Your first few business trips were exciting because they got you out of the daily grind. But now, you’re a pro at the work/travel gig, and you’re ready to add some fun to your next out-of-town assignment.
Traveling for a job doesn’t always feel like a vacation. Although you’re exploring parts unknown to you before, and it’s paid for, you’re tied down to the work itinerary.
However, once you know the business agenda and have a better idea of what will be your time, you can plan ways to mix business travel with pleasure. It’s easy to do when you throw in these five clever tricks to optimize your professional trip.
1. Add Time to the Trip
Whoever schedules the transportation and lodging for your trip focuses on being efficient with cost and time. They want to minimize expenses while still respecting your off-hours schedule.
For that reason, the travel itinerary is likely tight. You’ll get to the hotel the night before or the morning of your meeting and leave right after everything is done. Why not add some wiggle room into the trip if your schedule allows it?
As an example, if your trip is Wednesday through Friday, staying through the weekend won’t make you miss work. Ask the travel manager if it’s possible to get a return flight that Sunday if you pay for lodging yourself the extra nights. You’ll have two more days to relax at your leisure.
Whatever you can do to squeeze in a few extra hours (or days) into the trip may be worth the out-of-pocket cost if it gives you the relaxation you need.
2. Ask for Some Say in the Hotel
Unless your company lets you call all the travel shots, you probably think you’re stuck with where they send you. However, if you ask, you may get to have a say in where you stay.
Typically, if there’s a conference, the travel manager will try to book you at the same hotel as the meeting. It’s convenient for you, and they probably get a discounted rate.
Find out where they plan to book your room and do a little research. If there’s nothing interesting around within walking distance, look for hotels or an Airbnb near the conference but closer to entertainment. If you can find one in the same price range, your employer may be willing to book you there instead.
3. Explore the Area With Your Coworkers
Not everyone is comfortable branching out in new places alone. And, let’s face it, that’s not always safe, either.
If you’ve met someone and clicked with them, or you’re there with coworkers you know, ask them if they have plans after the day’s work is over. Let them know what you’re interested in doing and see if they want to tag along.
It’s a great way to add some team building to the trip while getting to see the sights, too.
4. Take Some Time for Yourself
Even if you don’t feel comfortable going to dinner or walking the streets alone, you should still make time to do something solitary.
Wake up early and sit on the balcony to watch the sunrise. Walk down to the beach if you’re around one and enjoy the sunset. Take a walk in a safe area and absorb the sights and sounds of a new place.
Whatever you decide to do, let yourself be off-duty for a little while. Shut off your phone and avoid anything work-related. Who knows when you’ll have this quiet time to yourself again once you get back to your normal routine?
By using this trip as a chance to reset your brain, you’ll be able to return to your regular schedule with a clearer mind and lower stress level.
5. Let Yourself Go With the Flow
Are you a Type-A personality who has to control every aspect of the day? Traveling can make this difficult, if not impossible, which increases your stress and frustration.
The next time you have a trip planned, make a promise to yourself that you’ll go with the flow.
Delayed flight? Nothing you can do about it but make the best of your time.
Overslept? Brush your teeth, throw your hair in a ponytail (if applicable), and call someone to let them know you’ll be late. Don’t rush or get frazzled.
You aren’t the first or last person to be late to a business meeting. How you handle it with decorum and professionalism makes all the difference.
When you let yourself go with the flow, you enjoy the moments rather than worrying about things you can’t control.
Instead of packing and planning like you’re stuck on a business trip, switch your perspective and your itinerary.
When you optimize your travel plans to add in time for you, the next professional getaway you have can be fun, too!