Business trips are first and foremost for business, but who’s to say you can’t take advantage of an opportunity to enjoy a destination while you are already there? I travel for work 3-4 times a month, mostly around the state of Florida, and I can’t stand spending too much time in hotel rooms, so I make an effort to get out and explore the area I am in as much as I can, and I’m not the only one who is doing it. 73% of millennials rate leisure time on business travel as important, according to last year’s MMGY Global survey on American travelers.
So whether you are traveling for work to Naples, Italy or Naples, Florida, here are five tips for business travelers who want to make the most of their work trips:
1. Sign up for loyalty programs, and stick to them. If you travel often for work, sticking with the same brand whenever possible can literally pay off. Brands are doing a lot to win over loyalty customers these days, and it’s definitely something that is worth taking advantage of. I personally have three loyalty programs I participate in – Delta SkyMiles, Hilton Honors, and Enterprise Plus; I spend company dollars on accommodations and transportation, and I get loyalty points for every dollar they spend. Build those points up to help pay for a leisure trip!
2. Location is key. If you are able to book your own accommodations, take advantage of that, and pick a hotel that is conveniently located nearby to things you would be interested in doing outside of work. Most work trips don’t allow a whole lot of downtime; so you have to use it wisely. The farther away something is from my hotel room, the less likely I am to drum up the energy to make the effort to go see it. For example, if I am staying in a coastal location, I always try to book a hotel that is within walking distance to the beach, if not right on it. That way, even if I only have a couple of hours to myself, I am still able to enjoy the beach.
3. Explore the possibility of extending the trip. Are you traveling on a Friday or a Monday? Why not visit your destination for the whole weekend? Traveling somewhere for work is a good excuse to spend a little extra money on your own to stay for a couple of additional days on the weekend. If your company is paying for your transportation to and from the destination and for your accommodations on the days you are working, it’s only an extra night or two to pay for. Last year, I had to work on a Friday in New Orleans, so I ended up extending the trip to span the entire weekend, and invited the hubs. It was worth it!
4. Eat local. I know how tempting it can be to order room service for every meal, especially when you have been working all day, and food is on the company’s dime, but eating at local restaurants is a great way to experience the destination you are in. Eating with a client from the area? Even better – ask them their favorite local spot; that’s a win-win for everyone!
5. Plan ahead, but also be flexible. I know, it sounds contradictory, but with leisure time being limited on business trips, you really have to plan which couple of things you would like to do or see while you are in the destination before you actually get there. That being said, if things don’t go according to plan, and you have more or less free time than you originally thought, you have to be flexible! On business trips, work has to come first, I get that. Meetings run long, presentations turn into hour-long Q&A sessions, and conferences turn into an entire night of networking. Been there, done all of them. Sometimes you can’t do it all, but you almost always will have the choice to do something.
At the end of the day, work travel is only as exciting or boring as you make it. Blending business and pleasure is something anyone who travels for work can do, as long as you have the motivation to do it. So get out of the hotel room, and take in the full experience!