Category Archives: Vacation Travel

CHOICE Expedition – Tammy’s Story

choice-corporate-partners

Christopherson Business Travel is a proud corporate sponsor of CHOICE Humanitarian. In addition to voluntary employee contributions and matching program, Christopherson annually sends a group of employees on a week-long humanitarian expedition. Based out of Salt Lake City, CHOICE Humanitarian works in seven countries to help those in extreme poverty.  Using a village-centered approach, they work to improve quality of life through self-sufficiency.  This year, our group employees visited a small village in the Buena Vista region of Guatemala. Tammy Irvin, a corporate travel advisor from our Alabama office was selected to volunteer on this trip.

Tammy’s story with Choice Humanitarian

The CHOICE Humanitarian expedition to Guatemala is a trip I will never forget. This trip brought out so many emotions in me—laughter, sadness, heartbreak, and amazement. I cannot thank Christopherson Andavo enough for the opportunity to participate.

I arrived to the hustle and bustle of Guatemala City. It was a little overwhelming at first, but our trip leaders made me feel at ease. We were treated to a great meal at a local restaurant and a trip to the Market. Once the rest of the team members arrived, we went to our first stop, a resort called Rio Dulce. There, I met Amy, my roomie for the week and the other Christopherson Andavo team members, along with the other expedition participants. We enjoyed dinner together and had a great time relaxing at the pool.

The next day, we went on a boat ride and then boarded two small buses. I am extremely afraid of heights, so I was not looking forward to this part of the trip. We wound around the mountainous roads and finally, we arrived—to the “drop-over- the-edge-and-you-will-die point.” I got a few heckles, but my fear faded and I was fine.

Finally, we arrived at Sikaab’e. Sikaab’e is a vocational training school in the Polochic Valley. Sikaabe is Q’eqchi for “seek your path.” We were lucky enough to stay in their dorm for the week! The next day we began our work of digging trenches, building chicken coops, and painting the dorm. We took a day to visit with the women in a neighboring village and teach hygiene, while the men bonded with the local soccer team. Every day was an adventure. As the week went by, we slowly realized that you can disconnect, be unplugged, and you will survive.

In short, we ate, laughed, cried, made new friends we will never forget, and helped someone make it through one more day. The trip is actually helping me make it through one more day. I know it’s not what you have, it’s what you give—in whatever way you give it. I have never seen so many happy people—so many people that didn’t have much, but what they had, they were grateful for.

I have a million memories and for that, I am thankful.

6 Tips to Relax While Traveling

Relax while traveling for business

Are you constantly stressed while traveling for work? Being away from your home and family can easily throw anyone off. Not to mention a completely different schedule than your daily routine. Whether you are new to business travel or an seasoned roadwarrior, many parts of the journey can leave you feeling anxious.  Knowing how to relax while traveling is an important but often overlooked variable of business trips.

Tricks to help you relax while traveling:

Plan ahead 

Visualizing where you’ll be, what you will be wearing and events you will be attending can establish a schedule and even control. Before you head out the door, spend a few minutes researching. Knowing the address of your hotel and where it’s located will eliminate a few harried minutes at the airport. Or if you are attending a conference, download the schedule beforehand and plan out which sessions you’d like to see. Going in with a game plan might just help keep you confident and ready for other experiences.

Don’t over-schedule yourself 

Speaking of scheduling your time, try not to overbook your day. Factor things like jet lag, amount of sleep, work deadlines, etc. before committing to additional plans.

Unplug

Though it can seem impossible, try to have a few intervals during the day to unplug from work. If you can’t do that, even 15 minutes before going to sleep can recharge you for the next day.

Wellness

Make sure to take care of your health while on the road to help melt away the stress. Take advantage of hotel wellness programs, hit the gym, or grab some healthy snacks to offset an unhealthy traveling diet.

Family Pictures 

If you are missing your loved ones at home, save pictures of them on the background of your phone or computer. Seeing your family members may bring a smile to your face as you go through long days of meetings.

Save time for a vacation 

Our last tip is to take a vacation when you are done with work travel. Whether a full vacation or just a weekend ‘bleisure’ trip can open your eyes to a new place. Connect with a travel advisor at Andavo Travel, Christopherson’s leisure travel division, to plan a trip for complete relaxation.

Add Wellness Travel to your Business Travel

wellness-travel

I recently came across this article from our luxury travel consortium, Virtuoso, about new wellness travel trends.  I hadn’t heard of many of them (although plenty of our Andavo Travel advisors specialize in wellness travel), and found them fascinating.  Perhaps for a stressed-out business traveler, one of these wellness trends may be just the ticket for your next vacation.

