Road Warrior Recess: Adventures in Business Travel
Quick–how many drops of dew are sitting on the leaf in the photo hung over every toilet in every Courtyard Marriott in America?
Can you answer that question? And if so, can you answer it because A. you can see it in your head or B. because you walked seven steps to your left and looked up at that exact same photo hanging in your Courtyard Marriott bathroom? No matter–either way, if you were able to answer it, you have officially entered…The Business Travel Zone.
*Cue creepy music*
For those of you who are wondering, the answer is: six and a half. See?
You will note that I included a statement on how I feel about the leaf-and-dew art in that photograph–which I took mere moments ago by walking seven steps to my left and entering my Courtyard Marriott bathroom. I may or may not be wearing pants at the moment. You decide what you would do if you were spending yet another evening in a business-travel hotel. (You’d not be wearing pants and you know it.)
To be fair, I don’t hate Courtyard Marriotts. Quite the opposite really. I will go significantly out of my way to stay at a Marriott property. You know, because points. And status. And truth be told, I love mid-range business class hotels. They provide everything I need–convenient parking, functional wifi, and sometimes a mini-fridge for all of my GrubHub chicken-and-broccoli leftovers. You know what I’m talking about. Oh yes. You do.
But I do hate the leaf-art. And more, I hate what the leaf-art stands for: routine. Consistency. The bland-ification of travel. When you travel for work on a regular basis, everything begins to look the same. I stayed in a Fairfield Inn in Ithaca, NY last month that looked exactly like the Fairfield Inn River North in Chicago. In this way, frequent business travel can become tedious. Monotonous. Dull.
But it doesn’t have to!
Which is why I bring to you: Road Warrior Recess.
What is Road Warrior Recess?
Road Warrior Recess isn’t a blog series. This is mostly because I’m really bad at continuing to compose series-posts (see also: every single other series I started that died, including but not limited to that thing about restaurants and the thing with the alleys.) No–Road Warrior Recess is a community. Well ok, right now it’s a Facebook group. The purpose of Road Warrior Recess is:
to encourage frequent business travelers to take the time to explore the area they are visiting, even when under extreme time constraints.
I get it. When you are traveling for work you are working. I am too. I did it for years–and I’m doing it again now (AND I AM SO STUPID HAPPPY TO BE BACK!) And in all of my business traveling, I’ve gained a frightening new understanding of the concept of busy. But I’d say that in perhaps 80% of my work travels, I’ve had at least one hour of free time each day. Yet I spent a lot of those free hours in my underpants in my Courtyard Marriott room.
But it doesn’t have to be that way!
I maintain the following to be true: no matter where you are in the world, there’s something interesting, quirky, or novel within a thirty minute walk or drive. And my challenge to you is: find that thing. Spend a half hour getting there and a half hour getting back and one minute looking at it, and you’ve spent that free hour doing something more than sitting in your underpants in a chain hotel.
I’ll share my today-adventure below, and every future adventure on that Facebook group I mentioned earlier. And I encourage you to do the same. Come, join me on social media, and share iPhone photos, short stories, and screen shots from your business travel adventures. Anything that gets you out of the Marriott* counts–even if you only have the energy to find a local park or nail salon.
*You might not be in a Marriott. You might be a Hilton person. If so, all of this also applies to you of course. But I have to ask–what kind of monster are you? Seriously, what’s up with the Hilton rewards program? I lived in a Hampton Inn for three months and it earned me two measly free nights at a cruise-port-adjacent hotel in Fort Lauderdale. What the hell, Hilton?
Road Warrior Recess Day One: Chuang Yen Monastery
I found Chuang Yen Monastery on Google Maps. As I often do when I’m traveling somewhere new-ish, I explore Google Maps and see if there are any intriguing green spaces. I like green spaces. But for some reason, Google Maps chose to put a little dot on Chuang Yen Monastery, which led me to Google Chuang Yen Monastery, which led me to go to Chuang Yen Monastery. Really, this whole adventure is brought to you by the good, overworked people at Google.
And what Google taught me is that Chuang Yen Monastery is home to the largest indoor statue of Buddha in the western hemisphere. I visited the Buddha statue, though I didn’t take photos of it because it was housed in a supremely calm building in which actual monks were cleaning out actual incense burners, so it felt wrong to take a photo. Also, if you want to see a photo of the giant Buddha, you can…Google it.
What experience taught me is that visiting a Buddhist monastery on a business trip is a really good idea, and that yes, said monastery really is open to the public, and that if you are driving too fast on 301 east you will pass the Chuang Yen Monastery and it will be a good long while until there’s somewhere to turn around.
If you are a frequent business traveler–or even just someone intrigued by the idea of frequent business travel–please consider joining my Road Warrior Recess Facebook Group. Also please consider trying to say ‘road warrior recess‘ three times fast. It’s harder than you’d think.