The Business Traveler's Guide to Unwavering Happiness - Christine Kane

Much of a business traveler’s time is spent reacting or responding. “Annoying Thing A” happens. And “Business Traveler B” decides what to do. Some days can seem like a constant impetus/response/impetus/response pattern. Some of us even get good at it. Some of us pride ourselves on our inner peace in spite of Annoying Things A, B and C. (I think some people love to travel because they rarely have to decide things proactively. Their next move is always dictated by something outside of them.)

But think about this: even if we learn how to respond rather than react, even if we learn how to breathe “in spite of,” or even if we “go with the flow,” then we’re still reacting to something.

That’s why what you choose to do in your non-reacting time is a key to unwavering happiness in travel. That’s why it’s good to do some proactivity when you can. Being proactive or creative renews our relationship to our own power. It realigns us and makes us more peaceful and much happier.

Here is a guide filled with proactive tips for the business traveler (or any traveler, really) who seeks unwavering happiness…

Business Travel Tip #1 – Practice Extreme Self-Care

Extreme self-care doesn’t mean that you head to a spa in your spare time. It means you go to sleep when you’re tired. It means you pull off at the next exit when you have to pee. It means you allow a little extra time to get places.

Travel takes energy. And when people don’t practice extreme self-care in healthy ways, they start to reach for it in unhealthy ways. They eat hub-cap-sized plates of pasta and lard, claiming they “deserve it.” They drink more alcohol. They watch TV to numb the fatigue. This isn’t self-care. This is self-medicating. One is pro-active. The other is reactive.

Business Travel Tip #2 – Join Audible.com

Many years ago, I decided to turn my vehicle into a “school.” I joined audible.com. I downloaded and listened to books on business, marketing, life-coaching, and spirituality. (And lots of Carl Hiassen too!) Not only have I learned an enormous amount, but it has made a huge difference in how I show up for a performance after I drive. Audible.com has all the books on tape you could want. You can get a yearly or monthly membership. (I recommend the yearly because you only have to pay once for 12 books.) FYI, Audible has “The Secret” audiobook for much less than everywhere else. But you have to be a member to get the discounts. (Click on the link below to see the different options.) If you have an iPod, then you’ll love Audible.com.

Business Travel Tip #3 – Be your own gatekeeper

In The Master Key System – the book that reportedly inspired Bill Gates to quit Harvard and begin building his dreams – Charles Haanel writes that the conscious mind has to act as a guardian of the subconscious mind…

The conscious mind ought to be on duty during every waking hour. When the “watchman” is “off guard,” or when its calm judgment is suspended, under a variety of circumstances, then the subconscious mind is unguarded and left open to suggestion from all sources.

Travelers are inundated with suggestions. Ads, billboards, slogans, logos, messages, headlines, muzak, and televisions. Most are unavoidable. But I have learned to guard my mind carefully, to find quiet places in airports, focus on happy children rather than Fox News, and simply not read banner ads. When I am my own gatekeeper, I travel happier.

Business Travel Tip #4 – Bring your knitting

All I know is this: knitters, crocheters, and crafters rarely seem to get pissed off when plans change. They just keep knitting! And besides, they left very happy comments in my post about airline delays.

Business Travel Tip #5 – Segment Intend

I keep writing about this because it works. Before any new segment in my day (getting on a plane, getting on the tour bus, going through tech rehearsal, doing the performance) I intend clarity, fun, joy, and ease for that next segment. (Sometimes I clearly state the desired result – i.e., “Finish the first verse of this song.”) Try it. You’ll be surprised how it determines the outcome of the event. Even if it’s something small – like a subway ride – start by intending how you want that ride to go. The more you do it, the more you’ll delight in its effectiveness. (Read more about this in the Abraham-Hicks book, Ask and It is Given.)

Business Travel Tip #6 – Arm yourself with a good affirmation

Create an affirmation. Something simple and easy to remember. Say it often. Say it when you’re waiting in line. Say it when the plane gets delayed. Use it to center yourself. Challenge yourself to say it a thousand times in one day.