Wellness Travel ideas for business travelers

Hygge

Pronounced “hoo-gah”, this Danish concept is catching popularity. Roughly meaning “the pursuit of coziness” – it’s an established time to curl up with a good book and hot mulled wine. In wellness travel, this could be stepping away from the chaos. Enroll in forest walks, classes in reading or writing haiku, watercolor classes, and alpine treks.

Conscious Eating

Sometimes the food is the highlight of a vacation. In our society of diets and fads, it’s easy to feel guilty about indulging, even when away. Conscious eating is less about sticking to a regime, and more about being mindful. The focus is instead on where food comes from, how it’s produced, how your body will respond to it, and if it’s the best choice for you.

 

Digital Detox

Staying connected is becoming more and more important these days. With emails, social media, news feeds etc, it can be impossible to get away. Hence, the latest in wellness trends, digital detox. Resorts offering a digital detox often ban technology in public areas, and some don’t offer Wi-Fi at all. Other places require guests to surrender their devices upon arrival, returning them only after the program or stay is complete.  They’ve found that guests sleep better and are more present  overall.

Mindful Meditation

Meditation is practiced around the world, but it has recently reached critical mass stateside, with apps zooming to the top of the Apple App Store best-seller list and pop-up, pop-in studios sprouting across the country to help busy people calm their minds.

Whatever the individual practice, the benefits of meditation are grounded in scientific fact: A recent study reported that mindfulness meditation provided a cure for pain relief, while devotees report reduced stress, clearer thinking, and diminished anxiety.

High-Tech Wellness

These spas blow the traditional spa out of the water.  Focused on identifying and addressing chronic health concerns,they use advanced technology to do it. Some use stem-cell biotechnology to help treat autoimmune diseases. Or full-day medical intakes that incorporate a body composition analysis, blood draw, and metabolic rate test. Vitamin deficiencies, allergies, and food intolerances can be spotted and treated, while more pervasive conditions have a chance to be identified and addressed through a combination of traditional and holistic treatments.

For guests suffering from persistent but vague ailments that have eluded diagnosis or treatment, high-tech wellness facilities are the perfect place to drill down and get to the root of what ails you.

Equine Therapy

Horses have long been recognized as therapeutic for those working through trauma or emotional issues. Many luxury resorts have started incorporating equine therapy programs as a source of creativity and connection. Some programs focus more on communication rather than riding. Popular as team-building exercises, they facilitate better listening and communication, while also reflecting human behavior. Other popular options include painting classes on the live canvas of the horse, to express emotions and center energy.

No matter how you de-stress, there is a wellness option out there for you. If interested if finding your own relaxing vacation away, please contact our Andavo Travel advisers.

How to Turn Your Business Trip into Your Next Vacation

Have you recently taken a whirlwind business trip to an amazing destination only to be stuck inside for meetings? The views of sandy beaches or a vibrant city you have through the windows of your meeting room, hotel, or whirring by in a taxi should not be missed! Though it can be frustrating, don’t lose up hope.

Tips to turn your business trip that could turn it into your future vacation

Accommodations  

You get to see firsthand an accommodation option. If you have enjoyed your stay at the hotel then you may already have a lead on where to stay again. If not, ask around if people are enjoying where they are staying. You may find another option you did not know existed.

Networking

Networking is all about getting to know people but sometimes it is hard to come up with topics to get started. What is a more perfect way to start a conversation at a meeting than to ask if they have been to the city before or something fun they got to do there? It will give you some ideas and a great introduction topic.

Location

Location, location, location. We have all heard the phrase and it really is important! Does the location you are staying in hold some appeal for what you want to do at the destination? Or would you rather stay somewhere more central to activities you think would be enjoyable? Taking note can help decide where exactly you want to end up on your return.

You may be working but it does not mean you can’t be planning some relaxation for the future! Connect with a travel adviser at Andavo Travel, Christopherson’s leisure travel division, to plan a trip for all the things you missed seeing and more.

 

 

London Vacation Recommendations

London vacation recommendationsMy family recently returned from an amazing spring break vacation visiting London and Paris.  Having visited these cities before, we planned the trip through the eyes of our teenage son- mixing culture, history, and Harry Potter.

Our Hotel In London

A great hotel in a convenient location was key to our itinerary. That’s why we chose  Anthenaeum Hotel and Residences. Recently renovated, it’s located in Mayfair overlooking Green Park. The hotel is also close to Buckingham Palace and St. James Palace. It was truly an excellent choice for us in London. The hotel rooms were quiet and provided five star amenities with beautiful views.  The onsite restaurant, Galivan, is the latest restaurant from Michelin star rated brothers, Chris and Jeff Galvin. It has an inviting atmosphere and delicious meals, including afternoon tea and all day dining.  We also enjoyed restaurants in charming Shepherds Market, which is just blocks from the hotel.

