Getting paid to go somewhere should be a nice thing. So, whenever I get sent somewhere, I try to get a bit of fun out of it. Especially on a business trip! And this has nothing to do with laziness: When you are relaxed and rested you are better at your job!
Suggested song: Empire State of Mind by Alicia Keyes
When you are travelling on business, spare time is a very limited and precious resource. Most of the time, you are just being jetted to a meeting or a conference to be at the event. But there are a couple of steps that you can take to make a mundane business trip an appetiser for adventure. Such a trip can give you a first glimpse at a location, helping you find out if you want to come back for a private visit at some future date. Or it can be a mini-adventure in its own right, getting you out of the regular grind at home. Since I have just been to beautiful Styria, let me share a bit of my procedure for making business travel an enjoyable adventure.
Plan Your Trip
When I plan a business trip and think that the potential location is interesting enough, I usually try to make sure to have a couple of hours to myself to get some exploring done. Indulge your adventure attitude, even when you are in a suit and lugging around your business notebook!
- Some vacation days to burn? Sometimes your employer let’s you take a couple of days off. So, extend your trip into a vacation, and that’s, of course, ideal if your business trip takes you to some exciting place. Flights are paid for and you get to see a bit more than boring conference rooms.
- Your meeting is on a Monday or a Friday? Even if you can’t take any vacation days, airline fares can be your ally. This is particularly true if your business meeting starts on a Monday or ends on a Friday. Flying on a Sunday evening, Monday morning or Friday afternoon can be considerably more expensive than, say, on a Saturday evening or a Sunday morning. So much so, that you might actually safe the company money by staying abroad a bit longer, even when you factor in the additional night at the hotel. Plus, you are bound to be more rested if you get some down time before your meeting, and thus you are more effective at what you were sent there to accomplish.
- Can’t take any vacation days or haven’t got a weekend bracketing your trip? Fly back the next morning instead of the night after the meeting. You won’t be much good in the office the next day, anyway.
Now that you have made some time, plan your activities
Plan Your Spare Time Activity
You won’t have too much time, so find out what you want to do in the limited time you have. Make it something nice and limit yourself. This is supposed to give you more energy, not wear you out. Is there some local speciality that you should try, a regional signature dish, a spectacular sight or even just the atmosphere of the town you are travelling to? Perfect! Read up on it beforehand, see if it fits into your schedule, and make it a fixed event in your travel plans.
Once there, stick to your plans. I know, you are there on business and that’s your priority. But that does not mean that you can’t enjoy yourself. Even better, you can turn your planned spare time activity into a networking opportunity. Want to have the best New York hotdog or some authentic Austrian Strudel? Just let your local business contacts know that you have a bit of time and what you would like to do. That gives you something to talk about as an icebreaker. Very likely, they will at least suggest a place or they might join you. It puts them into a position to showcase their local knowledge and flatters their local patriotism, a great starting point for bonding and networking! And even if you did everything you wanted to do alone before you attended the business meeting, you still have something to talk about during coffeebreaks when talking shop becomes tedious.