By Henry Moore
If you frequently travel for business, you may be growing weary of the meet and greets, formal lunches and dinners, and hours of listening to speakers. While these activities are important for networking and professional development, they aren’t always fun. Fortunately, there are some ways to jazz up a business trip and give yourself some time to enjoy the sights and attractions. We share a few tips for making a business trip more enjoyable below in the hopes that you may look forward to your next excursion a little more.
Arrive Early or Leave Late
One of the best ways to give yourself time to explore a new city is to arrive early or leave the day after your business concludes. Many business trips include early meetings at 8 or 9 am, so give yourself some free time by arriving the afternoon or evening before your meetings start or adding a vacation day at the end of your business days. (Travel tip: If you arrive ahead of other business travelers, you should ask to be upgraded to a larger room or bed; hotels are happy to honor these wishes for early arrivals when they have extra rooms.)
Of course, safety is of the essence if you plan to arrive early or leave late, so don’t tell anyone that you are traveling alone. It’s also a good idea to check in with hotel staff at the front desk and ask them to highlight a map of the area to show you which spots are safe and which to avoid if you plan to venture out on your own.
Check Reviews to Find Fun Local Hot Spots or Special Treats
Once you’re off the clock, you can explore your surroundings a bit. Find a place to hike, a museum to check out, or unwind in a local pub or restaurant that’s a bit off the beaten tourist path. Check for reviews on sites such as Yelp or TripAdvisor, which enable you to filter your search results and find exactly what you’re looking for. Better yet, they include reviews from travelers just like you who offer tips on the best times to visit the establishments, favorite menu items, and the features that make certain establishments the place to visit.
The staff at your hotel may also be able to offer insider tips on the best local cuisine. After all, one of the best ways to get a feel for the local cuisine is to get first-hand accounts from people who live and work in the area. They can direct you to food trucks, street stalls, local markets, and other places that may not be on a traveler’s radar. Just be sure to check with the vendors to make sure you are safe to eat the food if you are in a foreign country.
Make Plans with a LinkedIn Contact
Chances are, you will be in the vicinity of a LinkedIn contact on your next business trip. Networking in person can be much more powerful than networking online, so make plans to meet with a LinkedIn contact that you have been chatting with via email or messages. You may just be treated to drinks, meals, or a night on the town by local contacts who know how to make sure you have some fun when you are off the clock.
Go Window Shopping
If you have a light itinerary for the first or last day of your business trip, do some window shopping. You may want to invite a new business contact along if you have hit it off during breakout sessions. Perhaps you both have children for whom you want to buy souvenirs, or you’re both dying to visit boutiques and shops that are unique to the area you are visiting for business. Window shopping will give you a chance to stretch your legs, explore the shopping district of a new city, and pick up some new trends or gifts for loved ones.
Check here for some great tips on solo travel that may come in handy on your next business trip, as well. If you’re traveling in a group, this article has some good ones. Either way, it is possible for you to have fun on your next business trip if you schedule some free time, rely on reviews or locals to guide you to local hot spots or special treats, make plans to meet up with a LinkedIn contact, and go window shopping.
Henry Moore is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler. The site blends two of his favorite subjects (travel and health) to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both.