Events In London

Another great resource for this trip was our Virtuoso partner, Sincerely Paul.  Paul was my hero in locating sold out tickets in London. This included the critically important WB Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter. He helped me avoid a near parental fail for not securing tickets months in advance.  We look forward to working with Paul on our next visit to enjoy additional experiences beyond the city.

Working in the travel industry has a few perks and in the case of this trip, that was working with exceptional travel professionals in our organization that directed my travel plans and put my family on course for a memorable experience together.

Why Business Travelers Should Take Vacation

Business-travelers-vacationI’m just going to say it. Americans don’t take enough vacation. I understand though, I’m guilty of the same thing. Maybe you’re vying for a raise or proving your worth as an underdog. Add on an economy bouncing back from a recession, and Americans often feel guilty for taking time for themselves. But, did you know that we as a nation left 429 million unused days on the table last year? That’s a lot. Also, those unused vacation days simply gives money back to the employer. That’s a total of $224 billion that goes straight back to the company’s wallet. That’s your hard-earned time! 

This issue goes further than just getting what you deserve. Taking a vacation, or even just a few days off, can positively influence your health and wellbeing. And conversely, not taking time to relax can cause health issues.

How it affects your health

Overwork and heart disease is scientifically, quantifiably correlated. In a well renowned study analyzed in 1991 but beginning in 1948, found that women homemakers who took vacation once every six years or less had nearly twice the risk of developing heart attacks or fatal heart problems than those who took time off at least twice a year. Another research study, spanning 50 years and published in 2012, found that a ten-hour-or-more workday increased the risk of coronary heart risk by 80% in both sexes. The researchers correlated the health issues with prolonged exposure to psychological stress.  

Not surprisingly, this psychological stress can also effect mental health. In 2012, data was collected and analyzed from another prolonged study called Whitehall II. The Finnish Institute of Occupations Health found that people who work more than 11 hours (compared to those working 7-8 hours a day) were twice as likely to have a major depressive episode, even without previous mental health issues.  

Additionally, the same Finnish Institute in a different study found that people who work  55-hours-a-week, as opposed to 40 hours, demonstrated lower cognitive function, poor vocabulary and reasoning skills. Taking your deserved time off can save you from serious and lasting physical and mental health issues.

Taking vacations actually helps with productivity

Conversely, when you do take time off, you will likely return to work more refreshed and eager to get the job done. This is something that we’ve known for years. And mostly likely, so does your upper management. Happy employees, given time to relax and let their minds wander, are often more productive in the long run.

Larger companies are beginning to change their policies, ensuring their employees get the break they need. Arianna Huffington, from the Huffington Post, recently developed an opt-in vacation email policy. They had previously made it clear that no one is expected to check work email or voicemail during time off or the weekends. Even with this policy they found employees working away during their time out of the office. So they developed their own software that will automatically delete or archive all incoming email during their worker’s vacation time. Their email additionally will then send an auto-reply, asking the sender to either resend the email when the person is back in the office or ask them to reach out to someone else. Though this is an opt-in feature, and I imagine those that truly need it will never use it, it exemplifies the work-life balance attitude that American has lost.  

Hopefully your workplace understands the value of taking time off. Not only does it lower stress levels, defend against health concerns and make your more productive in the long run, it’s your hard earned time! Find out more information or how to discuss these points with your workplace at Project: Time Off

Travel Packing List For Dummies: Use Carry-on Luggage For EVERY Trip

Packing-list-dummies

Passengers gathering at the gate prior to their boarding time is strange to me. My first thought is often, ‘why stand in line before you are called, cutting into time that could be used for work, a preflight meal, catching up on a phone call?’ But then I remember that these travelers, like me, are terrified of not finding a space for their bag on the plane. I pride myself on using the same international sized carry-on for every trip, no matter how long. In fact, I wrote a blog on my favorite packing tips a few years ago.  Since I wrote this, I’ve continued traveling for business and leisure and know even more about packing light. I’ve discovered a few easy tips that are especially helpful as we move into the cooler months.

Carry-on packing tips for business and leisure travelers

1) Invest in packing cubes. They not only help you separate your clothes, but they really do keep everything compact. They are especially useful for sweaters!
2) Boot season is upon us and while they look great, knee-high boots can take up an entire suitcase. If boots are part of your wardrobe, wear them on the plane to save space.
3) Try wearing items that you have packed a few times during the same trip. A scarf or tie can really transform an outfit, and nobody will even notice that you had worn it the previous day.
4) If you plan to use the hotel gym, invest in a good workout outfit that is made of nylon. This material gets really small when folded and you can even roll the items and store them inside your workout shoes.
5) If you buy your cosmetics from a mall department store, do so when you can get a promotional gift. The bags that come with these gifts are often the perfect size for travel and the samples are usually travel sized.

