FlexTrades is all about manufacturing, and this industry is all about making things. However, we try to remember the people doing the making, and all the things that are important to them. Our families, careers, and histories deserve recognition beyond what we do when we’re “on the clock.” In that light, this article will gladly answer a question that we are hearing more and more often…

What is Juneteenth?

We’re thrilled to see awareness around this holiday grow every single year, and we’re very happy to answer the question above.

Juneteenth is observed annually on June 19th and has been since 1865. It began in Galveston, Texas, following the Civil War, as African American Emancipation Day. In the 156 years since, the celebration has grown and spread beyond the United States and, sometimes, beyond the date. Today, Juneteenth is a day, a week, and in some areas even a month that commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement.


Juneteenth originated  when Major General Gordon Granger landed with his regiment and brought news to Texas of Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and General Robert E. Lee’s April 1865 surrender. This announcement “officially” freed the enslaved population of Texas with Granger’s General Order Number 3.

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”

Why Is Juneteenth Important Today?

Juneteenth today celebrates African American freedom and achievement, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. But, as historian Henry Gates Jr says, today the day is “not only an opportunity to celebrate, but to speak out.”

As the holiday grows in a national — and even global — perspective, Juneteenth is becoming an increasingly symbolic event to not only recognize the achievements of the past but to also advocate for societal improvements in the future. In essence, we’re all collectively remembering where we came from while recommitting to what we want our future to be. How can you not celebrate that?

How Can I Celebrate?

In the Workplace:

Recognizing Juneteenth in the workplace doesn’t just support corporate diversity; it shows a true commitment to creating a diverse workforce and recognition of an increasingly diverse society. There are many ways this can be done, but bringing in a guest speaker is a great one.

In the Community:

If your community doesn’t already have a Juneteenth committee, forming one is a great first step. However, if it does, participating in events is all you really need to do. Whether attending a block party, hosting guest speakers, or watching a parade; the aim of the day is to remember, celebrate, encourage, and support freedom, unity, and improvement among all of us. There isn’t a wrong way to participate in that!

In the Home:

Plan a special meal and gather the family together to acknowledge Juneteenth. Decorate your table and/or door with a Juneteenth theme and discuss what the celebration of the day means. Emphasize the mandates of responsibility and striving to be the best you can be. Make specific pledges for the remainder of the year, ask for support in accomplishing your goals, and commit to supporting the goals of another.

Additional Resources

We hope this FAQ didn’t just answer your question but inspires you to more actively engage with Juneteenth this year. If you still have questions, there’s a lot more to learn about the holiday. You can always get other answers from us too. Just send your questions to our Writing Team and keep an eye out for future FAQ’s. We can’t wait to share our next answer with you!

June 5, 2023, marks the 50th anniversary of World Environment Day. Each year, this passion project of the United Nations brings together more than 150 countries working toward one theme. The theme has been different every year, with this year’s theme being “Solutions to Plastic Pollution.” Consumers have many options when it comes to protecting the environment and reducing waste (recycling being the foremost). But what can manufacturers do? One of the biggest trends in manufacturing right now is going “green.”

Green Manufacturing

There are many ways to go green as a manufacturer including:

Implement an Environmental Management System (EMS) — With an EMS in place, manufacturers can store, organize, review, and evaluate their environmental impact and performance as it relates to regulatory requirements as well as internal objectives and goals related to compliance, pollution prevention, resource conservation as well as reduced costs and increased efficiencies too.
Leverage Renewable Energy Renewable energy isn’t just solar power. There are many options for renewable resource options including rain, wind, ocean power, bio energy, etc. When utilized, all have the ability to reduce the use of non-renewable resources such as coal, oil, or gas.
Partner with Eco-Friendly Suppliers — Uniting with other eco-friendly companies not only promotes internal goals of going green but also promotes the business of the partners and suppliers with the same objective.
General Energy-Saving Practices — These are easier to implement and follow if going green as a manufacturer seems like a big chore.

