How to Get the Most Out Of Work Travel
Getting The Most Out Of Work Travel
If you follow me on Instagram (if you don’t, click here!) you have often seen my travel adventures on a relatively routine basis. Recently, I have been asked more than once how I manage to always be on vacation, eating dinner on the water, exploring beautiful coffee shops, finding neat museums. I’m not! All of my most recent adventures have been work related! Just over a year ago, I stepped away from my scientific role as a microbiologist in a lab to the commercial side of the pharmaceutical business. In addition to broadening my horizons, gaining a greater understanding of my industry and more client interactions, a big draw to this new career was the travel. I prefer to be the girl on the go. Even for the sake of work travel, I enjoy new places, stepping away from my home office and being productive in a new environment. Work travel can be grueling at times (flight delays and living out of a suitcase for three straight weeks can grow very tiresome), but the greatest perk is being able to explore a new city, even if only for an hour or two at a time.
My work travels have taken me places both domestic and international (peep my trip to Korea here and here), and I am often asked how I manage the time to explore. Between conferences, client meetings, team dinners and keeping up with my usual deadlines, it can certainly be tough! But it is so incredibly important to me to make the most out of the blessing that is work travel! So below, you will find my top tips for getting the most out of exploring the world on the company dime!
Plan Your Time. On work trips, my planner is my best friend. Before I even make my way to the airport, I place all of my work obligations, times, schedules and information into my weekly layout. A 10,000ft view of what you have to do will help identify your availability for what you want to do. Budgeting in time for transportation, getting ready, etc will help reduce unforeseen time suckers as well. Knowing what your schedule allows can help narrow down what you will be able to do during your time away.
Research Your Destination. To be able to explore and plan for adventure, you need to know what there is to do! TripAdvisor, personal recommendations and Thrillist lists are all good tools to discover top places to see, eat and wander. Even if most of your time will be spent in a conference room at a hotel near the airport, finding the greatest of everything near your home away from home will give you quick and easy options! And remember, there is something to do everywhere! Sure, destinations like NYC, Seattle and San Francisco seem more glamorous, but uncovering hidden gems in Omaha can be just as memorable.
Pack Your Most Comfy Sneaks. When your schedule is packed and days are long, taking a 30 minute walk right out of your hotel very first thing in the morning is an expedition in itself. I am always amazed at what I manage to discover, the things I learn from simply lacing up my tennies and covering some ground on foot. Small boutiques, coffee houses, a random museum, or a trip down a boardwalk will immerse you in the culture of a location far more than Ubering to a touristy hot spot. Hitting the pavement is also a great way to get some exercise and fresh air before spending the day running from meeting to meeting.
Don’t Sleep. Seriously. Now, I only recommend this if you are like me and can function when fueled by only a couple hours of shut eye and 3 cups of coffee. Keeping my obligations for the next day in the back of my mind and remembering that I have my favorite full coverage concealer on my hotel vanity, there usually is nothing stopping me from solo expeditions in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning. Discovering a breakfast cafe on the water in San Francisco, or a lively hole in the wall bar in Brooklyn past midnight will not only make for great experiences, but will place you in the heart of the local arena. Grab a cab back to your hotel room for a quick shower, fresh makeup application, yogurt and coffee and you are ready to start your day all before your coworkers get up.
Don't Go Home ...or at least not right away. Depending on the timing of my trip, an option that I may take is to extend my trip by a day or two on either end. Especially if your work obligations end on a Friday or begin on a Monday, booking your flights on the weekends allows you the extra time to explore your destination on your own. The personal expense adds up here with hotel and meal costs, but what better way to explore a new place than without any disruptions or distractions?
Be Flexible. Things will arise, tasks and events will take longer than anticipated, so going with the flow is key. A client may need to reschedule, the show floor may stay open an hour longer than planned, or your boss may ask you to dinner. Sure, those things may eat into your exploration time, but remember why you are there: for work. So take that in stride, make a mental note of your foiled plans and try to make time to discover later.
Take Notes for Next Time. You will never been able to explore all of the items in your list. Dishes will go uneaten, attractions will go unseen. So take all of your research from the beginning of your trip and store it away until next time. Even if your job never brings you back, perhaps a personal trip is in order (hopefully sponsored by your Frequent Flyer Miles!) I have so many weekend and vacation trip ideas because of all the stones that went unturned while I was there for business.
This is by far not a comprehensive list of ways to maximize your business travel, so I would love to hear from you! Do you travel for work? How to you find time to explore and get in some personal enrichment?! Let me know in the comments below!
Explore Loudly. Love Loudly. Live Loudly.