Overall, I’ve learned that even with the stressful pre-boarding line, carry-on luggage is the best option for plane travel. Especially if you have an established packing routine with usable tips and tricks.

Looking for more helpful tips on business travel packing? Check out our other blog posts:

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company. We’ve worked passionately for more than 60 years to bring travel solutions to busy businesses. Learn more about our specialty travel technology or consultative services that save our clients time and money.

Create Memories and Celebrate Life’s Milestones with Travel

Cancun-Dec-2013-090

Cancun, Mexico

What do you get the guy who turns sixty and has more ball caps and tee shirts than he knows what to do with? How about a special trip to a sandy beach destination?

Of all the destinations around the world that we have visited, my husband’s favorite place to go is Cancun, Mexico. So, this past December, I made the arrangements for us to stay at an all-inclusive, adults-only resort on the fabled white sand beaches of Cancun. While the temperature in our home location of Salt Lake City was in the 20s and 30s, we were enjoying the sun and sand with temperatures in the mid 80s.

This isn’t the first time that we’ve traveled to Mexico in the first part of December, which also happens to be low season. One year we took the whole extended family: husbands, wives, and grandkids. It was a gift that replaced of a few years worth of Christmas presents, but we had a vacation of memories to share with our loved ones.

That trip to Tahiti for your 40th birthday, or an Alaskan cruise for Mom and Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary: those memories will last forever.

Contact an Andavo Travel advisor today and take all the stress out of planning that memorable trip for your special celebration.

Andavo Travel is the leisure travel division of Christopherson Business Travel, providing clients with world-class service through excellence, trust, integrity, loyalty, family, community, and caring.

15 Amazing Complimentary Travel Perks at Virtuoso Hotels

Local seafood is part of the tasting menu at Ecuador’s Casa Gangotena, a Virtuoso property.

Local seafood is part of the tasting menu at Ecuador’s Casa Gangotena, a Virtuoso property.

Christopherson Business Travel and the company’s leisure division, Andavo Travel, have been a valued member of the Virtuoso luxury travel consortium for more than 16 years. With nearly 9,000 elite travel specialists from more than 335 agencies in 25 countries, Virtuoso is the world’s most exclusive network of travel advisors. So exclusive, in fact, that only 1% of all travel agencies are invited to join.

Although we are an independently owned and operated travel agency, we have a world of resources at our fingertips through the Virtuoso network, which opens doors and provides access to sites and events not available to the general public.

When you book a Virtuoso hotel or resort through a travel agency that’s a Virtuoso member, you’ll get access to complimentary amenities, regardless of whether you are traveling for business or pleasure.

Quite often, these free amenities are daily breakfast, upgrade at time of booking (subject to availability), early check-in/late check-out (subject to availability), and one other individualized amenity of the hotel’s choosing. Curious about what one of those individualized amenities might be? Check out this Virtuoso article that outlines “15 Amazing Complimentary Travel Perks at Virtuoso Hotels.”

uberFAMILY

uberFamily-NycIn preparing for a recent family vacation to Washington D.C., I was discussing with a friend whether we should bring a car seat or pay for a very expensive airport transfer so we’d be able to reserve a car with a car seat.

Her response was, “Why don’t you use Uber? You can request a car with a baby seat.” I felt so behind the times. How did I not know Uber did this? Of course, I was intrigued but suspicious, so I decided to do my own “parent research.”

What I Learned

Uber has a select number of cars in New York, Philadelphia, and D.C. that come with a car seat. Uber cars in Philadelphia also come with booster seats for children over age four. For rides where the car seat is requested, a premium of $10 is charged for the trip. Uber hired The Car Seat Lady to consult on the type of car seat and train the drivers on installing the seat. They only offer one type of seat (the IMMI Go) and it is only approved for children over 12 months.

Select drivers were invited to have the option of having the seat in their car. Prior to receiving the car seat, they had to go to a training where The Car Seat Lady was in attendance to learn how to install the seat. One driver told us that drivers were not allowed to leave with the seat until they were able to install it perfectly. This took several hours.

Our experience with uberFAMILY was great. There were times when we had to wait a little longer for a car with a car seat, but it was well worth it! I would recommend this to anyone traveling to D.C., New York, or Philadelphia. We always felt that our drivers were competent in installing the seat and it sure was easier than having to lug our own car seat around.