It doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, but ‘bleisure travel’ is a term that’s becoming ever more familiar. The art of blending a business trip with leisure excursions is a great one to perfect, enabling even the most seasoned business traveller to get more from their time abroad and to achieve a healthy work-life balance.
Jet-setting for work can sound exciting to those who don’t have to do it, but in reality it can be a lonely and tiring process. However, with a little forethought and planning, what was once seen as a career inconvenience can become a prime opportunity to expand horizons and experience new things. If you’re keen to make the most of your next business trip, here are a few things to keep in mind before and during your time away.
Packing for an overnight business trip is easy, packing for an extended bleisure trip that spans a weekend post-meetings is less so. While you may be staying in comfortable hotels and travelling in business class, when it comes to packing you should try and think like a backpacker.
Where possible, try to travel hand luggage only. Pack versatile clothing that can pass for both business attire and casual clothing when matched differently, and be absolutely sure that you aren’t bringing too much. When you’re trying to prepare for boardrooms and sightseeing in one bag, it can be tempting to carry a range of outfits that you don’t actually need. Less is more, and if you need a hand making the most of your carry-on you might want to invest in some compression packing cubes that help to maximise the amount you can fit in a small space.
Do your research
From travel blogs to Instagram tags, the internet is a gold mine of information about any destination your workplace might need to send you to. Don’t waste precious free time in-country trying to figure out where to go next and how to get there – plan ahead and have an idea of what’s nearby, how to navigate public transport or where to hail a taxi.
It’s also well worth reading into your employer’s policies around business travel, to find out whether you can take a partner or other family member along for the trip. You should also note any rules they have around things like checked baggage allowances, and even travel data security for your work and personal devices.
Data security is particularly important because while it’s tempting to use free public WiFi services while you’re travelling, networks like these are often unsecured. As well as packing anything you need to enjoy the local sights, ensure you’ve kept work in mind by backing up important data and installing software updates before you go, and consider using a virtual private network (VPN) to secure public WiFi so that you can work without the fear of any important data being stolen.
Work first, play second
(But make sure you do both.) Bleisure travel is all about balance and knowing how best to manage your time. Whether you’re on your own or have taken someone else along for the ride, be present in the whole process.
If you’re in a meeting, be totally focused on that meeting. If you’re done for the day and exploring, turn off email notifications and immerse yourself in the adventure. Whatever happens, be sure that your leisure time doesn’t come at the expense of meeting your work obligations.
That’s true when considering the length of your trip as well as what you’re going to do from day-to-day; adding on extra days for 100% leisure time is brilliant when you can do it, but if you’re travelling to a meeting that will kick start a large project, consider whether it’s wise to take extra time off following this rather than returning to base to get things moving.
Try city tours and excursions
Free time is often limited on bleisure trips, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fit plenty in. Many major cities boast free walking tours, often in differing lengths where some could be slotted into a lunch break or undertaken between a morning and afternoon meeting.
Alternatively, a foodie evening tour or cooking class can be a great way to turn going out for dinner into something a bit more cultural, without commanding a whole day’s worth of your time.
When you’re looking into things to do in your destination, it may also be worth expanding your parameters and seeking what’s on offer out of the main location. If you’re on business in Paris, you might wish to venture out of the city and explore the nearby wildlife parks over a weekend, or if you’re visiting Melbourne there might be time to squeeze in an excursion to Phillip Island.
Wherever you’re headed, a little pre-planning is all it takes to get more from what might otherwise be “just another business trip”. Instead of seeing the world from the inside of airports and hotel rooms, with just a small amount of effort you can become a veritable adventurer.