  • Turn equipment off when not operating.
  • Open up windows and doors for natural light.
  • Switch to LED lights.
  • Make sure there are recycling options in lunch and breakrooms.
  • Consider implementing earlier work hours in the summer to avoid additional operating costs with the AC turned on.
  • Work to ensure predictive maintenance is a #1 goal for increasing the lifetime value and durability of production machinery.
  • Go digital. Auto deposit paychecks where possible or use electronic apps for internal messaging and communications.

Check out these manufacturers who have found ways to go green and are seeing the positive results from it!

  • SC Johnson closed down 2019 on a high when 100% of their factories sent zero waste to landfills.
  • Patagonia uses recycled materials in over 60% of their fabrics and is working to remove all nylon from their clothing since it’s made with petrochemicals.
  • Hudson Technologies “spent two years and over $2 million in research, development, capital costs, and training to ensure all our operations and products met stringent environmental standards” including replacing traditional chlorinated lubricants with biodegradable lubricants and removing solvent-based metal cleaners from their operations.
  • Bombardier has pledged over 50% of their R&D investments toward the goal of greener aircraft, among many other activities in their ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) plan.
  • New Belgium Brewing is a Certified B Corporation (cool!) who only uses sustainable vendors and ensures 99.9% of their waste doesn’t end up in a landfill.

We’re not the only ones talking about increased sustainability across the industry either. We heard so much about it at industry events over the last year that we’ve previously written about how early adopters are already reaping the benefits. The list goes on and on! Find more Green Manufacturers here and here!

We’re free .

What an interesting concept. 
We choose where we step foot, 
Our identities draped in linens ,
Our hobbies prancing through the air. 
We sit at our desks 
Falling into the rhythm of each mechanical clicking key. 

We gather with loved ones 
Pondering today’s status as the sun greets our skin with infinite warmth. 
The grill hisses with anticipation 
As the wind guides us. 
While the burgers sing
Laughter fills the air. 

Then, we remember 
All of those before us, 
Fighting invisible forces ,
Dreaming of a future 
Driven by love. 

We remember 
Our family and friends 
Filled with bravery as they left what they knew 
To fight for the unknown. 
We remember the lives 
That gave the ultimate sacrifice. 
We remember the families, 
Healing from loss ,
Celebrating each return. 

We remember we are free. 
They gave us this reality, 
Shaped by their care. 

We remember.

Most importantly, 
We are thankful. 

Thanks to you, 

We are free.  

The manufacturing industry is one of America’s great invisible strengths. They keep our stores stocked, our transportation systems running, and our people employed. And while this entire industry could use better recognition, today’s article will focus solely on Black Owned Manufacturing Companies that are experiencing tremendous growth.

Electro Soft Inc

Located in Pennsylvania, this family-owned manufacturer has over 35 years of experience creating customized electronics for a variety of industries including aviation, defense, and transit. They offer a plethora of services such as custom panel builds, cable assembly, wire harness assembly, PCB builds, and military electronics. They do all of this while highlighting Just In Time (JIT) Delivery to increase productivity.

James Wallace became an innovator at a young age after inventing his own air conditioner. How did he do it? He utilized his existing fridge and converted it into an air conditioner. Later in life, he pursued an engineering degree at Penn State and created his first design debugging secure communications equipment for the National Security Agency. His daughter also started her career at an early age. Karla would cut wires at home, making ten cents an hour, and later in life she worked at every business location her family opened. She graduated college with a focus on business, shipping operations, and logistics. The family legacy continued onward and is still expanding today. They are known for their specialty services and quality production.

Find out more about their history here.

Maroon Sausage Company

This gem is right in the heart of Brooklyn, New York.

Howard Allen founded Maroon Sausage Company when he fell in love with the diverse populations surrounding him. As a result, he drafted a dream plan for the company to begin. His desire to bring Jamaican food to the local market while also offering it to surrounding markets online. To do just that, he created the perfect product… Jamaican Jerk Chicken Sausage.

Brooklyn has jerk chicken everywhere – the environment made it accessible, but Howard and his friend created the idea of having a mobile food business. The only requirement? It had to be sausage. They knew of a similar company, but they also knew they could take it to a whole new level. In 2014, the project became solely Howard’s as his friend stopped the project to follow a new path. Daily, Howard still tried to curate the beloved recipe they have on the market today. The esteemed judges (his children and mother-in-law) became quality testers until he took his product to the streets by hosting tables at local markets.