Business Travel Tip #7 – Be the last person to board the plane

When the gate agent calls the Zones, let everyone else race to be in the caterpillar pillar. They’ll just end up standing in another line at the door of the plane anyway. Wait until the final boarding call. You’ll have a more peaceful boarding process. And if there’s an empty row on the plane as you board, you can switch your seat because you know you’re the last one on! (Unless you’re competing for that row with someone else who read this post. Then you can both break our your knitting needles and have a duel.)

Business Travel Tip #8 – Give yourself a fun challenge

Years ago, I was flying home from Tucscon. I was having a hard time finishing my song If I Were Me. And I gave myself a challenge. I told myself that either I finished the song by the end of the flight, or I wasn’t allowed to get off the plane. And guess what? I finished it!

Business Travel Tip #9 – Get out

Take a half hour and go for a walk outside your hotel. Google “walking trails” in your current city, and go. In other words, get out. Experience a tiny slice of where you are staying. We can become so isolated and insular when we travel. Getting out takes you outside of you. It’s a date with yourself. Expose your brain to something other than a hotel or cab or plane.

Business Travel Tip #10 – Work out

One of the best habits I’ve developed is a morning work-out. Even on this tour with the ballet company (with no transportation except for the tour bus), I have allotted extra money for cabs to the Y each morning. Exercise calms you. The endorphins make you happier. The proactiveness of it makes you powerful. It’s a great way to begin your day.

Business Travel Tip #11 – Curb Road Food Intake

I’ll write a whole post on this someday, but I do know that food on the road can be a challenge. Food impacts our emotions and well-being. Restaurants use a lot of fats, salts, and sugars – which exacerbate stress and emotions. When I’m on the road now, I eat smaller portions. I also aim for organic, raw and wholesome. I often Google all the local co-ops and health food stores. I make an extra effort to find simple healthy food. I drink tons of water. I know that many people don’t have the time or the will to do all this. I understand. I’ll just say for the record that I’m a much more peaceful traveler when I pay close attention to what and how I eat.

Business Travel Tip #12 – Give

When I’m in a town for more than a day, I find ways to give back. I’ve picked up trash in parks. I’ve fed stray animals. (A lot!) I’ve gone to animal shelters and held the kittens. I’ve left giant tips for housekeeping. On my day off in La Crosse, I went to a nursing home and played my songs for a big group of people in the dining room. Small gestures go a long way. And they ultimately serve you because they take you out of yourself. Yes, it can be a little scary to practice a random act of kindness. (Much of my nursing home audience fell asleep during my show, which doesn’t bode well for my future in the arts, does it!?) But there are so many ways to reach out. See if you can find a few that work for you!

Business Travel Tip #13 – Put Holosync on your iPod

I love Holosync. I use it when I’m on a plane, or when I’m just laying down to sleep in my hotel room. Sometimes I put it on when I’m backstage putting on make up. Visit the website and get acquainted.

Business Travel Tip #14 – Be Grace Kelly

I got this from Sarah Ban Breathnach‘s book Simple Abundance. She wrote a piece about being dignified and graceful. And she said to “Think Grace Kelly.” Sometimes when I’m feeling freaked out or stressed or frustrated in an airport, I think of that passage and smile. Then I imagine I’m Grace Kelly. And it kind of works! A sense of dignity and diva sinks in. Then it just becomes a fun little game. (I don’t know who the men could be. Maybe Gene Kelly. Without the rain.)

Business Travel Tip #15 – Get carts

I used to lug two guitars, a suitcase, and my computer bag all on my own. I’d pride myself on my strength and stamina. Now, I pride myself on swiping my credit card through the cart vending machines that are next to baggage claim. I’m not into struggle anymore. Get carts at the hotel. Get help with your stuff. Tip bell hops well. The extra $50 you might spend is still less than a visit to the chiropractor when you get home.

Business Travel Tip #16 – Arrive early

This one’s a given. But it’s worth saying. Get everywhere earlier than the scheduled arrival time.

Business Travel Tip #17 – Wash off your travel

If I have the opportunity, I always take a shower after I fly. I call it “washing off the travel.” I know that lots of people go right into meetings after they fly. If that’s you, then try to at least shower before you climb into bed. You don’t want to sleep with your travel.

Business Travel Tip #18 – Shower when you have one

This is mostly for us musicians. Lots of times, we perform late, and then we wake up and think we’ll just drive to the next place and shower before the show. The only problem is that you could hit a traffic jam. Or the next hotel doesn’t have your room ready yet. Anything can happen. Shower when you have one!

