New Year, New Destinations, New Perks?

a new year of travel and perks for The Lead CRA

I’m out on my first work trip of the year performing a few Site Initiation Visits for a new drug study in Southern California.  I’ve definitely logged some serious miles flying SFO->LAX in my time monitoring but hopefully I’ll have more sites soon in some locations that are new to me (but not anywhere it is snowing…fingers crossed).  So how do I keep my trips from becoming too routine and how do I avoid travel burnout?

In every city I seek out interesting new restaurants to try and explore the area as much as possible when I have to overnight.  I’m fine to dine alone or go to a movie alone, and I rarely if ever take meals at the hotel.  For restaurant recommendations, I research on the internet, ask my site personnel for tips, or I use an iPhone application like Urban Spoon or Yelp to get my bearings.  Last year I earned 20,000 miles on my preferred airline just by dining at restaurants they recommended on their website and for registering for all the promotions (that is basically a free roundtrip ticket in the US, so not too shabby just for routine within policy dining).  If I have a fabulous dining experience I will review it on the internet but I rarely dine again at the restaurant – I just love trying new things and find that a great dining experience is always better in your memory than when you return and try to relive it – it just never seems to meet my expectations the next time.

Cactus
I always have my camera ready in case I come across anything out of the ordinary.  When I see this cactus I remember a visit I did to Tucson, AZ. I was bored one evening so I went and found a new hair dresser.  Her name was Aqua!

I also love it when I visit the city of a friend or co-worker and we can meet up for shopping, touring, or dining after work.  Viewing a city with a local’s perspective is such a wonderful opportunity and I am lucky to have met up with friends and family at various times while on work trips in the past.  I’ve even been known to have buddies from home tag along and kick back around town or in the hotel while I am out at work all day.  Then in the evenings we meet up and check out the city together.  These trips have all been so memorable and special for me and I’m lucky to have a great job that allows me to travel and have so many wonderful experiences.  Maybe I’ll feel differently in 5 or 10 years but for now I am not road-weary at all.

I can’t recall whether I have mentioned on the blog before, but one wacky thing I do is to stay in a different hotel every night.  This is one part for safety, one part so I don’t get bored, and one part to satisfy my lust for hotel points and miles (top tier loyalty program status is awarded based on number of stays so if I am in a city for 3 nights I will stay at 3 hotels just to race to obtain the highest status – once obtained I challenge in a different hotel chain or chase hotel promotions as they come along).  Most monitors I talk to about this just shake their head in disbelief and laugh, but I just can’t imagine staying multiple nights in the same hotel – that is really not for me.

Extra Perks

My favorite part of travel are the unexpected perks and little upgrades and freebies along the way (no, I don’t mean hotel soaps and lotions – oh but I still collect them sometimes when they are really nice – but how many of these can a girl really use?).  I like the little things, like an extra bottle of water in my hotel room, or a fuzzy robe and slippers, or the radio on when I enter, a call from the front desk to check that everything is satisfactory, or chocolate truffles on my pillow – yum!  At dinner last night I was given an ocean view table, the waiter addressed me by name, and he treated me to a free dessert.  Occasionally I’ll get a snazzy complimentary upgrade on the flight, at a hotel, or in a rental car.  I especially love upgrades or token gifts that are unusual or surprising.  Last year for my birthday my regular taxi driver suggested a San Francisco restaurant to celebrate with my friends.  He made the reservation and arranged for gratis champagne waiting upon my arrival.  There are sacrifices for being away from home so often but I appreciate how the little gifts help keep things in balance and fun.

Fresh Fruit Basket
This free fruit basket was provided in my room at the Universal Studios Hilton in Los Angeles because I was staying there very often.
Perks at Doubletree
A Doubletree in Denver gave me some trail mix and cookies
to go with my free bottled waters.

Happy New Year everyone!  Here is to a 2010 filled with many exciting new destinations (or new looks at old ones through new hotels and restaurants to try) and many many perks along the way.  Leave a comment and let me know how you have been rewarded in your business travel or how you avoid slipping into a routine while out on the road.  Safe travels!

About The Author

The Lead CRA

Nadia started The Lead CRA blog in 2007. She is now lead author for ClinOps Toolkit. Nadia is currently working as a Clinical Program Manager at a small specialty pharmaceutical company in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can reach Nadia via email at leadcra@clinopstoolkit.com anytime.