Do you miss mixing business trips with getting out and exploring a new city? If so, you’re in good company. In a recent survey conducted by SAP Concur, 89 percent of respondents said they will add personal vacation time to their business trips in the next year. Some of the top reasons respondents said they’re ready for a return to business travel are making personal connections with customers and colleagues (54 percent), experiencing new places (52 percent), and taking a break from their everyday life (41 percent).
Part of the excitement of visiting new places is the potential to tack on a few days of exploration. This combination work-and-play trip—commonly known as a bleisure trip—is a great way to get to know a new city, recharge with solo time or self-care activities, and embrace new cultural or culinary experiences.
So, if you’re getting ready to head back out on the road and, like many business travelers, you plan to extend your trip, use these tips to prepare for and maximize your travel experience.
1. Plan your bleisure trip to maximize your leisure time
The first step in planning a bleisure trip is to time it right. What does that look like? When possible, arrange for the business portion of your trip to fall on a Friday or Monday—whether that be hosting a meeting, attending a conference, or something else—that way you can spend the weekend enjoying the leisure part of your trip. If you have flexibility with your flights, planning to fly on off-peak times might save you money, too.
Read more: 7 Savvy Ways to Save on Business Travel
2. Perfect your packing strategy
Before you start worrying about what to pack for a dual purpose trip, sit down and list out what you have planned during your trip. Getting clear on your plans and goals will help streamline what you need to bring with you.
Next, make a list of:
- What you’ll need to wear for planned activities
- What you’ll need to dress appropriately for the climate
- Items that you’ll need to comply with the business portion of your trip or local etiquette
Then, aim to only pack items that can go from business to leisure, and vice versa. Depending on the length of your bleisure trip, you can likely get away with taking one staple item each—i.e. one skirt/pair of dress pants, one blazer, one pair of jeans, one pair of shoes—and mixing and matching those staples with accessories each day.
Everything else you were thinking of packing, including those just-in-case items? You can leave them at home—which should free up the time you would have spent agonizing over what shoes to wear because you’ve only packed the ones you need.
3. Leverage TripIt to get to know your destination
Being the savvy business traveler that you are, you’re probably already using TripIt Pro to manage your travel plans and keep you up to date about flight delays, gate changes, and more. But many TripIt features are also helpful for bleisure travelers looking to fill in the gaps in the leisure part of their itineraries with great things to see and do in an unknown city.
For example, if you’re looking for a place to eat, drink, pick up supplies, or even seek medical care during your bleisure trip, TripIt’s Nearby Places feature makes it easy to find places close to where you’re staying. If you find a place you want to visit ahead of your trip, you can save it in TripIt to visit later.
You can also leverage TripIt’s Neighborhood Safety Scores to assess the safety of the neighborhoods you’re staying in or visiting. With separate safety scores for day and night, you can make an informed decision as to whether the location of your potential accommodations meets your standards for safety. You can also set a personal risk level within the Neighborhood Safety Scores feature to receive a warning if you’re planning on visiting an area—say, a restaurant in the next neighborhood over—that exceeds your threshold.
Also ahead of your bleisure trip, you can consult TripIt’s COVID-19 Guidance feature to learn about any requirements and restrictions currently in place for your destination(s). This includes current infection rates, quarantine rules upon arrival, mask requirements, curfew orders, restrictions on dining and shopping, and more, and other information travelers need to know before visiting the area. TripIt Pro users can research pandemic-related information for destinations ahead of booking a trip, without needing them to be part of a TripIt itinerary.
4. Turn bleisure trips into bucket list trips
If you have flexibility with where you go for your business trips, make a list of the destinations you want to explore and leverage business trips to get you there. Then, extend your stay to visit the nearby national park, sample the local cuisine, or reconnect with an old friend during your free time.
With these tips in mind, you’ll handle planning—and taking—a bleisure trip like a pro.