Reflections on travel from staff completing first year of site visits

CEPH's newest accreditation specialists, Ali DiOrio, Deja Jennings, and Olivia Luzzi, recently completed their first year of site visits. 
With another site visit season about to get underway, they share some of their memorable experiences and travel tendencies.

What is your best story or craziest experience from the road?

Olivia: I just love the opportunity to get to see other cities, and in some cases, meet up with friends whom I would not normally get to see. I’ve been able to meet up with friends in Chicago and Philly. I was also able to go to a concert in Waco, TX at the Magnolia Silos for the “Silobration.” (Hi, Fixer Upper fans!)

My craziest travel experience definitely comes from my trip out of Waco, TX. We were at a two-gate airport with very small planes and during take-off, we struck a flock of birds (sorry, birds)! We had to land again at the Waco airport, but by that time all of the TSA agents had left until the next flight, eight hours later. We couldn’t leave the airport and they only had a vending machine with drinks. I ended up being stuck in that airport for six and a half hours with only apple juice. When I got to Dallas, I stuffed my face!

Ali: I flew through St. Louis to get to southern Illinois and had to go on a 10-seater airplane. It was a particularly windy day so the plane was going up and down like a roller-coaster. I was sitting behind the pilot gripping the seat in front of me trying not to go into a complete panic. A lovely lady sitting next to me talked to me to distract me through the 45-minute flight. You never know who you will meet and how kind they will be!

On that same visit, I stayed the night in St. Louis before heading home and met some locals who showed me a bar where I could stand on the balcony and watch the Cardinals game live. It was so cool! I guess another it's story about never knowing who you will meet or experiences you will have while traveling if you are open to it.

Deja: Once I get to the site visit, I most enjoy the team dinners. It gives the team the opportunity to build a rapport. The second team dinner always seems better to me because people seem to be more comfortable. 

My craziest experience so far was on my way back from Bethune-Cookman in Daytona Beach, FL. There was a torrential downpour in the mid-Atlantic on my way back to DC. We ended up having to hover over Richmond, VA to wait it out because we couldn't land in DC. The turbulence was horrible!

What have you learned about your travel style in the last year?

Olivia: This may be something that everyone who has traveled for business already does, but I have my routine down for the moment I get to my hotel room, no matter how late I might get in. First, I unpack all of my clothes and I unpack all of my toiletries. I then lay all of my toiletries out for that night and the next morning and I iron all of my clothes and hang them up. When the first executive session begins, things go from 0 to 60 and it is so nice to have everything already set out and ironed so that I don’t even have to think about it.

Ali: I agree that efficiency is key! I've figured out my preferred airports. Washington National is my favorite because security is quicker and I don’t have to get to the airport as early. I also pack all my toiletries and electronics in the same bag to make going through security easier. If I pack efficiently, I do not ever have to check a bag and worry about it getting lost or not arriving on time.

Deja: I prefer to travel early in the morning in order to check into the hotel and get to see the surrounding area or to take a nap before delving into work. 

Olivia:  I used to think that I had to get to the airport really early. Now that I have been to enough different airports, I know the sweet spot of when I need to leave my house/hotel to get to the airport in time to get through security and grab a coffee but also not sit too long at the gate. I also highly recommend a hard-sided, four-wheeled carry-on as it is so much easier to walk through the airport with that. I also ordered these vacuum sealing space-saver bags that you roll the air out of, and that allows me to pack different clothing options while still keeping my luggage to just a carry-on.