Business Travel Tip #19 – Be okay about unexpected expenses

My acupuncturist told that he had to rush to the airport in his rental car after a conference he attended. He didn’t have time to fill up the gas, and he paid $32 for a quarter tank at the Hertz desk. He was furious. Travel expenses like this can make you crazy. You smack your head and think, “Why didn’t I leave earlier??!”

But here’s what I told him: Don’t waste the time shaming yourself. Do the healthy thing: let it go. $32 for a teaspoon of gas? Fine. You got to the plane on time, didn’t you? That’s gotta be worth something. Travel is filled with lots of unexpected expenses. Sometimes one hundred to two hundred dollars of your money will get spent because of A) stupid things you did, B) unforseen situations, or C) the fine print. Do yourself a big favor. Just breathe and let it go because A) you’re traveling, B) you’re wealthy, and C) you’re worth it.

Business Travel Tip #20 – Be persistent about awareness and consciousness

A business trip is not the time to start a new diet, a yoga practice, or any new routine. You can, however, keep up your daily rituals, even in small doses. It’s easy to get thrown into unconsciousness when you’re on the road. When you get thrown off, it’s tempting to ignore the very things that can get you back on course. So, write in your gratitude journal. Say “Thank You” the minute you wake up in the morning, even if you feel lonely or tired. Wake up 15 minutes early and spend that time reminding yourself of your intents and visions for the day. Before you rush to your laptop and begin responding (or reacting), give yourself some time for creating the day. Or just get out your knitting!

Any travelers out there? Leave some of your own Business Travel Tips!

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31 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • Todd Schafer

    Your mentioning the nursing home brought a smile. I played the piano for some nursing home folks, and they must have been sleeping, because they didnt boo me off the keys.
    That pillow posting by LM is a good idea too.

  • Angie Hartford

    Love the post! I travel with Comfort Kits, from Jennifer Louden’s amazing books. I use a vintage lunchbox, and put in Rescue Remedy, an eyemask, earplugs, trashy novel, an inflatable pillow, hand gel, and a couple of energy bars. OK, and some really good chocolate. Having it ready to go in a kit makes all the difference.

    I also travel with a parero, which is not just a good swimsuit coverup or blackout curtain, but also a stylish little blankie for the plane. We’re never too old for our blankies; we’re just sometimes too selfconscious to admit it!

  • Robin

    If you’re performing in a nursing home, it’s actually a compliment if people fall asleep. It means that they are feeling relaxed and calm. That’s a nice gift to be able to offer someone.

  • Leah McGrath

    Christine…all great tips…I like the ones about food of course since I’m a dietitian. I’d also add that those funky neck brace things really work and are better than trying to wad up the airplane pillow. Also, Ambien didn’t work for me at all and in fact I started hiccupping and giggling loudly and was so disruptive the flight attendant came by and spoke to my husband….and I didn’t remember any of it!

  • Palmtreechick

    Hmm, i have holosync but I haven’t used it months. Whoops!

  • Hueina Su

    These are fantastic tips! I LOVE Holosync and I always listen to lots of audio books & Teleclass on my iPod too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • newbestgirls

    Iโ€™ll write a whole post on this someday, but I do know that food on the road can be a challenge. Food impacts our emotions and well-being. Restaurants use a lot of fats, salts, and sugars – which exacerbate stress and emotions. When Iโ€™m on the road now, I eat smaller portions. I also aim for organic, raw and wholesome. I often Google all the local co-ops and health food stores. I make an extra effort to find simple healthy food. I drink tons of water. I know that many people donโ€™t have the time or the will to do all this. I understand. Iโ€™ll just say for the record that Iโ€™m a much more peaceful traveler when I pay close attention to what and how I eat.
    http://www.newbestgirls.org/

  • Marina

    Knitting is a good idea, just be sure to use plastic knitting needles and not metal ones. Even before 9/11 you could get into trouble at airport security with metal knitting needles, now I imagine it is even worse.

    Thanks for the great ideas Christine.

  • Kloudiia

    This is an excellent post Christine! I’m going to bookmark this and refer to it every now and then, as I’m expecting myself to be travelling a fair bit!

