Before I took my first work trip, the idea of traveling for work always seemed quite glamorous – a fully paid trip to a new place, count me in! What I’ve learned, however, is that work trips can be anything but glamorous. Oftentimes you’re by yourself or with colleagues who you wouldn’t naturally choose to spend your evenings with, the locations are never exactly where you would decide to go on vacation (I personally have never had the pleasure of going to Hawaii for work), and normally your schedule is fully booked leaving little time for rest, let alone exploring. But, in an effort to see more than just the airport and inside of hotel and meeting rooms when on a work trip, I’ve learned over the years that with a little bit of planning, you can make work trips into something of an adventure as well.
Do your research
Before heading on any trip, this is always my first step. Do some research about the place you will be visiting. Get recommendations from colleagues and/or friends who have been there before. I promise that with a little bit of research, even the seemingly most dull places have something to offer be it a quirky bookstore, beautiful park or family-run restaurant. Make note of all of your findings including details such as opening hours. I especially love noting restaurant recommendations as you’ll likely always find time to grab a coffee or enjoy (and expense) some great meals! I personally love the bookmark function in Google Maps which allows you to save each place.
You will likely know your schedule during your work trip ahead of time. Make sure to look at where you will be staying and where you need to be during the day. Then look at all of the places you might want to visit and if possible plan a route to and from your hotel and your work destinations that passes some of these places. You might be surprised to discover that with little or no detour you’ll be able to see some of the sights before your work day even starts or on your way back to your hotel.
Alternatively, try and get out during lunch or other breaks or at the very least grab food from a recommended restaurant as opposed to a conference center cafe. The reason that I love having everything saved in Google Maps is that if you do find a free couple hours or better yet, a full afternoon, then you can simply pick an area where you have lots of saved locations and wander around!
As far as practicalily, I love to walk around a new place. Get up early and go for a run or skip your morning workout and walk to and from meetings. Remembering to always give yourself a little extra time so that you can stop en route to take in the sights.
Extend the trip to include some leisure time (if possible)
This is not always practical and in fact you may just want to get home to friends and family but if you do end up somewhere exciting, try and fly in a few days before work starts or stay for the weekend. That way you can take advantage of the free flight and turn your work trip into a mini getaway! Depending on where you are headed and how much time you have, you may even be able to convince your partner or friend to join you.
I’d love to hear about your work travel experiences in the comments below.