How to Prepare for a Work Trip

DC Metro

I haven’t been back to Washington, D.C., home to my alma mater, since 2015. So, when a work event came up on the calendar, I jumped at the chance to head south and spend some time in the District that I once called home.

I haven’t attended many out-of-state work events prior to my current job, so I thought I would give a rundown of how I prepared myself—and what I will be packing.

1. Make sure your itinerary is set before you leave: This may seem obvious, but you wouldn’t believe all of the questions that I’ve pondered while packing. How will I get from the airport to the hotel? What if my flight is delayed and I get to the event late? I’ve even thought of questions like, “what’s considered an allowable expense when traveling?” I’ve always operated under the principle that it is better to be over-prepared than under, so I’ve made sure that all of my confirmations are printed out, in a safe place, and that the dates of my travel and stay are correct. If you use a different last name at work, such as a maiden name, make sure that you have the necessary identification in that name—and that all of your documents match up. Nothing could be worse than missing your flight because your ticket was under one name and your drivers license another.

2. Bring extra work clothes: Even though my trip to D.C. will be brief—and I know what I’m going to wear to the event—I still packed an extra set of event-appropriate attire. You never know when a sudden downpour (which is common in D.C.), could ruin your great idea of wearing those cute suede Vince Camuto heels with your black and white dress from Loft (yup, that’s what I’m actually planning to wear). Thus, it never hurts to bring a pair of black slacks along and a chic blouse.

3. Pack snacks: Work events can be fun, but they can also be tiring and stressful (read: leaving scant time for meals). I’ve learned to travel with granola bars at all times, and it is a must when I am going to be on the road for an extended period. I love Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Fiber Bars. They don’t have a tremendous amount of sugar, like others do, and they keep you satisfied. I recently tried an RXBAR in the peanut butter flavor and will be bringing those along to D.C. as well. With three egg whites and two dates per bar, they are almost a meal themselves.

4. Take your vitamins: You’ll need plenty of energy—and coffee—to make it through those 12+ hour days. Between time in the airport, flying, and then hitting the ground running, I always travel with a few packets of Emergen-C. Not only are they great for immune support, which you may need after flying, but with tons of B vitamins, they’ll keep you going strong. I’ll also be bringing a bag of Healthy Delights B-12 soft chews for times when I don’t have water handy (and cannot drink an Emergen-C). Packed with 2,500 mcg and tasting like a Starburst, it’s hard to stop at just one little gummy.

5. Explore (if time permits): Even though I lived in D.C., each time I go back I notice all of the changes that have taken place since I left. It’s interesting to see how neighborhoods have developed over time, but I am looking forward to returning to some of my familiar places. In D.C., Dolcezza in Georgetown, Cheoff Geoff’s, and Z Burger, are all tried and true favorites. On this visit, I hope to check out the cat cafe, Crumbs & Whiskers, and would love to hit up The Spy Museum, if there is time.

How do you prepare for a work trip?

Since I will be traveling, there will not be a post up this Friday. I hope you all have a great rest of the week and weekend!

Flashback Friday

Spring Flowers

This was another one of those weeks that felt endless. Anyone else with me? Despite almost daily trips to Starbucks, gorgeous spring weather, and lots of sweets (sorry, not sorry), I just couldn’t help but think, is it Friday yet?

This week also left me wondering about something else…time. Thanks to those Facebook reminders, last year around this time I was in Rhode Island. And the year before that, I was in San Francisco (actually, I toured Alcatraz on Easter back in 2015). As lovely as it was to be reminded of those trips, it also led me to notice how fast this year has gone. Can you believe it is mid-April already and tax time? I swear, it was January five minutes ago.

So while I may have wished the week away, here’s hoping that if you are lucky enough to have a three-day holiday weekend upon you, that time slows down a bit—even if only for the next 72 hours.

Happy Easter!

The April Agenda

April Flowers

It has come to my attention that I completely forgot about documenting my March agenda last month. Perhaps that’s partly because most of March was consumed with figuring out what constituted a low-iodine diet and in preparing for an I-131 whole body scan (which never happened due a snowstorm that hit the East Coast that week). So, yeah, March wasn’t exactly fun, nor did I feel very productive (but I was hungry for most of the month).

Since my health testing is temporarily on hold (through no choice of my own), I have decided to live it up a bit this month. With the weather improving daily, I want to spend more time outdoors and less time in front of my computer.

Here’s what’s on my agenda this month:

Go: I feel like I haven’t traveled much this year, so when I was asked to go on a work trip to Washington, D.C. at the end of the month, I jumped at the chance. Having spent two years going to college in D.C., I am always thrilled at the idea of returning—even if it is only for a day or two. While I won’t have much free time, I see a visit to American University and at least a couple of hours in the Georgetown neighborhood in my future.

