Combining a work trip with a vacation — often called “bleisure” — can be a win-win situation, said Kendra Thornton, the president of the Chicago travel agency Royal Travel & Tours and an expert on planning such trips. “You’re already at your destination, and your employer has likely picked up the tab to get you there,” she said. “So why not tack on a few days for fun?”
She offers the following advice on how to mix business and leisure into one successful getaway:
Maximize Your Hotel Stay: Your employer probably paid a corporate nightly rate for your hotel room, which is almost always lower than the hotel’s regular published rate. Thornton suggested asking the hotel’s reservations manager if the lower rate could be extended for your personal stay. “Many hotels want to inculcate client loyalty from their corporate travelers and are amenable to giving you the discount,” she said. She also suggested asking for extras that help you save money such as free breakfast and airport transfers. In a bid to win clients, some hotels are open to throwing in perks.
To Save Money, Pick the Right Time:
If you’re traveling to attend a conference, keep in mind that they are often held in desirable destinations during that destination’s off-peak season — such as Orlando, Florida, in August, and Miami in June. This timing makes it more economical to turn your work trip into a leisurely stay because hotel prices are as much as 50 percent lower than during peak season. Also, certain cities tend to have higher hotel rates on weekdays, such as Chicago and New York, whereas others like Las Vegas command higher rates on weekends.
“If you’re strategic about which business trips you want to extend into a vacation, that vacation will be easier on your wallet,” Thornton said.
Extra Days Not Needed: While most of these trips involve adding on a few days for pleasure when you’re done with work obligations, it is possible to incorporate downtime while you’re on the clock. “Assuming you don’t have a packed work schedule, I suggest including vacation elements throughout your trip whenever it’s possible,” Thornton said. Examples include enjoying dinner at a popular local restaurant, or taking an early morning run around town or an afternoon city sightseeing tour. Even a few hours of pleasurable activity a day, she said, could evoke a feeling of being on vacation.
If Family Is Involved, Plan Smartly: There is nothing like having your family with you on a work trip, but Thornton recommended that loved ones join you only after your professional commitments are done so that you’re able to give them your full attention. “Unless you have tons of free time or your family members are comfortable entertaining themselves,” she said, “it can be distracting to have them with you when you’re on the job, because you’re juggling their needs with what your job needs.”