Business trips don’t have to be all about work. There’s a way to strike the perfect balance of business and leisure (hence the term “bleisure”) and it’s a trend that’s becoming more and more popular among travelers.
A new study shows that 60% of business trips are being converted to bleisure, with travelers taking an average of more than six business trips per year. Traveling for work is now a prime opportunity to maximize vacation time, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Learn how to make time for yourself with these travel tips, and you’ll be able to blend vacation and business like a pro!
Know the rules
First things first, make sure you know your company’s policies on travel. Some companies may give you a fixed per diem meal allowance, or you may have a corporate credit card for certain expenditures. Before you leave town, read through the guidelines so you know what can and cannot be reimbursed through the company.
Sign up for rewards and loyalty programs
Earning points and miles is a no-brainer for business travelers. Join loyalty programs for airlines and rental cars so you can start accumulating rewards and perks. If your credit card doesn’t earn you similar travel perks, it might be worth looking into! (My card earns me double points on travel expenses and can be redeemed towards airfaire, hotels, car rentals and cruises. Plus, I don’t get charged fees for using the card outside the US.)
When you’re combining business and leisure travel, it’s best to be open about your plans with your coworkers and bosses. Don’t let them find out about it from social media first! Full transparency is always the way to go.
Travel outside the box
Plenty of bleisure trips can begin and end in the same city, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. More than 80% of the travelers surveyed said they would be willing to extend their business trip beyond the city they started in. If you’re not enthused about your destination, you can always look at it as a launching point for the next leg of your trip.
Bring a travel companion
Depending on the nature of your business trip (as well as your company policy), you might be able to bring your family, significant other, or a friend with you. It’s a great way to consolidate your travel expenses, and you can always plan your trip beginning or ending with a weekend so you can have more time to explore together.
Pack versatile clothes
The best bleisure outfits are ones that can easily translate from morning to night. They’re work-appropriate for daytime but can also transition into evening with minimal changes. Pack clothes that you can mix and match, as well as ones that are comfortable enough to wear on your free time.
Research in advance
Use travel blogs, Pinterest, and Instagram location tags to research the things you want to do in your destination before you leave. That way once you’re there, you can finish your work and head straight into the fun activities without spending time deciding what to do next.
Ask for recommendations
Do your homework beforehand, but once you’re there, you should also ask around for recommendations from your colleagues or clients who live there. You’ll get a local’s perspective, and you may get lucky and discover some hidden gems outside the regular tourist traps!
Work first, play later
Remember that first and foremost, you are there to work. Bleisure travel is fun, but it’s all about balance and knowing how to manage your time. Be present no matter what it is you’re doing—if you’re in a meeting, be fully absorbed in your work; if you’re off the clock, enjoy every minute of your leisure time.
Figure out transportation
Not all cities are suited for rental cars, and not all cities have the best public transportation. Find out which will be the most efficient way to get around your destination, so you can go from work to play and avoid wasting time in transit.
Take a tour
Since time is usually limited on bleisure trips, city tours are a fast way to see the highlights. I always choose a food tour in a new destination. You get a great overview of the city, delicious tastings of all the best food, plus the tour guide can provide suggestions of what you should do next during your stay.
Write a thank you note
After you get back to the office, take the time to write a thank you note to your colleagues from the trip that either took you out for a meal or gave you great recommendations of where to go and what to do. Not only is it polite, it will also help build ongoing relationships and leave a positive impression.
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