Meet Brooke Bains, Founder and Chief Explorer of Bombshell!
Brooke’s been on the business travel circuit for almost 2 decades meeting with clients and delivering value across industries like finance, healthcare, and software technology. Although the industries she served have changed, her desire to find better ways to travel for business remained constant and grew more acute as she racked up lots of miles in the air.
The spark for Bombshell happened in about 2014, but she tucked the idea away and flew to her next destination. It wasn’t until Brooke returned from a 4-month sabbatical in 2019 that she decided to stop thinking of ways to improve business travel for women and instead get to work. Bombshell is her mission to deliver to women what she wished she had access to during the long stints away from home. She is dedicated to helping women travel lighter and expect more from business travel so she can be bold, polished, connected, and sustainable.
Read on to learn more about Brooke’s travel favorites, tips, tricks, and hacks!
What is your role and company?
Founder & CEO of BOMBSHELL.
How often do you travel for work?
2-3 times per month.
What are your go-to items to pack when you’re traveling for business?
Lululemon scarf that doubles as a blanket for cold plane rides, extra grippy-barre socks for exercise & warmth in the morning while preparing for the day, Philosophy Lip Balm that doubles as a gloss when I forget other lipstick, Swell water bottle for hydration, Rothy’s black flats for racing between connections and comfort, Kiehl’s midnight recovery oil for dry climates, Tatcha cleansing oil as the 2 in 1, Sephora sheet mask for one evening to feel pampered, Wella Organic Bars for nutrition on the go, and Meli’s for a sweet treat.
What item is always in your carry on?
Venus Snap travel razor, Mason Pearson brush for soft hair always, toothbrush and Tom’s toothpaste (I am sad when I forget to check how much paste is left and I have to stop at a drug store on my way to a meeting or hotel), feminine products to avoid the oops, sewing kit and safety pins, nail file, a “go-bag” for toiletries that I wish I never had to pack, loungewear that I often have to leave behind when going on longer trips where suitcase real estate is limited…I can’t choose just one.
How do you #treatyourself when on the road? Either a drop-in yoga, SoulCycle, or Bootcamp class, finding one healthy place near the office I am working from (this is not always possible), a sheet mask and 30 minutes of downtime in my hotel and Airbnb (no tech, no books, just meditation + a mask)
What cities are easiest for business travel and why?
This is relative because biz travel isn’t necessarily easy, but there are a few places that have stood out. Philly and Pittsburgh because they’re great walking cities. Boston is fantastic as long as Uber or Lyft are your mode of transportation and you pick a hotel downtown or near the universities. Chicago is a personal favorite especially when I fly into Midway. It’s a great walking city and even when it’s cold, there is a buzz. DC to NY on the Acela and access to amenities in both towns is pretty seamless. Amsterdam, London, Cincinnati, Seattle, and Charlotte are easy because once situated downtown you have access to great restaurants and getting to meetings is easy. Portland, Maine is a gem because the central business district makes it simple to walk to meetings or drive out of town with little to no traffic. Bentonville, AK is simple because WalMart has made it possible for mass quantities of people to move in and out of the relatively small city, it’s an amazing operation. Sacramento used to be my home airport and it’s one of the easiest airports to fly in and out of. Getting to your hotel or business meeting is hassle free and you’re not too far from Napa and the Bay. Singapore is also on my list because it’s designed around business, cleanliness, and flow (a well-oiled machine)!
What cities are hardest for business travel and why?
San Francisco, Oakland and the Bay Area because traffic is a nightmare and public transit is somewhat limited or unwelcoming to those who don’t know the system. That said, once you know BART, getting around the Bay becomes easier. Dallas is tough because it’s lots of sprawl and the DFW metroplex is huge so renting a car is more economical than Uber or Lyft, but I prefer not to rent. Atlanta is a great city with fantastic neighborhoods, but travel is not ideal. The airport or getting to business meetings never feels effortless. Bloomington Illinois and Houston Texas because I’ve never had a flight arrive on time and I do my best to leave “always” and “never” out of my vocab. Beijing because it’s mass chaos, but I do love being in this city. Any city without mass transit and that is going through a gentrification process is tough because the businesses are typically spread outside of city centers and this means I am staying in hotels near the offices in which I am working so I trade city buzz for business parks which feels less than homey and quite isolating.
What is your favorite travel destination?
That’s a toss up between three places: India, Turkey, and Italy. The world is so big and I have so much more to explore! African safari is at the top for my next getaway.
What’s your best beauty travel tip?
Laughter is always on tap for beauty and to enhance it I triple my water intake and make extra time in the morning for meditation and physical activity (even if a brisk walk). Having body oil is a lifesaver when it’s dry. I use it right after my shower and let the oil do the good work. Oh, and did I mention I do my best to get 8 hours of sleep? It’s the totally free beauty hack that never fails.
What’s your best fitness travel tip?
I carry elastic bands so if I don’t have access to a gym or a group class I can at least get in a good stretch and strength workout in my room. Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube is also amazing and a great way to start or end my day!
What’s your best nutrition travel tip?
Finding the closest grocery store to my hotel and stocking up on fresh fruit, veggies, and water so I can at least have something healthy when I don’t have time for lunch. I carry easy dissolving amino acids and MCT oil packets, Motive Pure Hydrating Electrolytes, Vital Proteins Collagen, and some type of women’s multivitamin – I am still looking for a vitamin I can stick with. I welcome recommendations.
What’s the biggest travel burden you face?
Stocking up on travel toiletries and fitting the essentials in my go-bag. My go-bag is always packed and weighs more than I would like. Is it just me or is my go-bag the only one that gets “product creep” (it’s like scope creep, only worse, because I don’t know how long some products have been in this bag of treasures but I don’t want to throw them out just in case they come in handy).
Leaving my Dyson hair dryer behind and being subject to the terrible product at the hotel this just adds hassle and extra time to my morning routine where I don’t necessarily feel my best. Shoes are a pain to pack especially in the winter when I am not sure if it’s boots, flats, or pumps weather. Last but not least… generally feeling dehydrated on the road. Dryness – the struggle is real.
What’s your best piece of advice for other women travelers?
Take time for yourself and explore, even if it’s a walk around the office midday, a group exercise class where you might meet great people, or a restaurant that feels like a piece of home. Being on the road can be isolating and instead of working for hours in the evening with a glass of wine in your hotel room get out, breathe in the fresh air, and give yourself a little something so burnout does not become the outcome (oh, and bring a mask or something from your fav spa to pamper yourself just before dozing off).
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