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Productivity Consultant at Organize For Success, LLC...
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Monday, May 22, 2017

Countdown to Memorial Day: Ashley Christensen’s Travel Tips

Spring has sprung, and summer's unofficial start on Memorial Day is only one week away! As temperatures rise, I find that travel planning increases so this is the eighth in my series of interviews highlighting frequent travelers. We're covering their preferences and best practices, giving you takeaways to try for your next trip.

Ms. Ashley Christensen
This week, I am pleased to share my interview with Ashley Christensen, who is the chef and proprietor of the six entities within the AC Restaurants group: Beasley's Chicken + Honey, Bridge Club, Chuck's Burgers + Frites, Death & Taxes, Fox Liquor Bar and, her original, Poole's Diner, where the Macaroni Au Gratin is life-changing. Since moving from our shared hometown of Kernersville and making Raleigh her home, Ms. Christensen has sought to foster community through food, philanthropy and the stimulation of the city's downtown neighborhood. She focuses much of her time outside the kitchen with a number of charities, including the Frankie Lemmon School & Development Center, Raleigh's Contemporary Art Museum, the Downtown Raleigh Alliance and the Southern Foodways Alliance. Ms. Christensen's work has garnered national attention from various print publications as well as the Food Network and MSNBC; plus, she was awarded the very prestigious James Beard Award for "Best Chef: Southeast" in 2014. Click here to purchase her first cookbook, Poole's: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner, and, then, visit this site to learn more about all that Ms. Christensen has accomplished or is currently doing. With the work she does nationwide and beyond, there is much traveling in her life so read on for Ms. Christensen's many travel insights to use over your next adventure.

EP: Do you travel mainly for business, pleasure or both?

AC: Mainly for business, but my business is also pretty packed with pleasure-filled experiences. I'm in the hospitality industry so most of my trips are rounded out with adventure in food and all the different ways in which hospitality can be expressed.

EP: Do you prefer traveling via plane, train, boat or automobile?

AC: I travel mostly by plane. I really like to take the train, but there are few situations where I have the time or where the route to my destination is available. I don't care much for driving as I like to make the most of my travel time by working and researching on my laptop or iPad.

EP: What is your favorite destination and why?

AC: Rome... It's an amazing place filled with such rich history and incredible food. When I'm there, I just like to imagine that I live there, finding the perfect cafe in whatever neighborhood I'm staying in for a morning espresso or an afternoon Aperol Spritz.

EP: What is your preference for airlines?

AC: I fly Delta. I love their frequent flyer programs and airport lounges. When I'm on a layover, I can sit in the lounge and catch up on work while enjoying the free Internet, decent coffee, snacks and a complimentary bar. These trimmings take the stress out of the occasional delayed flight or long layover. Also, from RDU, I can fly direct to Paris. That's pretty cool!

EP: What is your preference for hotels or accommodations?

AC: When traveling, I like to stay in hotels for the most part. Whenever it's an option, my preference is the 21C Museum Hotel. They're a great group; I love their support of contemporary art.

EP: Do you book your own travel or prefer a travel agency?

AC: I book my own, with the occasional assistance of American Express' Platinum Services Travel Team.

EP: Do you have any suggestions for making the most of loyalty programs or points?

AC: I use my American Express (AmEx) points to buy Delta tickets. I have all of my AmEx points from the businesses pour into one Membership Rewards account; then, when I buy flights, I still get Medallion Qualifying Miles, which I wouldn't get by buying with Delta miles. Instead, I use my miles for an end-of-year trip. I encourage everyone to compare which of their options gives the greatest benefit. I have a Membership Rewards AmEx and a Delta AmEx. I get miles and points from the Delta AmEx so it kind of doubles down.

EP: Are you loyal to any particular brands?

AC: I love Kiehl's, Apple, Tito's vodka and Vans shoes.

EP: When flying, what do you ensure is in your carry-on?

AC: Mild face wash + lotion, one BandAid, a small mending kit, floss, toothbrush, sensitive toothpaste, peppermint mouthwash and my favorite orange flower-based fragrance from Le Labo.

EP: Do you keep an extra bag of toiletries packed?

AC: Absolutely. I have 2 each of all of my basic stuff, including make-up.

EP: How do you organize your time while on-the-go?

AC: I organize my travel and busy times as much as possible, but I always leave a little room to be in the moment. I try not to make too many appointments in one day, and I don't partake in meetings longer than 2 hours; in anything longer than that, I find that I lose focus and effectiveness around the 2-hour point.

EP: What tools or tactics do you use to keep your accommodations organized while traveling?

AC: I have an awesome assistant who does this for me. We use Google Calendar, and we just load as many details as possible in a consistent format.

EP: Do you use technology to help stay productive and organized? If so, what's your favorite program, app, website or tech tool for surviving the chaos of daily life? And what's your favorite for being your best while traveling?

AC: Google Calendar is what I access most consistently. As a company, we use Basecamp for company-wide communication. Technology moves and changes so quickly these days so we're always keeping our ear to the ground on what tools might be helpful to us, but we tend to make those kinds of platform changes slowly and only after lots of careful vetting.

EP: Across all your travels, which restaurant did you enjoy most, why was it your favorite and what was the best food?

AC: Of all the places I've been in the world, I'd have to say the FIG in Charleston makes the top of my list. I'm not a fan of picking favorites (it just feels limiting), but I think about that place a lot. It's timeless, classic and delicious... truly a living, breathing and constantly evolving place. I just love it. As for the best food there in the moment... Whatever they put in front of you!

EP: If you could have one super power to make traveling (or life in general) a little better, what would it be?

AC: I think I would want to freeze time... Simply to be able to catch my breath every now and then when life is flying by.

Thanks for sharing so many excellent tidbits, Ms. Christensen!

Readers, do your preferences mirror hers? Do you use any of the tools or hacks that she's mastered over her countless travels? Which tip do you plan to implement in the future?

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