Many business professionals loathe business travel. Sure, when you’re younger, business travel can be exciting—you’ve been tapped by the boss to represent your company and it’s a big ego boost. But after years on the road, it can be draining. You miss birthdays, anniversaries and important family functions. However, with the growing trend of “bleisure” travel, it doesn’t have to be all bad. Here are a few ideas to make the most of your travel by mixing pleasure with business trips and really embracing everything that is bleisure travel.
One of our key travel strategies is to piggyback vacation onto business trips. In this way, your employer pays your airfare and you’re only responsible for your extra meals and accommodations during your vacation time. This is probably the best thing you can do to mix business and pleasure because, essentially, your employer pays for part of your vacation!
If we have an international business trip, we usually try to squeeze an extra 4-7 days of sightseeing in. If it’s a domestic trip, we try to make a long weekend of it. Over the years, we’ve learned that nearly every destination has something worth seeing. So, if you’re being sent on a business trip, see what’s nearby that might be interesting to do for a few days.
Plan Your Flights Carefully
You can plan your flights to get a little extra time to explore a destination. Consider taking the first flight of the day or a redeye flight. These minor schedule adjustments can give you an extra few hours to do some sightseeing. Since you don’t need an extra hotel night, there’s usually no incremental cost, and you still have a little time for yourself. As a bonus, these off-peak flights are usually cheaper for your company, so your boss or finance department will almost always green light it.
Know Your Company’s Expense Policy
Most companies have an expense policy that allows employees a modest stipend for leisure activities on business trips (it’s usually something like $5-10 per day). This isn’t going to send you golfing or to have a grand time at Disneyworld, but you can use the credit to visit a museum or do something cultural in your destination. If you have this benefit, use it!
Travel Loyalty Programs
Frequent flyer and hotel points are a benefit of business travel, and you can use these rewards for personal use. Be sure to sign up for all the programs you can. You can never predict your future business travel plans, so being in all the programs will pay off in the long term. In the short-term, consolidating all your travel with a few providers can help you build status and earn additional perks.
The Credit Card Game
Some companies require all business purchases to be on their corporate card, while others let you use your personal card for business travel. If you can use your personal card, do it. You can earn miles and other travel loyalty rewards from your corporate travel that you can then use for personal travel.