Travel comes in many forms. Two of the most common types are vacation travel (my personal favorite) and business travel (which I’ve experienced as well). Many people these days have jobs that require them to travel frequently. After awhile, the shine is off the penny, as the saying goes. Trips that they once looked forward to with anticipation and excitement eventually turn into trips they’d rather someone ELSE take. They end up loathing the thought of yet another airport, another taxicab, and another hotel room.
My guest blogger, K. Cecchini, has had to travel quite a bit during the course of her career, both domestically (in the U.S.) and abroad. She has graciously offered to share her experiences and her advice with all of us. I’m sure we can all learn a thing or two from her!
Now, off we go…
3 WAYS TO MAKE THE MOST OF A BUSINESS TRIP
Your friends are always jealous of your work travel. You get to go to cool places like London, New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, and the list goes on. But as those of us who do travel frequently for work know all too well, it can just be plain exhausting and frustrating because you never have enough time to do any of the “tourist” things the exciting destination has to offer.
At the end of the day, a hotel is just a hotel; a conference room is just a conference room; even a dinner out for business can be a dreaded event after a long day of meetings. You have yet to really “see” much of anything except what you may glimpse out of the window. You’re tired. You want a hot bath, a massage, and an uneventful trip home.
I am here to declare that its time to bring back the boondoggle! For those of you who are younger than me (which is probably most of you) you may not even know what that term means.
According to the trusty Urban Dictionary (which I visit often to try to understand my stepdaughter’s lingo), a boondoggle is:
“a business trip, often to an exotic destination, in which you do more relaxing/fun stuff than work.”
Back in the old government days when a career was guaranteed for life and pensions were real, boondoggles were kind of a running joke with public sector workers who were known (fairly or not) to seek out great destinations for meetings in order to leverage the ancillary benefits. The commercial sector took notice and the trend was in vogue for a while…until someone caught on that this wasn’t necessarily the best way to manage the department budget.
Whoever that “someone” was has created a real mess for us current day work travelers! Now we’re asked to fly in as late as possible (love those red eyes for 9 am meetings!), fly out as soon as possible (love those red eyes after a 14 hour day), and basically spend any spare time we do have checking our emails and working from our hotel room.
I believe there is a way to reinvent the boondoggle so that it still makes financial sense for the organization, but also helps create a healthier, better experience for the traveler. Here are my personal top three tried and true tips for making that business trip more of a delight, and less of a burden.
1. Book flights on the weekend
Look carefully at your flight prices for weekday vs. weekend travel. Many times, it’s less expensive to fly in or out on a weekend – sometimes significantly less – affording you the opportunity to cheerfully let your company know you’re saving them XXX dollars by switching your arrival or return to a weekend day. If you save them enough, they may even offer to pick up your hotel tab, depending on your corporate policy.
On a recent trip to London, I saved my company over $1,000 by flying home on Sunday vs. Friday, I did pay for my own lodging for the weekend, but I was able to justify taking Friday off (since I would have been flying anyway). It was well worth it, especially since there are so many affordable family-run hotels in London that I could easily switch to from the swanky hotel my company put me up in.
2. Reclaim “You” Time
So you’ve been to Vegas 30 times for tradeshows. You’re frankly over it. The lights that never go out, the buffets that are no longer cheap or even good, the noisy casinos and party crowds. (Yes, I know I sound really old right now.)
But did you take the time to check out what is going on while you’re going to be in town? There may be that one show you’ve been dying to see. Maybe you never took even 15 minutes to watch the spectacular fountains at the Bellagio because it felt like an inconvenience. Perhaps you wanted to check out Giada’s new restaurant at the Cromwell but you couldn’t even figure out how to get there from your hotel. You’d be surprised how much you can do with an hour or two of down time! Take a break when you can and see some of those things. You deserve it!
3. Find A Team Building Activity
The undisputed value of team building exercises has been proven out time and again. The opportunity to get to know your coworkers in a setting outside of work, especially in one that fosters greater connections and improved productivity – is certainly time well spent. Whether or not you are in a coordinator role for this business trip, do some research and present some team building options to whoever is making the ultimate decision. Use this as an opportunity to experience some of the local stuff that you don’t typically get to do.
- If you’re in Austin, take in some great music together in a smaller, more intimate setting.
- If you’re in San Francisco, take a trolley tour or a quick boat ride over to Alcatraz.
- If you’re in Washington, DC, arrange a tour of the Capitol through your local Congressional representative.
Suddenly, work travel can actually seem fun again when these kinds of activities are included.
This has inspired me to log off now and do some research around my next business trip – which happens to be New Orleans! What’s not to love – a little blues, some great food, but perhaps no activities that involve beads. Here’s to the “new” boondoggle! May we all have the chance to make work travel just a little less stressful, and a wee bit more enjoyable.
by K. Cecchini
What suggestions do YOU have for making business trips more enjoyable, bearable or less stressful? Please share with us. We’d love to hear them!
Until next time, wishing you awesome travels!
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