Read: I have many books on my reading list, but sadly have not gotten to any of them. A fellow blogger recommended reading The Hopefuls, which happens to be set in Washington, D.C., and with my upcoming trip, it seems like the perfect read to bring along.

Try: I have wanted to try pilates for a while now as it is a nice complement to my yoga classes. So when a studio based in New York City and with locations in the Hamptons reached out to me on Instagram, I was elated. Unfortunately, with my busy schedule I have been unable to allot a day to driving an hour each way and taking a class, but now that the weather is nicer and the days are getting longer, I am ready to give it a go.

See: I never thought I would say this (and perhaps I’m too old to say this?), but I kind of want to see Beauty and the Beast. Is that wrong? I vaguely remember seeing it as a child, but after I heard the soundtrack on my way to work the other day, let’s just say my interest has been piqued. Have any of you seen it? Did you love it? I have been hearing good things.

Do: Two words—cat cafe. Yes, you read that correctly. I have been following Crumbs & Whiskers, a cat cafe based in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, for a while on Instagram. So you know I have to pay them a visit in person when I am in D.C. (trying not to take a cat home will be the hard part). To date, Crumbs & Whiskers has facilitated the adoption of 256 homeless cats, which is a mission I whole heartedly support. With every purchase from the cafe, a shelter pet is able to be fostered with Crumbs & Whiskers while they wait for a forever home. If you need a daily dose of cuteness, I highly suggest you follow them on Instagram.

What’s on your agenda this month?

How to Keep Your Home SimpliSafe

Travel Photography

What could be better than those glorious two weeks when you finally get to take your long awaited vacation? Making sure your home is safe, too, of course! If you follow me on social media, you may have seen that I was recently in Florida (Home Security Tip #1: Be careful about posting the dates that you will be away on social media). The days leading up to the trip were consumed with packingpacking…and more packing. But what about the house? Did I turn the stove off after making breakfast, unplug my flat iron, hold the mail, and close the garage door? These are all thoughts that flood my mind before I finally depart for my destination.

SimpliSafe is the modern day answer to home security. Long gone are the days of needing someone to install an alarm system in your home and paying high monthly fees for security. With SimpliSafe, your home’s system is wireless, easy to install, and affordable. You can also monitor your home from the convenience of a smartphone app.


If you worry about how to get your home ready before you leave, SimpliSafe is here to help with a handy checklist. I was pleased to read through it and notice that they suggested a lot of the things that are usually on my to-do list before a vacation, like mow the lawn, set some lights to a timer, and clean out the fridge. If only they could make food magically appear upon my return they’d truly be amazing!

I travel better knowing that my home is secured when I leave, although that doesn’t always stop me from questioning whether or not I unplugged everything (something I do even if I am only leaving my house for an hour!).

So how do I get my home travel ready? Here are my tips:

Make sure your central air or heat is set at an appropriate temperature: Nothing is worse than returning to your house in the dead of winter to find that a pipe burst. Remember to lower your thermostat before you leave, but keep it high enough to avoid the aforementioned pipe-bursting scenario (60 degrees is about where I leave mine).

Do laundry: You know when you get to a hotel and the sheets are nice and crisp? Well, that’s how I like them to be when I get home from a long trip. That first night with fresh sheets is the best. I always put clean sheets on the bed (and make sure any other laundry that’s laying around gets washed) before I set off for my vacation. Coming home to piles of laundry that need washing is not my ideal way to be welcomed home.

Arrange for a pet-sitter or boarding: If you have pets, this is probably one of the first things you think about when you start planning your vacation. Making arrangements for your four-legged family members is just as important as securing your home while you are away. If you will have a pet-sitter coming in to check on your critters, ensure that they are familiar with the house and comfortable with your pets well in advance of your travels. Also, make sure they know how to operate your alarm so it doesn’t go off accidentally.

Put sprinklers on a timer: Just like you check the weather in your local destination before you travel, keep an eye on the weather back at home. If there is rain every day in the forecast, perhaps those sprinklers don’t need to work so hard. Conversely, if it’s going to be 105 degrees, you might want to have them go on at set intervals to avoid coming home to a brown lawn. While this tip only applies to the summer months, if you are going away in winter and live somewhere that gets snow, you should arrange for someone to plow your driveway to make the house look lived-in.

