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The Subtle Art of Mixing Business and Pleasure

By Cordelia Solomon

Business travel can be one of the greatest benefits of a job. Sure it can get exhausting being on a plane every two weeks, spending the majority of your time away in meetings with limited “me” time. But, if you can find the silver lining (you’re on a company-paid trip!), then you’re halfway to your next great adventure!

Without disregarding the business nature of the trip, here are a few ways to make the travel worthwhile on a personal level, too.

No Extra Days? No Problem!

Don’t have the luxury of taking a few extra days on the front or tail end of a work trip? No worries! There are plenty of ways you can still make it vacation-like and discover your locale.

Be Creative and Plan Ahead

If you’re an active person, skip the gym, and instead, opt for a morning run (or walk) and discover the city while also getting in your work out! Run freely through the streets, weave in and out of different neighborhoods, and keep your eyes peeled for the city’s famous landmarks. Try doing this without any music so you can be completely present and immersed in your surroundings, allowing you to have a truly introspective experience as you discover, or rediscover, a city.

If running isn’t your thing, or if you want more, do some research ahead of time, you’ll be surprised to find that there are plenty of cultural experiences to indulge in the evenings. For example, in Rome the Colosseum offers night tours and in Istanbul the Galata Tower is open well into the evening.

Location, Location, Location

When picking a hotel, you, of course, want to make sure that getting to and from your work obligations will be easy. But, don’t forget to consider what sites, museums, and restaurants are around the area either. You’ll likely have some personal time before or after meetings when you can go check out a major landmark or pop into a museum. Staying at a hotel that is located near several “must see” spots, will make it much easier for you to incorporate some elements of vacation into your trip.

Now, if you can...Extend that Shi*t!

Finding time to travel can be a challenge, not to mention, it's expensive! So why not add a couple days to a business trip? Take advantage of the fact that your company has flown you to Europe or South America or Australia and go somewhere on your bucket list!

But First, Housekeeping

Every company’s T&E policy is different, so make sure you know what yours is before booking anything. While some companies are super flexible and simply ask that you only expense items from the business portion of the trip, others have stricter policies. For example, if you’re flying out of a different city on the return, your company may require you to pay the difference in airfare. While not ideal, this shouldn’t stop you from taking off.

PTO or no PTO, go!

If your in the camp of unlimited PTO, it’s a no-brainer -- take days off around business travel and plan a trip, even if it’s just an extended weekend. Not everyone has the benefit of unlimited PTO, though, and those that don’t know how precious these days are. But, that shouldn’t stop you from extending work trips. In fact, you can often get a two for one deal by sandwiching your business trip between two weekend adventures, without taking a single day off!

If your work obligations don’t last the full week, don’t just assume you have to come back. Ask your boss if you can work remotely on the other days; chances are he/she will be fine with it.

Picking the Right Destination(s)

Picking the right destinations to visit is key, especially if you can’t take time off. Make sure that they are places that are easy to get to and from where you business travel is taking you. Since you’ll already be tight on time, you’ll want to waste as little of it on a train or plane. For example, if you’re traveling to London for work, spending the weekend before in Paris and the weekend after in Amsterdam would be a perfect plan.

There are so many ways to make a business trip vacation-like. So, next time you’re tired after a long day of meetings, fight the temptation to hole-up in your hotel room. Instead, embrace the fact that you’re in an incredible locale, whether it's going for a ride on the London Eye, checking out the Robot Cafe, or seeing the Eiffel Tower, chances are that there is something nearby for you to do!

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