Whether you’re assigned to oversee manufacturing production in China or scheduled to meet with international partners in London, sometimes traveling for work can be a prime opportunity to see parts of the world you may have never experienced otherwise. Unfortunately, business travel also comes with its own unique stressors, and with a tight timeline to stick to, it may not seem possible to squeeze even a moment of fun out of your trip. Fortunately, we’ve got some tips for making your business trip feel more like a vacation, so you can start enjoying the perks of getting to travel for work.
- Get organized. Whether you have months to prepare for your next business trip or only a couple of days, do as much work as you can on the front-end to get organized. Not only will being organized keep you from starting your trip stressed out and frazzled, but it will make your stay in an unfamiliar place more comfortable. Apps like TripIt can help you organize all your travel information, like flight numbers and schedules, itineraries, and more, which will come in handy considering as much as 40 percent of airplanes arrive late to their destinations. If you’ve got a connecting flight to catch or a meeting to attend immediately upon landing, you’re going to need those organizational details easily accessible to you.
- Plan for portability. Did you know that 75 percent of people claim that one week without wifi would make them grumpier than one week without coffee? That’s especially true for business travelers, who can really maximize their travel time if they’ve made plans to be able to work on-the-go. If you’re not sure what the wifi situation will look like where you’re headed, consider bringing a wifi hotspot with you. This will not only prevent you from not being able to get work done because you lack access, but it will also make it easier for you to get out and see some of the sights if you can get some things accomplished while you take in the views.
- Keep in touch. Even though as much as 43 percent of business travel is “bleisure” — a mix of business and leisure — that doesn’t mean travelers don’t get homesick or that they are off the hook for communicating with their coworkers. One reason business travel feels less like a vacation and more like — well, work — is because you don’t typically get to go on these trips with the people you care about. Be sure to keep in touch with your family back home to reduce homesickness, and reduce stress about what’s happening at the office by checking in regularly with colleagues to let them know how your business trip is going.
- Be prepared, but flexible. Since most business travelers only had 1-4 weeks to prepare for and book their trip, it’s important to be prepared to expect the unexpected. If you’re traveling internationally, be prepared with some basics in the native language. Be sure to bring cash in the right denomination and credit cards that will process where you’re going. Consider carrying emergency kits with over-the-counter medicines you may want or need, like aspirin, eye drops, cough drops, band-aids, or allergy pills. Bring a Juul vaporizer if you’re a smoker so you don’t have to hunt down cigarettes the moment you land. Prepare yourself as best you can for the unexpected inconveniences that arise so you can remain flexible and relaxed.
- Eat and drink well. Up to 70 percent of people gain weight while traveling, and those traveling for business can be especially susceptible to poor eating habits on the road. Don’t be tempted to skip meals as you’re rushing to meetings and trying to squeeze in some sightseeing; taking the time to enjoy high-quality meals will make you feel like you’re enjoying a nice vacation as opposed to simply surviving on room service until you can get back home.
- Explore upgrades. One of the best benefits of traveling for work is that your company is picking up a big chunk of the tab, so don’t be afraid to ask about any upgrades that may be possible to make your stay more exciting. For example, you may be able to upgrade your flight from coach to business class for as little as $50, which could start (and end) your trip on a high note and leave you feeling more rested and refreshed coming off the plane.
- Be independent. Perhaps the biggest reason business travelers don’t get the chance to make their trips more vacation-like is because they choose stay in their hotels by themselves instead of being independent and putting themselves out there. There are plenty of things to do in Dubai during a business trip, for example, but you won’t get to experience any of them if you’re afraid to go out alone. 38 percent of experience booking happen the same-day or up to two days before the activity, so take a chance and go experience something on your own while you’re traveling.
What do you do to make your business trips feel more like a vacation? Share some of your tips in the comments.