Set your DVR to record your favorite shows: Okay, I know this tip doesn’t actually make your home more secure, but for me this is a biggie! Heaven forbid I miss an episode of my favorite show and I just might not be able to pick up the plot again. Kidding, of course. But I do like to come home and catch up with the shows that I missed so I can easily get back on track.

I worry about my house while I am away, so having a company like SimpliSafe to help give me peace of mind is most welcomed. If home security is as important to you as it is to me (and I believe that it is), check out SimpliSafe for all of your wireless home security needs.

What are some of your tips when it comes to securing your home while you’re away?

This post was in collaboration with SimpliSafe.

Monday Mantra: Be Open-Minded

Atlantic Beach, Florida

I’m back from Florida (and to my normal posting schedule this week). Last week was a whirlwind of new experiences for me — from driving two days down to Florida (which I highly recommend doing at least once in your life — you’ll even get to pass by the famous “South of the Border”), to exploring a new City, and finally feeling something I rarely feel when I travel…a desire to extend my stay (indefinitely?). While it’s good to get away, I’m usually excited to come home. But not this time. Have you ever been to Jacksonville? If you have, you know it is a beach lover’s and sun worshiper’s paradise!

I’ll be sharing more about my trip soon, but my time away reminded me of something that I often forget — the importance of being open-minded to new experiences. I like routine — I tend to go to the same places every summer, visit the same beaches, and head to the same events year after year. It’s easy to get complacent in the familiar, but it’s important to incorporate new adventures, which keep life interesting (and not to judge things and places before you see or try them in person). I knew little about Jacksonville before I visited last week. As a beach goer, I figured I would enjoy its proximity to the water. It’s located on the East Coast in Northern Florida, just a short drive over the border after Georgia. The one thing that struck me almost immediately was how friendly the people were and how much there was to do (I highly recommend the St. John’s Town Center, if you’re into shopping).

This trip has encouraged me to think of ways I can be more open-minded in my day-to-day life. Whether it’s a travel destination you never thought of visiting or a coffee shop that just opened that you’ve wanted to try, remember to be receptive to new excursions.

What are some ways that you practice open-mindedness in your own life?

Florida Fun

Hello again, from Florida! As I write this post, I’m sitting on what just may be the largest balcony I’ve ever seen, watching the palm trees gently blowing in the breeze. Not bad, right? It may be harder than I initially thought to leave and return to New York in just a couple of days. This time, my travel will consist of a short flight (and not an 18-hour car ride). One thing I learned during this trip is that the Florida sun doesn’t mess around. This sun worshiper was no match for the intense rays (actually, I didn’t even try laying out by the pool–it was just too hot). But I still squeezed in some summer rest and relaxation!

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Welcome to Florida

{Welcome to Florida}


{Making friends with the locals}

Cinnamon Roll French Toast

{Cinnamon Roll French Toast at Mimi’s — A.K.A The best brunch…ever}

Florida Sunset

{Florida Sunset}

Palm Trees

{Palm trees at night}

I hope you have a great weekend. I’ll be back to my regular Monday to Friday posting schedule next week!

Sunny Summer Style

Mossimo Strapless Dress

After 18 hours in the car (and nine states and one District later), I have arrived in sunny Florida. If you’ve been following my journey on Instagram and Snapchat (@livinginsteil), you’ve probably seen all of the travel snaps I took along the way (don’t worry — more will be coming, soon).

Mossimo Strapless Dress

There was so much to do before I left New York that scheduling my posts this week never happened (#bloggerfail). So here I am, with an outfit post from Florida. To say it’s been hot and humid down here is an understatement. I wore one of my favorite summer dresses from Mossimo the other day in an effort to combat the heat. While I wish I could be lounging by the pool, my days have been filled with tons of errands. This simple strapless number, which is an oldie but goodie, was the perfect partner to beat the August humidity while still looking chic. Plus, the dress pairs nicely with my Sam Edelman sandals (which have gotten quite the workout since I purchased them). If you don’t have a simple strapless staple for summer, run to your nearest Target and check out Mossimo’s selection. This dress is so comfy that I recently bought a second one in a different print (but this one is still my favorite).

Mossimo Strapless Dress

{This chambray shirt from Mossimo is perfect for braving the AC!}

Mossimo Strapless Dress

Mossimo Strapless Dress

I’ll be back on Friday with new content. See you then!

Day Trip: Montauk, New York

Montauk, NY

Sometimes you just need to get away for a day. That’s exactly what I did yesterday, as the car got packed for a little road trip. I didn’t stray off Long Island, but being a mere 50 miles away from my town and familiar sights made all of the difference.

Montauk, NY

This week we had a heat wave, and I tried my best to keep cool by taking a dip in a pool or heading to the beach. And since I love Long Island’s East End, once the pool and beach had been crossed off my list, a trip out East was in order.