Did he have a cooking background? Nope, this creative director took his marketing skills to a new level by creating a holistic project. They held fundraisers during food truck events in support of halting human trafficking, and this turned into a weekly partnership as his company grew in the city.

Get ahold of some sausage of your own here.

Nerrido Foods

While we’re on the topic of food, let’s talk about the Nigerian delight of Nerrido foods. Ufuoma Okharedia, a mother and wife, is the CEO and Founder of Nerrido. When she left Nigeria, she realized there was a gap with availability to traditional African meals. She sought to create accessible authentic African foods and sourced authentic ingredients locally. As a result, she shared her joy of cooking online while also selling blends of tomato stew for jollof rice. This sauce is all in one: pasta, curry, pizza, jollof rice, you name it!

Not only did she share her joy of cooking, but she also began to teach others how to make traditional and authentic dishes. This enabled her to bring the Nigerian tradition overseas while creating access for others to do the same. Ufuoma aims to inspire others to cook with confidence.

Shop online here.


Manufacturing is truly for everyone, whether you start with an idea sketched onto a napkin or pursued a technical degree. As a society, we need to do a better job of acknowledging how greatly this industry affects each of us. Without modern manufacturing, our technology, education, and scientific knowledge would stall completely, our daily lives would look vastly different, and we wouldn’t be as connected as we are today.

Don’t be afraid to get started in the skilled trades world. Not sure where to start? Connect with us, and we’ll help get you there.

Other Honorable Mentions

What is the definition of a dream job in manufacturing? There is no wrong answer to this question. Most of us will have a different definition, and that will probably change over the course of our careers. My dream job allows me to excel at my craft, learn new skills, and have a seamless work-life balance to enjoy my hobbies and time with family and friends. The “Flex” in FlexTrades means that we offer flexibility to our employees by allowing them to build an exciting and rewarding career, however you define the term “dream job.”

Five Ways Technicians Can “Flex” With FlexTrades

Variety of work: At FlexTrades, you have the flexibility to pick and choose which project to accept. One Technician may choose projects to get experience with new tools or new processes. Another Technician may only choose projects using the tool they are most experienced with. Whether you want to become a jack of all trades or the very best at a specific skill, you can find the right fit with FlexTrades.

Work your preferred schedule: The flexibility to choose when you work, and when you have time off, is not easy to find. Some of our Technicians are true ‘road warriors’ who go from project-to-project to bank experience and pay as quickly as possible. Some of our Technicians take a well-deserved break between projects. Some of our Technicians even prefer third-shift projects while others prefer second shift. FlexTrades is flexible and allows you to work the schedule that suits you best.

Choose your workplace: Our clients range from small mom-and-pop shops to massive Fortune 100 companies. Do you want the community of a smaller shop? Do you want to operate cutting edge equipment in a multi-million-dollar facility? With FlexTrades, you have the flexibility to choose the type of company you want to work with.

Go where you want: Our technicians have the flexibility to choose where they travel for assignments. Some choose the next project based on how soon they can start and will travel wherever the work brings them. Others choose to stay closer to home so they can visit their family and friends on a day off. Many choose projects based on what the region has to offer for hiking, fishing, hunting, or other hobbies to pursue in their free time.

Commitment to one project at a time: Once you’ve completed a project commitment, there are no strings attached. If you want to go right to the next project, you can. If you want to take time off at home before choosing your next project, you can do that, too. If you want to bring your experience to a facility in your town, we’ve got you covered. FlexTrades is flexible so as to encourage our Technicians to always do what is best for their themselves, their family and their careers.

We chose the name “FlexTrades” because we recognize the importance of being flexible. Our Technicians take advantage of that flexibility.

If you are seeking more freedom with your job, take a look at some of our open positions. If you’re ready to apply, contact a recruiter today. We’d love for you to see for yourself what puts the “flex” in FlexTrades!

