Welcome to my Inspired By Q&A numero 4! There's one more coming for you next week, for this round of interviews. This week, I'm beyond excited to share Leslie Tobin's take on travel. Leslie is one of my best friends in the world! We were each other's bridesmaids, college roommates, and have gone on numerous weekend trips together. She's an inspiration to me way beyond travel, because she's a total #girlboss and is constantly setting herself and achieving some pretty crazy goals over and over. She's an amazing friend and a pretty awesome human, so I'm excited to share her with all of you today!
For the Inspired By series, I've been trying to diversify the types of people I'm interviewing, because I'm inspired by different people for different reasons of course! My goal was to share a range of travelers with various angles and strengths. Leslie is my go-to points guru and for all tips around corporate travel. While she travels a ton for pleasure, she also travels a lot for work. She has a unique take on traveling for work, how work travel can sometimes burn you out, how to make the most of your work trips to combine them with personal travel, and how to best stay loyal to airlines/hotels so you can maximize your points to travel MORE! In fact, like us, Leslie and her husband just became expats & moved to London with a transfer through their companies.
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Q: How many countries have you been to? What’s been your favorite destination so far?
A: I've actually been to more than 20 countries, but many of those were when I was young, so I don't remember them all!
I'm not sure I have a favorite, but right now I'm daydreaming of Italy, where my husband and I spent a month for our honeymoon. It’s so diverse - from rich history in Florence and Rome, to incredible wine in Tuscany, and the BEST beaches along the Amalfi coast. Plus, cheese, bread, and pasta - what more do you need??
Q: Do you have a bucket list? If so, what are the top 5 items on it?
A: Kind of - I'm a really goal oriented person, so it's more a list of goals than a bucket list. It's ever changing and growing, but top of the list right now are:
Travel to 20 NEW countries over the next three years
Learn another language (thinking French!)
Backpack in Patagonia
Run another maraton
Become a VP at my company by the time I'm 40
Totally doable right? :)
Q: As an avid work traveler, what advice do you have for combining work trips with pleasure to maximize your time off?
A: If I'm going somewhere fun for work, I try to book meetings for Tuesday's or Thursday's so that I can take a three day weekend around the work trip! It not only helps me to maximize my time off, it also allows me to save money as work will cover the round-trip flight. The first few times I did this I felt guilty, like shouldn't have any fun if I'm traveling for work. But over time I've realized that I'm able to sustain my hectic schedule by also being sure to find time for myself and to do the things I love. So as long as I'm not costing the company any excess $$$, it shouldn't matter!
Q: What are your best strategies to credit card points & flight upgrades?
A: How much time do you have? :)
When I first started my career, I worked with a few ex consultants who were points fenatics, and I thought it was all such a silly game. Turns out, it's NOT. If you stay consistent when you travel by sticking with the same airline (I fly United) and hotel programs (I used to be SPG loyal, but have recently switched to hotels.com), the points will add up quickly. If you're an avid traveler, I'd also recommend getting a travel credit card such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve. They're pricey, but the high point return is well worth it.
I’ve accumulated over 1M points from all of my work travel over the past six years, which equates to more than ten roundtrip flights to Europe in premium economy (or five if I feel like treating myself to first class! 😉)
Q: How do you research what to see and where to eat + drink when planning your trips?
A: Usually a combination of Lonely Planet articles, TripAdvisor reviews, and asking for recommendations from those who've visited before! I'm a huge fan of the review aggregation sites as i think you can find hidden gems that aren't as packed (or overpriced) as the places featured in travel books!
Q: Where are you traveling next and how did you decide that spot?
A: We are going to Barcelona the first weekend in May! My husband has never been, so we decided to take a five day weekend for his birthday. We recently moved to London, and it's a lot rainier than California, so we're looking forward to soaking in the sun for a few days! ☀️ Were planning to explore the city, do some hiking, and rent a boat and go swimming in the Mediterranean.
Q: Where can we find you?