we recently tweeted that we envy all of the travel bloggers that we follow. and then about five seconds later, we responded to several requests for travel and packing tips. which we know, because we travel all. the. time. virtually every week. so on one hand, we feel like we don’t travel nearly enough (about one big trip a year, but we still have yet to visit most continents). but on the other, we’re travelers in the truest sense of the word. so why doesn’t work travel feel “real”? and, more importantly, how can we make it feel more like travel travel?
stand back. we’re about to spew some advice, listicle style.
like with so many things, we really do think the key is in how we think about things. so, to be a traveler, you just have to think of yourself as a traveler. that’s step one. and the next step is the logical extension of that: begin thinking of work travel as real travel. once you get past the mental hurdle, it’s just a little extra preparation.
our next life’s top ten tips for making work travel feel like real travel:
1. let yourself get excited about work travel
research your destination. find out what’s happening when you’ll be there. are there any cool new restaurants or museums opening? any sporting events happening? figure out what might be worth seeing. and treat the packing process like you would for a personal trip.
2. find the holes in your schedule
if you’re traveling for work, then you’ll have to plan around your meetings or other commitments. but can you clear out any windows of time when you can do something non-work-related? or can you book your trip to give you a little extra time there?
3. extend your trip
if you have meetings on a friday or monday, and where you’re going is interesting or near something interesting, consider staying over the weekend before or after the trip. you’ll probably have to pay the extra hotel nights, but depending on your company’s policy, your airfare will likely be covered.
4. walk around
we are huge believers in getting to know a place just by walking around. can you walk from your hotel to your meetings, instead of taking a cab? can you clear out time to make your own walking tour? even if you can’t carve out time to visit any sites, surely you can at least find 30 minutes for a sightseeing walk? if it’s cold, just bundle up a little more. bonus: walking helps burn off at least of a little of that unhealthy airport food you probably ate.
5. cook local food
try to book a hotel room with a kitchen (we love marriott residence inns for this), or an air bnb rental, and instead of eating crappy hotel restaurant food, hit up a farmers market or great local food shop and then cook your own meals. bonus: this saves money and is usually much healthier than what most business travelers eat. if you don’t want to cook, then…
6. eat like a local
avoid chain restaurants at all costs, and try to avoid hotel dining spots as well. find out from local colleagues or yelp what the locals are digging, and eat at those places. few things are as demoralizing when traveling for work as eating the same boring roasted chicken at soulless hotel restaurants all over the country. we’ve been known to rather shamelessly drag our colleagues across town to try highly recommended restaurants. they never complain afterward.
7. get out and do something
figure out what’s different in the place you’re visiting from the place you live and try to do something you can’t do at home. live in a clean, new suburb? go to that dirty old blues bar in the city you’re visiting instead of watching hgtv in your hotel room. love art? hit up the great local art museum — even a quick 20 minute breeze through is better than nothing, and will change the whole tone of a work trip.
8. bring a loved one
often the thing that makes work travel the toughest is missing someone back home. once in a while, consider bringing them along, maybe in conjunction with an extended trip. that makes it a whole lot easier to enjoy where you are, instead of pining for that person back home.
9. pick great destinations
often we can’t choose where we go for work travel. but if the opportunity presents it to choose where a meeting or event needs to happen, try to choose somewhere you want to visit, and where your colleagues want to visit.
10. bank your points
work travel may never feel exactly like fun travel, but it has one benefit that can’t be beat: it lets you rack up airline miles and hotel points that you can use for your own benefit. so if all else fails, just remind yourself that you’re that much closer to a free vacation of your choosing.
what tips have you picked up to make work travel feel like real travel?
Want extra Our Next Life content? Get the e-newsletter!
Subscribe to get our bimonthly newsletter with tons of top secret info we'll never share here on the blog. It's like a whole extra post or two a month!