Why Corey Loves Working With FlexTrades:

Jeremy P. Loves the Ability to Travel

In a recent interview with one of our skilled technicians, Shane, I asked who inspired him to start his work in the trades. He went on to tell me how he owes it all to his mother. I just smiled and thought about how my mom was the biggest influence on my career path too. I’m certain Shane and I aren’t the only ones in that boat!

My mom worked as a middle school teacher for over 40 years. She touches tools as infrequently as possible. Most folks who know her would agree that her mechanical aptitude can be described as “limited at best.” It’s safe to say I learned most of my technical skills from somebody else. Despite this, every skill I have that has made me stand out from others over the years WAS learned from her. And there’s nothing technical about them.

Career Lessons from Mom

Your technical skills get you hired but your soft skills are what keep you hired and allow you to advance. I’ve said that to every class at every tech school I’ve ever visited. I learned the truth of that lesson myself over decades working with people possessing far more “craft” than I do. However, I learned the skills themselves from a life spent as my mother’s child. I had no idea they would all be relevant to life in the trades as well.

Work Ethic – My mom never missed a day of work unless she was physically unable to work. She’s never paid another person to do a job she could do herself. She does extra so others can do less. And she never complains about it. Unsurprisingly, she’s consistently viewed as an indispensable team member.

Organization – No matter how many events, projects, parties, or tasks my mom must juggle she never drops the ball. Calendars on the fridge, post-its in her purse, and notes in her phone all help my mom keep her work (and life) properly prioritized and on-schedule. Her rigorous planning means she rarely wastes time or effort and is universally assumed to be always on-point.

Punctuality – Being late doesn’t make you a bad person but it can make for some bad problems – especially when it comes to your employment. Being early never cost anybody anything except a few extra minutes. Show up everywhere early with something to fill your time and you’ll always be there when it matters. Do it enough and people will notice. My mother’s adherence to this principle didn’t just result in a good reputation. Punctuality means she is never the one seeking out critical information that was missed, but frequently is the one dispensing it.

Photo of young office woman looking on her watch while sitting at the meeting table surrounded by office equipment and her colleagues. Being punctual.

Communication – Sharing blood doesn’t mean that you share a communication style. That’s certainly true in my family. But whether my mom “speaks my language” or not, she still needs me to receive her information and provide mine to her in a manner we both can absorb. This means she’s constantly trying out new phrasing, imagery, and tools. She even got a Snapchat account to continue that effort with her next generation of communication failures (her grandkids). This commitment to communication has allowed her to understand (and be understood by) many generations of different ages, races, creeds, genders, etc. It has also kept her professionally relevant well into her fifth decade in the workforce. 

technology, old age and people concept - happy smiling senior woman taking selfie or having video call at summer garden

Professional Pride – Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability and then stand by it. This is true regardless of whether the final result ends up being good or bad. If you try your hardest and own your work, you will benefit by either an increase in esteem (external factor) or knowledge (internal factor). Both will always benefit your career. Knowing this has allowed my mom to change with the times to continue to provide the same quality of education to students today as she first did so many years ago, throughout very different eras.

This Mother’s Day I hope you all take the time to think about what your own mom has done to help form the person and professional you’ve become. Then tell her why and make sure to say “thank you”. She deserves it. If those of you who are mothers would like to further influence your child by getting them to think about a career in the trades, that’s a great idea! I can’t think of a better way to celebrate this holiday (and the trades) than by having a conversation with mom.

The core of FlexTrades’ business is addressing the skills gap in manufacturing. This is a big undertaking when one considers that the latest analysis shows a skills gap of 2.1 million unfilled manufacturing jobs by the year 2030.

But the skills gap isn’t just something occurring in manufacturing. It’s happening across all industries, so what can employers and employees do to combat this issue? Upskill!  

What is Upskilling?

Upskilling is a term used to describe the process by which employers provide learning and training opportunities to develop the skills and experience of their employees.

Upskilling can also be done on an individual level. This happens when an employee finds, and takes, opportunities to learn new skills while increasing their marketability as a candidate.  

Upskilling – What Does it Mean for Employers?

What is Upskilling? 

As an employer, the first step towards upskilling (and ensuring the success of upskilling) is to understand that it takes a shift in culture.

