We recently passed the one-year mark of the beginning of the COVID pandemic and many of us are still under state-wide restrictions. These restrictions have meant a way-of-life loss of many things we used to take for granted (looking at you, concerts!), but Heidi Rasmussen, co-founder and COO of freshbenies and Chair of the 4word Board of Directors, has found a way to still capture the rest and relaxation of traveling without leaving the safety and comfort of her community: staycations!
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Before COVID, how much time did you make for vacations and travel-for-fun?
As a business owner, we didn’t get enough time, BUT, when we did go, we took some fantastic trips. Typically, we would save two weeks per year for traveling.
One week would be with a group of friends and family, and we’d venture to amazing places. We did destinations like Thailand (on the E&O Express), Iceland, a 12-day Mediterranean cruise, and amazing oceanfront villas in Playa Del Carmen and Jamaica. One year, we rented an entire castle in the French countryside. There were nine bedrooms, so we had 18 friends and family come along. I call these “working” vacations because we were always on the run with tours and sightseeing, very little down time.
The other week was usually spent with just my husband, Reid. These are much quieter vacations with ZERO plans. Usually in a tropical location where we could lay by a beach or pool, read, binge watch TV shows, stay up late, sleep in and eat great food. Reid and I tried to really rest on the national three-day weekends, also.
What do vacations look like for you now? Do they still bring you as much joy?
They’re VERY different, but they bring just as much joy. While we’re not traveling to destinations far and wide, we have mastered the staycation! The great thing about a staycation is there’s a LOT less prep time. No packing, asking your neighbors to get your mail, figuring out what to do with the kids and/or pets, getting to an airport two hours prior to your flight, etc.
This year, we were more strategic about taking time away from work. Instead of two weeks away, we made a point to strategically set aside four weeks on our calendars.
What are some fun ways anyone can treat themselves to some R&R without breaking safety restrictions or compromising their health?
Here’s a quick list of how we set up our staycations:
- NO work! Laptops closed for the entire week. Reid and I had to pinky swear that we’d focus on relaxation and staycationing.
- NO pre-planned appointments! Here again, pinky swear. We want every day to be totally free to do whatever we wanted.
- Stay up late and sleep in! We’re normally up around 5AM, so this is a big “vacation luxury” – it was important to us to be able to sleep whatever hours we wanted. Some nights we would stay up until 2AM reading or watching movies – and then get up at 10AM. Glorious!
- Eat well! And by “well,” I don’t necessarily mean healthy. We eat pretty healthy all the time, so vacations are the time for Fritos, hamburgers, donuts and homemade cookies. We’ve gotten pretty good at Amazon Fresh orders, so we plan staycation orders to land the Friday night before vacation starts. We also do a few “cheat meal” takeout orders, and actually go out for breakfast a couple mornings. The picture is proof that we may have gone a bit overboard on our first staycation.
- Make time for outings! Even laying around, eating, and watching movies gets boring after a while. In the summer, we peppered in trips to our local public swimming pools. We happen to have three by our house, so we were able to mix it up and plan some pool and reading time. We had a home improvement project we could never get to, so we spent some of our time doing research and a few store visits.
- Create new spaces. For staycation, we rearranged furniture to create a different space in our home. In the winter, we have two large chairs that we moved across the room and brought right up to the fireplace. This made a perfect reading nook and we spent hours just sitting and reading. In the summer, we’d transition from the TV room out to the patio for reading time. Also, when it’s a little chilly outside, it’s really fun to bring blankets and hot coffee!
Where is the first place you and your husband will travel to once it’s safe?
How fun to dream about that, although the dream probably isn’t too far away with the COVID numbers coming down and vaccinations on the upswing. We’ll probably “put our toe in the water” with something close and easy. Since we’re in Texas, Mexico is a common destination. We had a trip to Nuevo Vallarta that was COVID canceled, so we’ll probably pick that back up.
Later, I hope to venture a bit further, maybe travel to Fiji. I’ve always wanted to go; those huts on the water look amazing. In the past, we’ve shied away from that destination because it’s a 20+ hour plane ride and that’s too much flying to warrant a one-week stay. Plus, we used to travel a bit for business, and the idea of being on another plane that long was not appealing. At this point, I’d do it happily!
Communicator. Brand Builder. Trainer. Strategic Planner. Organizer. Customer Service Advocate. Team Builder. UX defender. Writer. Mentor. Coffee Addict. Overall: gettin’ stuff done and makin’ it happen.
After 27 years in the retail industry, Heidi took on a new challenge. From corporate life to entrepreneurship. From fashion retail to the employee benefits industry. At 15 years old, Heidi started at JCPenney where she went from a sales floor associate to Divisional Vice President at the corporate office & led the largest brand launch in JCPenney history.
In her current role as a co-founder and COO, she launched freshbenies (as in, a fresh approach to benefits) to give employers and their employees practical tools to control their healthcare dime, time and peace of mind.
freshbenies has been named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies in America four consecutive years and the Dallas 100 two consecutive years. freshbenies also received two Health Value Awards given to companies that are dedicated to providing innovative, value-based healthcare.
No matter what the product or service, Heidi has learned that people want brands that engage and help simplify life. Even more, they want brands to follow through on that promise. That’s what she does.