through Tinder? Maybe? Are the kids still using Tinder? If anything, talking to strangers could help plan your next layover destination.
  9. Sleep.

    Ok much better than *shudder* talking to people. Find a quiet area and get some snooze. If you check the Yelp/Foursquare page of the airport you’re laying over in, you may find sleeping tips from past passengers and you can enjoy nap-approved wings of the airport. This is especially important for overnight layovers, but sometimes you want to catch some daytime zzz as well. Also, some airlines (admittedly, mainly non-American airlines) have lodging policy, meaning if your layover is long enough they’ll pay for you to stay in a hotel. This is worth asking the question when you book your flight.
  10. Create.

    Get a little creative. Bring along an adult coloring book and get lost trying to color between the lines (EVEN THOUGH IT IS IMPOSSIBLE IN THEM THE LINES ARE SO SMALL OK).  Take an artsy instagram photo oh the airport. Write some poetry. Knit a scarf. Put your energy into creating something that you otherwise wouldn’t give yourself the time to do. It feels good.
  11. Exercise.
    Ok ok hear me out. You just sat on one flight for who knows how long and you’re getting ready to sit on another one for perhaps even longer. In between those flights, you have more waiting. It’s good to take advantage of this free time and get your body moving. I’ve seen folks whip out their yoga mats and get into a couple of poses but I prefer to just walk the terminal. At a big enough airport, you can end up walking 3-4 miles if you keep doing laps. It’s also a great way to see what their airport has to offer (in terms of food, shopping, etc) so you can make good use of your layover. If you’re looking for something a bit more high-impact, just pretend you’re late for your flight and run around the airport telling people to move out of the way. You’ll really confuse people when you settle at the bar and order a beer!
  12. Explore!
    This goes out to the adventurer in us all. If you’ve got a 5 hour+ layover, you can venture outside and leave the airport. Take into consideration you’ll have to go through security again (the worst) and most airports are situated *just* outside big cities and tend to be surrounded by traffic, but hey its your layover! Just get back to the airport with enough time to not miss your flight. If you choose to leave the airport during your layover, be a little prepared and find out what is close, what is cool, and what is ultimately the best use of your time.

“Enjoy” your layover and pay attention—my gate was moved an hour before my flight and I still showed up and the wrong gate at first. Be on time and don’t miss your flight. You’ve just spent too much time in an airport so get you’re ass on that plane!

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Have any tips for surviving a long layover? Have a funny/tragic layover story? Let us know in the comments below!

Travel

Making the Most of Work Travel

March 13, 2016

I’ve spent the last two weeks commuting to different places for work, and if you’ve ever spent any time on 495, you know it is basically Dante’s 5th circle. I spent way more of my life in traffic than I did at home or anywhere else for that matter, and it totally sucked. (Used Shae’s commuting tricks to help – girl, I don’t know how you do it.) I have travelled some for work before and travelled quite a bit for my sorority back in college, and as difficult and annoying as it can be, I actually love it.

While the added commute can be tiring and venturing so far from your normal routine is exhausting, there are some really good things that can come from “forced” travel – meeting new people, seeing new places, etc. So whether you are venturing to a cool new city or just commuting to another town, you should try to make the best of this break from the routine. Here’s how:

  1. Make the most of your commuteShae already touched on the ways to do this if you’re traveling by car, and I got all caught up on Rupaul’s What’s the Tee? and The Missing Maura Murray Podcasts while I tried to make peace with taking 1 hour to go 8 miles. When traveling by train or plane, your options are even better – read a book you’ve been putting off or catch up on a new show. Use this time as added “me” time, because you won’t have as much as you usually do and that can be very draining.
  2. Present yourself well First impressions matter! Not saying you have to glam up or bring your pants suit if you work in a casual environment, but a beautiful lipstick or your favorite sandals will make you feel more confident and get you noticed – in a good way. Being the visiting guy who wore sweatpants to the office isn’t exactly the best way to make an entrance. Be the best #bosslady you can be, and people will remember you for all the good you brought to their location and not how sloppy you looked.

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  3. Try something newYelp the closest coffee shop with the best ratings or ask your co-workers where their favorite lunch spot is. While it can be easier to grab something familiar from a big chain when out of town, trying something new feels like a little treat amongst all the work. Most of the time you won’t have much time for fun things, so squeeze out every second of exploring this new city that you can. The weather was beautiful here last week, so I always spent my lunch hour just roaming around the area and seeing what kinds of places were around.
  4. Network, network, networkI know I shouldn’t have to tell you this – it’s biz travel 101. But sometimes we forget the importance of networking outside of the normal channels. Connect with people professionally and personally, you never know when you could end up moving to a new city and need those connections for a job or just tips on what neighborhood to live in. It’s easier than ever to maintain those connections through social media – just choose the route carefully. I.e. stick to LinkedIn if you still do keg stands on the weekend and post it on Facebook. Also, stop doing that its 2016.
  5. Treat yourself for a job well-doneWhether it’s a little break from your diet to have some fancy chocolate or a new lipstick, treat yourself to something small when you’re done. You’ve worked hard, traveling is exhausting, and you deserve it! It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant or pricey, just something you wouldn’t normally do for yourself at the end of the work week.
  6. Say thank youBe a gracious guest – say thank you. Even if you’re going somewhere to boss people around, thank them for hosting you. A personal email to the team you worked with is nice, but a handwritten Thank You card will never go out of style. Your grace and humility will not be forgotten long after you’ve left.

 

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Do you travel a lot for work? What are your best tips? Comment below!