Upskilling is a long-term investment, and it’s important for company leadership to make upskilling a priority.

Employees are always wondering what they can do next, and without commitment from management and executive leadership, they will look to grow somewhere else. Need proof? Just look at the great resignation

Right behind low pay, the biggest reason an employee leaves a job is because they can’t see (or aren’t given) opportunities for advancement. It is critical that the right upskilling opportunities are being created by, and talked about, across the company. Even though employees want to be given room to grow, they don’t always know what upskilling means or how to make it happen.  

Some great ways to create an upskilling program as an employer include:  

  • Allow employees to “own” their career and then ensure management supports that while the company enables it.  
  • Empower your employees to speak openly about opportunities they want or need.  
  • Invite employees to participate in tasks or projects outside of their department.  
  • Ask your workforce what they want, what their goals and interests are, and where they want to go.  
  • Ensure that there are formal programs available, through HR or Learning & Development, that allow for upskilling on the job to meet employee needs.  

Employers – How to Upskill

What is Upskilling 

There are a number of ways to upskill your employees… or yourself. Consider the following:  

  • On-the-job Training, Mentoring, Job Shadowing, And Peer Coaching: You might not think you have the time to execute the above, but think about this. Finding the time to train a new employee when a current employee departs is a lot harder than upskilling.
  • Hire External Experts or Specialists: This could ease your concerns about finding the time to train and upskill, but it might have a steeper price tag than in-house training.
  • Job Rotation: Move employees between jobs in an organization to build skills, knowledge, and competencies. 
  • Provide Additional Responsibilities to Employees: Be careful with this one. If it doesn’t meet the employee’s desire for upskilling, it will be considered “extra work” and will not benefit you or the employee.  
  • Provide Virtual Courses (e-learning) with a LMS (Learning Management System): Provide courses available to employees during their own time and courses assigned by the company (and considered required). It can be beneficial to reward your employees for taking these, whether that be free lunch one day, PTO hours earned, or a financial reward of some sort. Provide opportunities for formal education or training with a third party, educational institute, or something similar.
  • Road Map the Path From One Company Role to the Next: Be clear about what next level work and jobs require from a skills perspective. Encourage employees to self-analyze their skills against those, ensure management does the same thing, and reward progress or milestones. This puts ownership on both the employee and the employer. Having a clear path of expectations for progression within a company makes it easier to determine how to get there.  
  • Request Feedback on Training, Learning, Development & Upskilling Effort: It might seem that you’re doing a good job once you start upskilling, but if you don’t know if the efforts are working for your employees, you’ll still find them leaving for other opportunities.

Employees – How to Upskill

What is Upskilling (2)  

If you’ve made it this far and are looking to upskill yourself, than you probably have some solid ideas on what you should be doing, right?  

Request Upskilling Opportunities From Your Employer

The first thing you need to do is have an idea of what “upskilling” means to you – what do you want to learn, why do you want to learn it, what are some ways your employer can help you learn it, and in what way can it be provided? These are all great questions.  

Upskill Yourself

  • Don’t count on others to do all the work. Upskilling is just as much about you as it is your employer. Go out there, find the ways in which you can upskill yourself, and do it!  
  • Take a free or paid for course (online or in-person).  
  • Hire a career coach or mentor.  
  • Conduct interviews with those in your industry or roles about what they do and what you can do to get to that level.  
  • Join groups or become a member of associations in your trade or industry.  
  • Map out your career – where are you now, where do you want to be, and what is required at all the stages in between? 
  • Spend some of your free time learning on an individual basis. Start small with microlearning and build up from there.  
  • Research other opportunities. See what other employers are doing – do they have clear career paths with milestones for their employees? Do they have an LMS or course-based learning opportunities?  

What You Put Into It

Upskilling is an investment in time, energy, and cost. If you’re a manufacturer who would like to upskill but still need to fill a temporary skills gap, contact FlexTrades today.

Likewise, if you’re a skilled technician, you can join our team because working across the United States, with a variety of manufacturers, is a surefire way to upskill yourself!

Thanks for taking the time, and we look forward to hearing from you soon.  

