Thursday, October 23, 2008

Green Mom on the road...

I've been gone for four days. Traveling for work, attending some trade markets and in general miserably sleeping in hotel rooms, eating chain restaurant food with co-workers and missing my children and husband. However, this isn't a misery, gripe and cry blog. It's a green blog. So, here's how I try, really try, to make business travel a little greener.

1. Carry a Sigg, Kleen Kanteen or other reusable water bottle as well as morning coffee mug. Remember - please don't attempt to carry a Sigg full of water or tea through security. They really don't look to happy when you want to dump water into one of the gray bins. Bonus? While in meetings your co-workers will sneak curious glances at your dented, birdie and flower printed Sigg and wonder... "What in the heck do you think she's got in there??"

2. Why walk when you can ride? I'm from Detroit and we lack any reliable source of public transportation of any kind, so when in Rome.... At trade shows, large cities or markets I ride the shuttle buses, opt for ride share taxis or vans to and from the airports, I take the train or subways. Occasionally, I have a co-worker or two who thinks this is a hassle, but for the most part they are game and I save the company some cash which they love.

3. Hotel living is certainly not like home, but you should act like it. Turn out the lights when you leave the room, ask the front desk not to leave a newspaper at your door (unless you read it, then in which case recycle it), reuse your towels, turn of the tap and in general, behave just as you would at home. Except for the whole "yank off the yucky comforter and throw it in the corner" thing...

4. BYOS - otherwise known as "Bring Your Own Stuff". A shampoo bar is a girl's best friend. It gets around the TSA's funny "NO LIQUIDS unless in a 3 oz. container in yet another plastic zip-top bag" rule. For a few days a shampoo bar is perfect for washing your hair, scrubbing your bod and even shaving your legs and underarms. Those little freebies at the hotel? Leave them untouched or ask the front desk to remove them so they can be used by someone who needs them.

5. Here's my biggest pitfall. Eating out. When with a large group someone usually says, let's eat at Crapplebees or Thank God It's Not Fridays! UGH. Factory farmed meats, dehydrated veggies and corn syrup laden drinks. Sometimes you just can't avoid going with the group consensus, at which time I usually ask the waiter for vegetarian options, usually getting the eyebrow raise from a co-worker as if to say, Oh, she's one of those. Yeah, well, I'm also your boss so let's keep that in mind. However, when I'm traveling solo, or with an adventurous pal, I usually ask the concierge for a local suggestion or a place specializing in fresh, organic or regional specialty foods. I have had some pretty good opportunities to dine in some great restaurants from coast to coast that might have looked questionable from the outside, but had some great food and people inside. The bellman is usually pretty happy to suggest his wife's favorite restaurant or his brother's little hole in the wall place specializing in killer tamales!

6. Guilt gifts. I hate to say it, but sometimes you just gotta cave and bring the kiddies something so they have that to look forward to when Mom comes home. And? Dad can totally snap a four-year old out of an "I miss Mommy whiiiiine" with the reminder of a special surprise sure to come. A great idea is to stock up on things AHEAD of time. I never have a spare minute while on the road and I hate to buy plastic, airport crap. The next time you are at a craft fair or art store, pick up neat (read lightweight...) coloring books, crafts, books, tattoos, pencils etc. and stash them in a back or hidden pocket of your travel case. Voila! Upon returning home choose and item or two and you have a gift you can live with purchasing and you are a four-year old's very cool Mom.

There you have it, I have tons of little tips and tricks for business travel. But, I am home and have a mountain of laundry to do and lots of little kiddies that want to see what I've brought them....

3 comments:

Alline Anderson said...

Thanks for a great post! It's nice to read that I'm not the only one carting around my Klean Kanteen, ignoring the teeny bottles of shampoo and throwing the disgusting comforter in the corner! I got tired of using plastic flatware when I traveled (especially to trade shows where there are few options) and so made these: check it out!
http://store.milkweedmercantile.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=86_2&products_id=232

Going Green Mama said...

Great post! I've certainly been there. And I understand about the gift pressure, but I've tried to buy usable gifts (i.e. fun cups or neutral t-shirts in a larger size.) Or, you could always find something fun in the trade show goodies! Granted, I only travel once a year, so it's not a big issue for me!

Amy Bradstreet said...

Great post! Another great option for eating on the road is finding food at the local market or grocery store. A small loaf of bread and some local chevre and fruit, for example (depending on the season) does very nicely for a meal or two (and bring a cooler).

As for gifts or souvenirs, we have done things like collect pretty rocks or pinecones or other gifts of nature, sent ourselves postcards, or again brought home some local treat from the grocery store, like maple syrup from Ontario.