How to Network When You Are Traveling

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This month I was invited to take a trip out to New York with my good friend, and of course I jumped at the opportunity! I like to make traveling and experiencing new things a priority in my life; I love to explore new cities, meet the locals, and feel the vibes! Freelancing has really opened up my schedule to allow for more travel, which is one of my favorite freelancer perks! Because I have just started my venture into running my own business, I started looking for ways I can make my trip an important move for my design business. Here’s what I found worked out for me:

1. Utilize local connections to find opportunities to network.

I have been working with Madison’s local Freelancers Union reps to coordinate and promote the Freelancers Union Spark events. It’s been really fun to get to know Madison’s local freelancer scene, and because Spark events happen all over the country, I was excited to attend the October event in Manhattan. In addition to learning some new things on contract writing, legal issues and non-payment resolution, I also got to connect with the NYC Freelancers Union coordinators. They offered up some tips on getting more people to attend Madison’s events, and they were generous enough to send me home with some Freelancers Union t-shirts for my fellow Madison reps!

2. Find and visit businesses like yours that you can learn from.

I made a point to visit the Cotton Candy Machine, a shop in Brooklyn that’s run by one of my favorite artists, Tara McPherson. This has been a goal of mine for several years, because the Cotton Candy Machine is exactly the kind of small business that I believe in supporting. They run art shows frequently, featuring artists of various fields and selling their work and merchandise. The creative community that has been cultivated in Brooklyn was super inspiring! I was sad to learn that they will be closing at the end of the year, but I was glad to see it in person while I still could.

3. Make time for fun things that will inspire your business.

Exploring the Metropolitan Museum of Art was a great way to remind myself of my creative background and my love for the creative process. Walking through those halls observing the intricate scarab carvings of ancient Egypt, the ornamental sculptures of south Asian deities, and the incredibly detailed American mosaic fountains cued up feelings of nostalgia. Nostalgia for the many art history courses I had taken during my studies, which were such a source of inspiration. The chance to view artifacts of such historical significance and gain perspective on the role of creativity in various cultures encourages me to work even harder to benefit others through my own creativity.

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Of course, there are many ways to get yourself out there and build your business while traveling. It’s also important to take a break from your business goals and take advantage of some away time! I look forward to learning and writing more on this subject, as there are so many places I am eager to travel to. Making travel a bigger part of my business is a dream of mine, and I would love to have more opportunities to grow my network.

Solo Traveling on a Budget :: Part 1

To me, one of the most liberating experiences is taking off on a solo travel venture. You pick the destination, you pick how you get there, and you pick what you do once you’re there and when you do those things. Traveling with friends and family is a lot of fun, of course, but traveling styles don’t always mesh so well, and travel tensions can cause unnecessary irritability. Enjoying your own company and allowing yourself to really experience your own self is really important to self realization.

Ask anyone who’s allowed me to talk their ear off about my travel experiences, and they’ll all tell you one thing for sure: I am a HUGE advocate for the idea that solo traveling is a catalyst for self discovery and personal exploration. Traveling on your own is DEFINITELY scary to think about, but there are so many amazing experiences and lessons that you will undoubtedly gain from it. In fact, many people have embarked on their own solo travels, so much that The idea can be especially daunting if your upbringing lacked family trips and vacations, but do not fear- I am here to help! Whether you’re just jumping into solo traveling or you’ve been around the block – err, globe- a few times, This blog series will help you map out your next solo trip!

Just a note: While luxurious vacations and camping trips are super fun, this series mainly focuses around traveling to urban or metropolitan areas within North America. This is where I have the most experience and feel comfortable advising others, but if this series goes well, I will definitely consider bringing on some guest writers who can share their experiences in other travel styles and continents!

First topic on the agenda:
Destination & Mode of Transportation
Pick a destination/transportation within your means. As much as some of us would love to throw a dart at a map and just GO, global travel gets really expensive, really fast! If you can swing that financially, by all means go for it (And take me with you!?)! But you don’t have to go across the globe and spend heaps of money to experience a brand new place. Maybe a half day Greyhound ride is all you require to get to foreign territory. Depending on your budget and the amount of time you can devote to your trip, I say the further, the better! Pick a place that is at least somewhat urban so you have lots of opportunities to try new things and explore a wide variety of what that city has to offer.

Depending on how far you’re traveling, there are a few different options for mode of transportation. When I lived in the Pacific Northwest, I LOVED that a completely different city was only a day long bus ride (or less!) away. I’ve actually made a life long friend on a bus from Seattle to Vancouver, BC after chatting for the entire 4 hour ride! Some destinations will require air travel, which personally I get REALLY excited about! There’s just something about the hustle and bustle of a crowded airport that gets me going. All those people on their way to somewhere, in the midst of a trip or an adventure, I can’t help but get excited for them! I know not everyone feels that way, and getting through security can be a little nerve wracking, so here are a few tips to get you through smoothly:

:: Mariah Liisa’s Tips for TSA ::

•Be ready to take off belts, large metal jewelry, jackets (And usually sweatshirts or over-shirts too) and your shoes. I usually slip my shoes off and hold them while I’m still in line.

•Have easy access to your laptop, as you’ll have to pull that out and put it in it’s own bin.

•Don’t forget to leave liquids behind. Even a bottle of water won’t get through. I’ve been guilty of chugging my water at the last minute! Many liquid items are available for purchase beyond security.


•Pack you items in a somewhat organized fashion, so if you end up needing to pull something out from the bottom before you get through security you don’t have to re-pack your entire luggage. Packing cubes and camping sacks can help with this!

•If you have any question about whether or not an item will get through security, LEAVE IT! Tools like pliers or multi-tools, scissors, Swiss army knives, obviously any kind of weapon (Including pepper spray and self defense items) will be confiscated. The TSA actually has an Instagram account where you can see all the crazy things people try to sneak on! Basically just DON’T BE A DUMMY! Believe it or not though, knitting needles and small sewing scissors are indeed allowed on in your carry on

What kind of travel topics would you like to see featured in the rest of this series? Any particular questions? Post them in the comments below!