    And I’m joining your mailing list! Such enjoyable reads ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Christine Kane

    Hi Dan, Thanks for all that info. I just saw the Simple-ology stuff on audible.com and it looked interesting. I’ll check out those other posts as well!

    MK, I feel like I was at Mary Oliver’s reading. I’ve had so many reports. I think all of my friends in the world were there!

    Susie, Thanks for the additional tip!

    Thanks Lee!

    That’s a good one Susanne. I guess I take it for granted! You’re right to mention it though!

    Hi Lexi (I just met a little girl after the ballet the other night whose name was Lexi. Two in one week!) Funny that you thought itunes was for kids! thanks for getting my music. And for the tips about Reiki. I’d like a little bit right now, as a matter of fact. I’m betting you’re not anywhere near Erie, PA!

    m, yes, bad drawings are a must. and photographs too!

  • m

    I highly recommend the knitting also taking photographs and drawing especially bad drawings! They give you permission to really really look at were you are and I find a kind of meditativeness takes over me.

  • Lexi Sundell

    I have thoroughly enjoyed discovering your blog and that led me to listen to your songs. Then I signed up for itunes and actually bought your cd Rain & Mud & Wild & Green. This is a first for me, I thought itunes was for kids!

    I am an artist (not musical) and have done a lot of travel with my work. On item I would add to your excellent list would be doing Reiki energy healing while traveling. I wrote more about it in a post called Road Reiki for Travelers which states it extends your list by one item.

    I look forward to reading more of your writing!

  • Susanne

    I love both your posts about travel and the tips. One more thing that I have done for ages and that seems to be neglected: never leave the house without a book. Even when you have your audiobook or iPod or whatever with you. A book doesn’t need batteries or anything. You can start and stop reading whenever you want. (You can tell that I never go anywhere by car anymore. It’s all public transportation.)

  • lee

    What’s so neat about this post is that you don’t have to be traveling to apply this stuff. Audible books are great for commuting. And not getting strung out about unexpected expenses is one of the keys to maintaining one’s blood pressure. Excellent post! Thanks! Christine.

  • Susie

    Howdy! Glad to hear the tour is going well (the insights of the tour have been fun to read) and congrats on a great review!

    When I’m traveling, I like to take an extra day off or at least come to work a few hours later (I know this isn’t possible for every travel occasion). This way, I get to process the travel a little more and I’m such a picture nut that I really enjoy taking the extra time to organize my pictures or just some extra time to write in my journal.

    Thanks for re-introducing me to Holosync. I heard about it a few years ago when i was doing a under-grad research paper on meditation, but I had since forgotten about it.

    P.S. I saw some ladies duel with crochet needles before, it wasn’t pretty, there was yarn everywhere! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • MK

    Christine, Glad the tour is going well. We’ll surely miss you at Mary Oliver’s reading tonight! xo, mka

  • Dan and Jennifer

    Hey Christine,

    Great tips, enjoyed reading this. I think I came across your blog either from eMom Wendy Piersall or from Liz Strauss a while back and I’ve really enjoyed your posts.

    While Jennifer and I don’t travel much these days, some of your tips are very useful for everyone regardless of where they are.

    Holosync has been really great for us – we’ve been doing it for a year and a half now, and it’s really changed our lives for the better. It’s the best meditation program I’ve seen to date as it helps you get very low very quickly – and stay there. We just upgraded to the 2nd level, with our own custom-recorded subliminal affirmations.

    We actually meditate 2 or 3 times a day now to keep the mind fresh throughout the day and that’s really worked wonders for making focus and writing inspiration actually happen after the first few hours of the day.

    Segment Intending is a very interesting concept – and I think I’ll start focusing on that as well throughout my day. It should really help keep you “present” since the mind loves to wonder (especially mine). ๐Ÿ™‚ Our friends Ed Mills just wrote a great piece on Segment Intending – here’s the link, I think it’s a great read:
    http://evolvingtimes.com/2007/02/the-size-of-your-segment-does-matter.htm