Mindfulness Matters:

The origins of mindfulness practices are commonly thought to have started in Buddhism. If that were the case, the concept of mindfulness would date back to around 2,500 years ago. However, it is believed the Yogic Practices of the Hindu religion began between 2,300 BC and 1,500 BC in the Indus Valley, near modern-day Pakistan, therefore preceding Buddhism.

The practice of mindfulness can become a life-changing experience. This practice will allow you to reduce stress and become more alert while bringing a feeling of relaxation.

Mindfulness can be practiced in many ways including taking walks and even washing your hands. Let’s take the next few moments to discuss some of my best mindfulness practices geared towards those that travel for work and those who work from home.


What is Mindfulness & Why Is It Important (1)

As a woman of color from Chicago who practices mindfulness, I can say that this holistic approach to my life has been a game changer.  I have moved from reading mindfully to becoming a Chakra Balancing Reiki Master. 

I was introduced to the concept of mindfulness many years before I realized it was mindfulness. In fact, my very first encounter with a mindful practice happened while reading Conversations with Godby Neale Donald Walsch. I began to pay closer attention to what I was reading, while meditating on the words as I read them, all while being open to the possibility of having an experience similar to what Walsch describes in his book. 

After practicing mindfulness while reading, other mindfulness practices entered my life over time. I became aware of what mindfulness meant. With this awareness, I was attracted to meditation, chakras, even yoga (although I have not mastered the art of practicing yoga, but I’m still trying). Eventually, I learned several ways of practicing mindfulness as the years advanced, a few of which I’d like to share with you now.

How to Practice Mindfulness:

What is Mindfulness & Why Is It Important (2)

Let’s go through some easiest ways to practice mindfulness no matter where you are.

One of the best-known mindfulness practices today is meditation. Meditation is one of the earliest forms of mindfulness. The amazing thing about meditation is that you can do it anywhere, anytime, and with practically anything. It’s as simple as deciding to be present; meaning acknowledging what you are doing in that very moment and being aware of things like breathing. Here, let’s take a stab at it.

  • Take a deep breath in through your nose.
  • Hold this breath.
  • Exhale slowly through your mouth.

This small breathing exercise can be done anywhere and at any time. Do this six times a day and watch your life change!

The next mindfulness practice is walking. Each step you take, pay attention to the way you place one foot in front of the other. Notice the way your arms move with each step. Notice the gravity that’s keeping you grounded. Now, notice the smells around you or the sounds. These actions are considered moving meditation and they add to mindfulness practices. Other mindfulness exercises are rooted in eating and drinking. An example would be using your opposite hand to eat, drink, and / or brush your teeth.

Each example provided will allow you to become present. The more you practice mindfulness, the more you will reduce anxiety about the future. It can also help you stop from dwelling on the past.

We do these practices daily, and by being aware of these actions, you will begin to have your own mindful moments.

The more mindfulness you practice, the less irritable you will be, the more tolerant you will become, and the better you will cope with whatever is going on in your life.

Take some time to be mindful today. You deserve it!


  • Chakra: Various energy centers in your body that correspond to specific nerve bundles and internal organs.
  • Reiki: An energy healing technique that promotes relaxation, reduces stress and anxiety through gentle touch.
  • Meditate: Think deeply or carefully about something.
  • Mindfulness: “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” ~UMN.EDU

Source: Blinkist Magazine; Amy Leonard

National Donor Day: Awareness

Did you know National Donor Day was on February 14? The purpose of this day is to educate people about the importance of organ, eye, and tissue donation. It’s also the perfect time to show some love for people waiting for organ transplants.  

We dedicate this day to recognizing those individuals who have given, or received, the gift of life through donation; to those who are currently awaiting a transplant and to those who have passed while waiting for an organ donation. But February 14th does not have to be the only day of the year we recognize donors. 

It’s estimated that more than 121,000 people are currently waiting for an organ transplant in the United States. Did you know that the average wait time for a kidney is four years? It also takes about nine years to receive a heart. Everyone will experience different wait times based on priority and availability.  