Apparently, everyone else had the same idea, and the traffic was brutal for mid-day on a Thursday (actually, the road congestion in these parts will be brutal all summer long from now until Labor Day!). So I braved the heat and the traffic, and after way too long in the car, arrived in Montauk.

Montauk Lighthouse

The weather looked threatening all day, and combined with the oppressive heat, Montauk was covered in a thick blanket of fog. The famed Montauk Lighthouse was barely visible from the road, which made the view less spectacular than normal.

The Gig Shack, Montauk, NY

After a quick lunch at The Gig Shack (the colossal shrimp skewers were excellent), it was off to Sag Harbor, just west of Montauk. You may remember that I’ve posted about Sag Harbor before (you can catch up here), but the quaint town is one of my favorites to visit. There are tons of cute local shops, great places to eat, and incredible yachts to see.

Sag Harbor, NY

Muse in the Harbor, Montauk, NY

Muse in the Harbor, Montauk, NY

On this visit, I tried a restaurant called Muse in the Harbor. The ambiance was nice and the dining area featured a large fish tank that can be mesmerizing. I ordered the scallop mac and cheese, which was every bit as good as I hoped it would be.

In the evening, the rain finally came and cooled things down a bit. Here’s hoping for clear skies this weekend — and slightly cooler temps.

Farewell, April!

I'd rather be sleeping mug

{New mug for my home office}

I’m having a hard time comprehending how we are already at the end of April! Wasn’t it just January five minutes ago? Looking back, I’ve crammed a lot into the last two months. With trips to Philadelphia, Rhode Island, and New York City, I feel like I’ve taken full advantage of the nice spring weather.

This weekend it’s back to my kickboxing routine, some time at the barn, and a little rest and relaxation.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Spring mani with OPI

{Spring mani with OPI}


{Meeting with fellow New York blogger, Kristin}

Barn Day

{Life on the farm}

New workout outfit

{Today’s workout is sponsored by coffee!}

Cupcake pancakes from IHOP

{Delicious cupcake pancakes from IHOP}

Follow me on Instagram to keep up with all of my musings!

Monday Mantra: Sleep Less and Dream More

Monday Mantra:  Sleep Less and Dream More

Happy Monday, friends! If you follow me on Snapchat and Instagram, you know how much I’m missing my cozy hotel room and beautiful chandelier at The Omni in Providence, Rhode Island now that I’m back at home. It was nice to spend a few days away again and take in a new city. I hadn’t been to Rhode Island in fifteen years — and I never made it to Providence before this trip. I’ll be sharing more later in the week about where to go for the perfect breakfast and what to do in the area, so stay tuned!

As I was reflecting on my trip (man, those few days went by fast) and all of the things I want to accomplish as we start the new week, something struck me. I’ve never been a morning person — I actually despise mornings. Why would I want to get up when my bed is so comfy? I’ve read a plethora of articles about how to train yourself to wake up earlier — and I’ve tried all of the tips. I justify my ‘I don’t do mornings’ stance by believing that there have to be people who are just not cut out for mornings. Perhaps I am one of those people. Nothing wrong with that.

But when I travel, I do manage to wake up early (well, “early” by my standards). The days feel longer, I feel more energized (maybe that’s just the additional cups of coffee I’m able to squeeze in), but most importantly, I can accomplish a lot more during my day. You may be reading this thinking, “Vanessa, I hope it didn’t take you long to make this realization.” No, thankfully it did not.

The incisive question here is this: how do you make every day feel like a vacation? What makes you excited to get out of bed, throw some clothes on, and start your day? The answer will be different for everyone. But I predict that when you can answer this question, mornings will look a whole lot different to you. Maybe instead of dreading what you have to do, you will start looking forward to what you can do with the day.

One way to do this that I’ve found helpful is to schedule something you enjoy first thing in the morning. It could be coffee with a friend before work, or a fitness class. By ensuring this is the first thing you do after you wake up, you’ll be more likely to want to get out of bed and get moving. For me, I enjoy starting my day off at a quaint coffee shop (but Starbucks will do just fine), while I sip my coffee and people-watch. My productivity level in the morning isn’t super high, so reading and commenting on other blogs is about all I can expect to accomplish in the early hours.

Whether your morning starts at 6 am or more like 9:30-ish, your outlook on the morning dictates your day. So when you’re tempted to hit snooze for the twentieth time and go back to sleep, take a deep breath, get up and tell yourself “you’ve got this!”

Are you a morning person? I’d love to hear what motivates you to get out of bed and start your day!