    Getting a bit off topic here, but we also started doing something called Simpleology (www.simpleology.com) about a year ago. It’s an amazing system for just getting things done and structuring each day to actually move toward your goals. As very much of an “idea person” I’ve always had great difficulty focusing (thank God for Jennifer and her ability to get stuff done). It is similar to making to-do lists first thing in the morning, but your list for the day must match to your goals for the week and beyond. That way you’re advancing toward your goals, not fighting fires and treading water – which is so easy to do. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Ed has a great writeup on Simpleology too (with our own comments below his post), so here is that one as well: http://evolvingtimes.com/2006/12/30-day-trial-for-simpleology-and-a-new-email-system.htm

    Have an awesome day!
    Dan

  • Christine Kane

    Thanks Kathy! If you like the Bose headset thingee, you really would love the holosync stuff. (though I don’t think you travel as much anymore.) I’m hoping you pack your “little friends” in your suitcase, for fear that the airport security would confiscate them, thinking they were “little explosives.” !

    Hi Elaine, The tour is going well thanks! I’m following my own advice as best I can. I didn’t mean to give you nightmares…just little guidelines! Thanks for the thoughts!

    Tammy, I’m a huge fan of my iPod. I’m a huge fan of anything Apple. And don’t even get me started looking at the iPhone. Sheesh! (And I understand the vegetarian thing, I’ve been a vegan since last June, and that’s WAY intense when you’re on the road. But I just sort of stay really peaceful about it, and don’t get hung up on it when there are no options.)

    Hi Caren… Yes, I”m sure those coolers are filled with Baked Tofu and Seaweed.

  • Caren

    LOL! That’s so funny, Tammy. I made a re-commitment to vegetarianism a few years ago… right before I bartended for the NASCAR races here. I had a heck of a time finding *anything* to eat out there. They didn’t even have cheese nachos, or big pretzels. I finally found a souvlaki vendor, and got one with no meat. If I ever do that again, I know now — pack a cooler! Hey – everybody else packs a cooler for the races, too — do you think they’re all vegetarian? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • tammy vitale

    First I must need an IPOD. Because I keep the TV on for noise when I’m staying in a motel. 2nd I once went vegan right before 2 weeks of work in southern Louisiana. Now THAT was a challenge (I made it through that 2 weeks, but not much longer).
    Great post on travel – thanks!

  • Elaine

    Christine This is a Great Post!!! I’ve printed this off and I’m gonna use it as a travelling check list/mantra from now on! You really should write this in a book… best seller I’m sure! (I’ll recommend it to all the business people I meet!!!)

    I’m just learning Segment intending this week and you’re right…it does work!!! Wow!!

    Guilty as charged!!! – How scarey self awareness is… thank you!!! I was there at the gate last week edging myself to be 1st through to the plane…probably so I could sit smuggly and watch everyone else struggle to find a place for their hand luggage!!?? and someone else pushed infront of me to be 1st instead!!!!! – why do I REALLY need to be 1st in line?? is it obsessive behaviour?!!! Next time I fly I’m gonna pace myself and be last on the plane… I may even take up knitting too!!! (though I may have to duel for the ‘honour’ of my hand luggage!!!….)

    The other area I struggle with is baggage reclaim… where I rush to the belt (usuallly break into a mild sweat!!)… then wait 10 mins then 6 bags come out (are they teasing us??!! come on… come on…) then nothing for a further 20 mins. Mmm… I imagine a baggage supervisor looking at CCTV saying… ‘yeap they’re getting p**d off… just send a couple more bags out!!!)

    Thanks for this…and making me have nightmares!!! I can…will change I promise!

    How’s the tour doing?!

    Elaine

  • Kathy

    Travelling. Oh yes – in my global sales job I’ve spent countless hours in airports, on planes, in hotels in cities I may never see again. Your post has some great ideas for making the best of this time. Some of my favorite “be nice to me” tips include: Take off that nasty bedspread IMMEDIATELY – throw it in a corner and curl up under the much cleaner sheet/blanket/sheet covered down comforter (if you’re lucky enough to be in a hotel that has them). Instead of a “wash off the travel” shower that first night, take a long hot bath with some nice smelling organic potion you bring in a 3 oz. container with the other things in your 1 quart Ziploc plastic bag. Carry some of those travel candles (scented or not) and light one to create some ambiance in your room or get rid of lingering unpleasant smells from cleaning supplies or the prior guest. And I always bring a little stuffed friend to share the lonely nights with. It’s always interesting to see what the maids do with my friends – the more playful cleaning crews get a bigger tip from me!! On the plane, particularly a long international flight where I need to sleep, I am addicted to my Bose headset. Sometimes I just turn on the noise cancelling thing to block out the ambiant noise and catch a few winks – sometimes I plug into the classical music station on the plane and do the same thing – sometimes (rarely) I watch a movie on my laptop. The caution with using this one too much is that you might miss interacting to someone seredipitously sitting next to you. And finally, I always try to have at least a half day to explore a new place – walking is the best but sometimes the area is not as desirable for that – hopping on a sightseeing bus can help you see a little nicer area while shaking off the jet lag. Happy travels!

