Business Travel Doesn't Have To Be All Business
Brace yourself for an all-too-typical business travel scenario that will probably hit way too close to home:
“I’m off to Paris on business” you tell your family and friends, who "ooh" and "ahh" and "ooh-la-la" with instant jealousy.
“You’re so lucky!” they say. “I wish I got paid to travel” they say.
But you know the truth: the second you de-plane, all you’ll be seeing of Paris is the inside of your hotel room, the inside of a board room, and – if you’re lucky – the Maitre’D at the nearest restaurant (y’know – the one inside your hotel).
The truth is that for many business travellers, the business side of things almost always trumps the travel element, no matter how exotic the destination.
But you can fight back!
Even with a schedule packed with meetings and events, it’s possible to have the kind of travel experience your friends and family are imagining.
Here’s how to make the most out of your (severely) limited free time when travelling on business:
Tip 1: Take Control of Your Meetings
If you have any say in where you meet clients, take the lead and suggest a local place you’ve been dying to discover.
Instead of cowering inside the boring hotel ballroom, schedule lunch at a restaurant you’ve been meaning to try, or hold a ‘walk and talk’ meeting in a park, museum, or outdoor market.
You’ll get to experience your destination as a tourist while simultaneously fulfilling your work obligations. Plus, your creativity will be amplified by your exciting surroundings and fresh ideas will flow like water.
Tip 2: Skip Non-Mandatory Events
When attending conferences and retreats, skip any on-site events that aren’t absolutely mandatory to your business dealings.
Instead, use the time to explore your surroundings, join a group tour, sample local food, or get completely, deliciously lost.
Is there someone or a group of someone’s you absolutely need to network with?
No sweat! Invite them to play hooky with you and bond over your mutual love of the non-business side of travel.
Tip 3: Pad Your Flight Schedule
Whenever possible, add an extra day or two to the beginning and end of your business trip. Doing so will help alleviate jet lag, allowing you to enjoy the time you do have without feeling completed exhausted.
Flying in early or flying out late will also increase your focus on work-related tasks in the interim. Knowing that you’ve already seen the sites (or will have time to see them later) will reduce stress and alleviate that frustrated feeling of “missing out.”
Do what you can to wrap up meetings early, work swiftly, and increase the amount of time you can spend exploring once you’re finished.
Business travel doesn’t have to mean a never-ending sentence to hotel-room prison. With a bit of extra pre-planning, you can turn a successful business trip into a rewarding cultural experience.
Remember to schedule meetings in unique destinations, skip non-mandatory events, and schedule extra time before and after work obligations so you have a chance to enjoy your exciting surroundings.
Rebekah Voss is an author, travel writer, and the creator of TheHappyPassport.com.
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