Ed note: When you travel for work, it’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing nothing more than the airport, hotel and office on your trip. Kelly Whalen has figured out ways to make work travel fun and economical, not just for her, but sometimes for the whole family.
After starting my own business in 2009, I started traveling for work. Previously, I’d only traveled for pleasure. Suddenly I was off to places I had always wanted to visit, but had never had time to see. I learned pretty quickly that there were smart ways to not only enjoy business travel but to use that time to my full advantage.
Make Time for a Side of Vacation
Business travel doesn’t have to be all work and no play. Add a side of vacation to your business trip.
Add on an extra day (or five)
Whenever possible with our family’s schedule I try to arrive a day early for business trips. Not only does it give me some time to get settled, but it also allows me time to explore my destination.
Bring the family
Certain business destinations are perfect for family vacations, too. If it matches up with your family’s schedule, bringing them along can be a great way to have your business trip and a vacation, too. You’ll save on things like airfare (you’re already headed there anyway) and you may be able to take advantage of discounted rate offered through your work conference or function. These group rates can save you hundreds of dollars and most conferences anticipate attendees extending their stays. hotel as well. In addition, if you’re self-employed you can write off the portion of your trip that is business-related, which can mean huge vacation savings.
Make it a couples trip
With a busy schedule and work demands, it’s often hard to make time with the ones we love. While bringing your spouse or partner along on a business trip may not sound exciting, it can be an amazing experience. You’ll of course be saving on your flight and hotel room while your sweetie gets to stay for free. If you add on a day or two for outings and sightseeing it will be a perfect getaway.
There’s nothing worse than traveling somewhere amazing and then only seeing the inside of a conference room. You may say you’ve been to Paris, but if you were stuck in an office all day you didn’t actually see Paris.
Meet up with local friends or colleagues
One of the best parts of our digital world is that we’re able to stay connected to people all over the world. It’s likely you know someone wherever you’re traveling, so be sure to take time to connect over coffee, drinks or dinner. Making time for a quick meet up is a great way to stay in touch for both personal and business reasons.
Take a break to see sights
When it’s time for a break in your schedule head out to see the sights or just get out of your hotel for a bit. Fadra Nally from AllThingsFadra has a great tip, “Force yourself to go out and try a restaurant that’s a local favorite near where you’re staying.” It’s a great way to meet locals and sample delicious local food.
Work Smarter on the Go
While business travel can be time consuming, it can provide for great opportunities to work smarter, too.
Take advantage of the change of scenery
A change of scenery can be more than just a way to see a new place. Kelby Carr of Type-A Parent says, “I keep a notebook on me to jot down any ideas I have. I find getting away from my desk gets my brain going.”
Use all the extra time.
A good portion of time when traveling for business involves waiting or getting to your destination. Instead of using that time to read or relax, get your “to dos” out of the way so you have time to explore. Leticia Barr from TechSavvyMama.com shares that she uses headphones on flights – a sure way to let other passengers know you mean business – and takes full advantage of her time in the air. “I love having dedicated time to write, reply to emails that I’ve meant to get to (they get sent when she arrives at her destination), organize my desktop or sort through my photo library.”
Smart Money Moves for Business Travelers:
Now that you’ve mastered how to be productive, see the sights and take full advantage of your travel, be sure to make these smart money moves to help you earn while you work.
Sign up for rewards:
Sign up for frequent flier programs, hotel reward programs, rental car programs, and any other reward programs. Depending on how far and how many nights you travel you could earn a free night’s stay or be ¼ of the way to a free ticket after one trip. Even if your company pays the bill you’ll still be earning toward a future trip.
Use your credit card:
Use your credit card to earn rewards for all your business travel. Pay it off with your expense check to stay on top of your credit. It’s a savvy way to stockpile points for a future trip, earn gift cards or get cash back to use on other purchases.
Business travel isn’t always fun, but it can be rewarding with a little planning.