Traveling for business; you either love it or you hate it. Much of that depends on your life’s circumstances… whether or not you have a family, and whether or not you can get over tight airplanes and strange hotels and still explore new locations. Put differently, a new parent of two probably won’t enjoy having to leave them behind nearly as much as a middle-aged professional whose kids have moved out or a new professional straight out of college with little to no commitments. But often, we don’t have a choice. If your job requires you travel, you do it, whether you enjoy or despise it.
No matter the situation, business travel can be tedious and stressful. Changing hotel rooms, time zones, along with tight schedules, can make rest and enjoyment difficult to come by. To increase your enjoyment and maximize your time, follow these tips for having fun while staying productive in your business travel.
1) Research Your Destinations
First things first: You need to know where going. This is especially helpful because it allows you to understand just what your possibilities are once you arrive at your destination. For instance, a business trip to Atlanta might not sound enticing at first. But upon research, you discover some intriguing possibilities, such as the Olympic Park or the Georgia Aquarium. Depending on the timing of your trip, you might even be able to take in a Falcons or Hawks game! In addition to finding activities that help break up the monotony of your trip, one benefit of this research is also the activity itself. Simply looking for restaurants and things to do around your hotel gets you excited about the upcoming business trip.
2) Understand Your Schedule
Of course, the options your destination offers matter little if the activity can’t fit into your schedule. That’s why, as early as possible, it makes sense to gain a better understanding of exactly when you have to be where, and why. Here, a comprehensive view makes the most sense. An 8 am meeting or presentation does not just have implications for that day, but also the prior evening. A back-loaded schedule, on the other hand, may conflict with the opening hours of some attractions or starting times of events. The more you know about your schedule, the better. And that includes informal activities; for instance, you might be invited to a business dinner with your colleagues or other stakeholders. Map out the duration of your stay to maximize your productivity and enjoy leisure activities.
3) Plan Your Travel Route
Once you know your schedule, the next best step is to plan how you will actually get where you need to be and how long it will take. That’s because, even though you might not realize it, this time can also present some underrated opportunities for enjoyment and relaxation. For instance, you may find the opportunity to relax and start that book you’ve been wanting to read during a long layover. Or you can watch catch up on your most recent Netflix show in your 20 minutes Uber back to the hotel. Knowing your routes will allow you to map out enjoyable and productive ways to spend this time.
All of the above already hints to a single truth: during any business trip, making time for some activities that have nothing to do with your job or the purpose of your travel is possible with some planning. As long as these activities don’t interfere with your duties or schedule, they are a crucial way to alleviate stress, enjoy the trip, and take advantage of visiting different locations. This introduces “bleisure,” which has become an especially popular term in recent years. A combination of the words business and leisure, it describes travel that is an equal part of both—and has the potential to not only work on getting ahead at your job but also toward other life goals.
6) Bring a Guest
As you’re increasing the leisure scale on your trip, why not enjoy it with someone you care about? A major reason seasoned professionals begin to avoid business trips is that it keeps them away from their loved ones. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, most companies allow for additional travelers as long as their expenses are paid privately and they do not disrupt the purpose of the trip. You can take your significant other, family, or close friends in order to enjoy a new location together while minimizing the negative feelings you would otherwise have about your travels.
7) Minimize Stress Factors
Finally, an important factor that can help you stay productive and enjoy your business travel—minimizing stress factors. You can accomplish this in a few ways. Simply turning on your email and phone away message might help, even if you still answer urgent messages as needed. Thorough preparation before the trip, such as plenty of practice for a big presentation also can be a huge help in reducing stress. Other potential factors include setting a routine that is similar to your everyday life. If you work out at home, try to make time for it during your trip. Eat during your regular times, and plan in buffers for unforeseen events. The more you can normalize the trip for your everyday schedule, the less stress you will experience.
Whether you love or hate the business trips that can define your career, you have the opportunity to improve your experience. The key to business travel success is minimizing stress while balancing productivity with leisure. By following these tips, you will undoubtedly have more fun and be more productive on your next business trip.