While business travel usually involves a packed schedule that maximizes your time away from the office, don’t overlook the fact that you’re still entitled to a reasonable balance of work and pleasure. Most people kick up their feet at home after a difficult day at the office. Finding time for rest and relaxation is just as important — if not more so — when you’re on the road.
National Car Rental tries to make travel easier for busy professionals and asked me for suggestions on how to tackle this problem. So here are five ways to reorganize your next business trip to provide more opportunity for fun and leisure.
Take a Scenic Detour
Business travel provides a vacation from your typical rush hour commute, even if you still have to deal with traffic. Take advantage of a more flexible schedule to turn that drive back to the hotel into a scenic drive. This could be as simple as choosing a different road, perhaps an older state highway or surface roads instead of the main interstate.
A slower pace lets you take in new sights, and it may be less stressful than trying to find the right exit at high speed. Plan a route that goes near an outdoor shopping district where you can stop for dinner.
Emerald Club members who book a mid-size rate can choose their own vehicle from National Car Rental’s Emerald Aisle (which often results in a free upgrade). So look around for sportier options like a convertible and make your time on the road more exciting.
Get a Room with a View
Have elite status with your favorite hotel chain? Leverage that for an upgrade if your work takes you somewhere especially scenic. One of the most important tricks is simply asking for a better room at check-in. Know what you want so the hotel staff can better satisfy your request. It can also help to be flexible, perhaps leaving your bag with the bell staff until a better room is available.
This is also a good time to redeem some of those rewards points. Frequent business travelers occasionally complain that they have no interest in using rewards for vacations because it would mean spending more time away from home. Upgrades are an easy way to redeem your rewards while still letting your employer pay for the original reservation.
Don’t Forget to Eat Well
Anyone who enjoys visiting restaurants at home should research local food blogs when traveling for work. Don’t rely entirely on hotel room service or fast food just because it’s convenient. If you have to dine out anyway, sites like Eater will list the newest venues. You’ll enjoy fresher food, more varied cuisine, and a chance to explore the surrounding neighborhood.
If you’re at an extended stay hotel that includes a small kitchen, you might even be able to visit a local farmers market and grab a few things to prepare yourself. Produce, bakery items, and some pre-prepped foods can usually be prepared with just a microwave and cutting board. Avoid raw meat and dairy unless you plan to use them the same day, since they may need to be refrigerated.
Schedule Time for Activities
Even with back-to-back meetings, there’s usually some flexibility in your schedule during business travel. Take advantage of the opportunity to break from the routine you normally follow at home.
Time changes could make it easier to wake up early for a morning run (most hotel concierges will provide suggested routes) or take a leisurely breakfast. Research your destination before arriving to create a list of local attractions, parks, and other tourist activities. It may be possible to visit them midweek when crowds are lower.
Stay an Extra Day
When busy trips don’t allow any time for relaxation, sometimes the best solution is to stay even longer. Your employer is already paying for your flight. Returning on the weekend might actually lower the fare. Just ask your boss first if it’s okay to fly home Sunday instead of Thursday, and then make a second reservation at the hotel (with your own credit card) for a few extra days.
Your destination simply isn’t that exciting? Use your car to visit a nearby lake or mountain resort area..
This post is sponsored by National Car Rental.