  • Christine Kane

    Thanks Lauren! Your thoughts made me smile. (Especially the smiling at people part. that’s great.) I remember one sunday night after flying all day trying to get home, I was waiting in the Atlanta airport. My plane home had been delayed for many hours. Then at midnight we all got on the plane. Then the pilot came on and said, well folks, we’re not going tonight. and we were told we all had to go get our own hotel rooms. i went into a corner of the airport and cried my eyes out because i knew if i tried to speak with the gate agent, i would lose it! Anyway, it sounds like you have grown wise in your own travels! Thanks for the thoughts…

  • Christine Kane

    Thanks ILYVM! My own years of bad travel experiences have made me smarter!

    Caren, wow, that’s an interesting passage. And yes, it is the same idea. I think a lot about how many people live (traveling or not) in a constant state of reaction. (That seems to be what’s happened with the whole democratic party. They’re always on defense now, and rarely on offense!) Thanks for the insight!

  • Lauren Muney

    This is a GREAT entry! I too have traveled very much, from whirlwind trips on planes to 11,000 van tour to driving alone across the country (many times). You are so right on many of these topics. And your advice still had things I never would have considered! Anyone reading this will really be grateful for this list – print out and remind yourself, because the list (and explanations) are so juicy they can be forgotten.

    I think one of the most important things I discovered is akin to #19 (consciousness and awareness): simply “be where you are”. Sometimes travel is difficult and frustrating, whether it’s being lost in a city, on a 3-leg plane ride taking 12 hours, or in a small town where you are a complete stranger. I found the best solution is to take everyone ONE MINUTE AT A TIME:

    –if I’m lost (or in traffic), the best solution is to take a deep breath and look for solutions: don’t get upset. I can always call my destination and explain the delay. I can also look on maps or ask locals. There’s ALWAYS a solution.
    –if I’m on a frustrating plane trip (or similar), I discovered that smiling at other passengers really helps ME, and helps them also. I’ve met some very interesting people this way, even if it’s a 5-minute conversation.
    –sometimes tears of frustration do help, but only if it’s letting out the emotion: give yourself permission to be upset – and IDENTIFY what’s upsetting you without blaming or judging it. (This may sounds like, “I’m afraid I’m going to miss the opening reception”). This is completely different than telling yourself blame (“They will think I’m horrible for coming in late”). Just telling yourself that it’s ok to be frustrated, will unlock the sadness and will soon pave the way for your mind to make quality solutions.

  • Caren

    Good tips for traveling through life itself, too! I’m just reading Elizabeth Berg’s “The Year of Pleasures”. It’s a sweet book, a little predictable, but a nice read. (I got it free — it’s a bookcrossing book!) The protagonist is a woman who recently lost her husband to cancer. One of her friends tells her to make the upcoming year a “year of pleasures”:

    “Yeah, I know — Count your blessings. Remind yourself every night of every good thing that happened to you that day.”

    “No. I’m not talking about things that happen to you. I’m talking about things you make happen. I’m talking about purposefully doing one thing that brings you happiness every single day, in a very conscious way. It builds up the arsenal. It tips the balance…. Don’t think of it as calendar days to cross off, or an assignment… Think of it more fluidly – as a philosophy that you exercise daily. And the days turn into years. And the years turn into a lifetime.”

    Your talking about being proactive reminded me of that passage. I’m enjoying hearing about your tour! Thanks for keeping us in the loop! LOL

    Gassho~

  • ILYVM

    Having traveled for 25 years in the music business, I know these pitfalls and the solutions you offer to be absolutely true. If you travel much, this core group of ideas can change your experience AND keep you way more aware, focused, and successful at whatever work you have traveled to accomplish.

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