Save a Life & Join the National Donor Registry (1)

What We Can Do 

One way to make a difference is by registering, and encouraging others to register, as a donor. Another way is to give blood. Blood is crucial for surgeries and can aid in saving lives. And here’s a fun fact — three people can be saved with a single pint of blood!  

Sign Up for the National Donate Life Registry

Take charge of the legacy you will leave behind. One organ donor can save as many as eight lives! Register here. 

We all know long-distance relationships aren’t easy, and adding in the holidays makes them seem impossible. I’m going to share a few personal date-night ideas to help make your Valentine’s Day special while traveling on the road. 

Why Write About This? 

Well, I’ve lived it.

My partner and I have been best friends for four years, two of which we were apart. I lived in Minnesota and constantly traveled. He lived in New York and sadly that wasn’t one of my destinations at the time. We faced constant time zone changes and alternating work schedules. We tried to combat this with phone calls, Facetime, game nights and all-day texts — the time just didn’t feel like enough. So, we started to think of ways to spend time together while we were apart. 

I wanted to write this for our traveling Technicians to help provide ideas for their Valentine’s Day plans… and beyond. As a part of our travel team, you all have the luxury of knowing your exact schedule and shift; giving you the perfect amount of time to plan and work with your significant other’s schedule. Here are some fun and affordable date night ideas (and a gift or two) to try out! 

You Can’t Go Wrong With Sweets 

What’s a good date night without a beloved snack? Thanks to new additions, DoorDash and UberEats can save you time. With this, you won’t have to order ahead. Check out their gifting section and find both “next” and “same day” delivery options. They have everything from flowers and monster-sized cookies to chocolates and edible cookie dough. Add notes and pick your preferred time of delivery to surprise your special someone. 

What is a Bond Bracelet? 

If you’re not struggling with a date night idea but are trying to think of a spendy gift, consider grabbing a Bond Bracelet. Bond bracelets are sold in pairs and catered to long distance relationships. Each band is customizable and will light up when your significant other taps the screen. Think of this as a new way to say, “Hey, I’m thinking about you,” and spicing up the way you say good morning. You can even create your own personal code to send back and forth. This gift is a great way to show each other you are thinking about each other throughout the day.  

Now, Let’s Talk Food 

Virtual taste testing is similar to wine tasting but instead focuses on both of you. Make a list of your favorite appetizers together and then run to the store. When you get home, unpack and create your infamous couple’s appetizer plate. Try each other’s favorites. Give opinions and catch up while sipping on your drink of choice. This is a great, quick mini date for those who may have tight schedules. 

We’re Still Talking Food… With a Twist 

You’ve got your appetizer plate, but do you want to do something a little different? Try a scavenger hunt! Guide your partner through their town on FaceTime and run through a checklist. This can include some of their favorite places, or perhaps you can even surprise them with a spa day. All you have to do is give them directions — the sky is the limit with this idea! Write up a grocery list and have them shop. When they get home, you both can cook together and have dinner (Bonus points if you use Zoom and set your backgrounds to a dreamy vacation setting and escape together)! 

You Can’t Beat a Good Movie 

Thankfully, with advancement in technology, we don’t have to rely solely on movie theaters and being in the same exact space. All you need to do is launch Teleparty. This browser can capture any popular streaming app and allows both of you to watch a new (or old favorite) movie together! This includes applications like Netflix, HBOMax, Hulu and many others. So, get comfortable wherever you are, start a phone call and watch the movie together! 

My ALL Time Favorite – Listen to Music 

Music is one of my favorite things. To this day, the first thing I do when I log onto my computer is open Spotify and pick my mood playlist for the day (Today is “Happy Chill” for those who are wondering). Create your own Spotify playlist for your significant other. Think of songs that remind you of them. Name it something quirky or meaningful and get started. Include a variety of songs; songs you’ve heard together and / or songs that remind you of them. Then share the playlist once it’s complete. You can even make it special by listening to it together! 

Long Distance is About Connecting Beyond Technology 

Technology may make constant communication easier, but it can also be very tiring when you’re missing home.

Take some of these tips and think of some of your own to guide you through your contract before you take well-earned time off. It’ll help you transition into future work confidently as a family and take some of that new-traveling stress off your plate.