By: Vanessa Solesbee, Kimley-Horn
I travel a lot for work and I mean, a lot, a lot. Sometimes frequent travel has its perks – for instance, as I write this blog, I’m sitting on a plane headed to the sunny beaches of Waikiki for a project site visit. However, sometimes I’m homesick before the plane even takes off, especially after welcoming my first kiddo. I’ve been spending some time thinking about how to “reframe” the love/hate relationship that I have with always being “on the go” and I’d like to share a little lightning bolt of inspiration that struck me on a particularly long flight last fall.
As parking and transportation professionals, we are so fortunate to have access to countless “living laboratories” regardless of where we live or how much we do or do not travel. Throughout my years of travel, both around the world and right in my own backyard in Colorado, I’ve always made a point to try something new or outside of my comfort zone. It’s just something that I’ve always done and now I’d like to make that my challenge to each of you: make the decision to be a first-timer again.
- Visit that restaurant you’ve been wanting to try across town
- Take a different mode of transportation to work
- Pick up a friend from the airport
- Visit a college campus with your high-schooler
- Take Uber or Lyft on date night
See what the signage is like, how the parking is laid out and what other options besides driving did you have to get there besides driving? Was there someone to help you if needed or instructions on where to find help? Was there an app or website to help you plan your trip before leaving home and if so, how user-friendly and intuitive was it?
Want to get really crazy? Find a friend or “volunteer” your spouse and check out your own parking system; use your local app to pay, park in a spot other than your regular location or visit a neighboring town or district that you’ve heard so much about. Get your friend and/or spouse to give you their take on what they experienced. We see our own “problem areas” so frequently that our brains literally do not see them anymore.
The experience of being a frequent first-timer gives us a way to constantly “reset” our assumptions and routines. It adds richness and complexity to the stories we tell and conversations with have with customers, clients, co-workers and staff. It also regularly reminds us what an integral role we play in creating inviting, livable and connected places that everyone, even first-timers, can enjoy. Wheels up!