When it comes to travel, mixing business with leisure is an idea that's catching on fast. A growing number of "bleisure" travelers are making the most of routine business trips by tacking a few extra days onto their trips and capitalizing on any downtime. Travel Weekly's 2016 Consumer Report revealed that the number of bleisure travelers went from 11 percent in 2015 to 17 percent in 2016. In another survey conducted by BridgeStreet Global Hospitality, 78 percent of respondents agreed that adding a day or two for fun at the end of a business trip added value to their work assignments.
With a bit of strategic planning and a few simple adjustments to your schedule, you can turn your next business trip into a memorable vacation.
Pick a Hotel with a Vacation Vibe
If you're allowed to choose your own hotel, or you're helping choose one for your company, look for one that offers plenty of onsite amenities, activities, and entertainment and is within walking distance of good restaurants or a popular attraction, such as a beach. If your company automatically books a typical business-oriented hotel, switch to a more upbeat hotel, resort, or vacation rental for the leisure part of your trip. Book your hotel with your credit card so you can accrue more points to use toward your next trip.
Use Travel Apps for Insider Tips
Your phone is an invaluable travel guide if you take advantage of the right travel apps. Feeling adventurous? Get yourself invited to a traditional, home-cooked meal by connecting with locals on apps like EatWith, Feastly, and Meal Sharing. For a more traditional approach, the Spotted by Locals app tells you the best local picks for restaurants as well as for activities and shopping in more than 65 cities throughout North America and Europe.
If you're relying on public transportation, use an app like Moovit to keep up with timetables and other important information. People love it when foreigners take the time to learn a few key phrases in their language. If you're traveling abroad, check out apps like Duolingo or TripLingo to get a crash course in a foreign language.
Hire a Virtual Assistant
If you don't have an assistant who can help you out on the go, hire a virtual assistant (VA) to handle the mundane tasks required for your business trip. This might include booking meeting rooms, tracking expenses, and sending follow up emails. A VA could also help with your leisure travel research and reservations if you don't already have all the details pinned down. Check out reputable VA sites like IVAA to find someone who fits your needs.
Say Yes to Networking Dinners
Although you may be tempted to dine on your own or explore the city alone in your downtime, accepting or extending an informal dinner invitation to a local partner or client is a good way to mix business with pleasure. Locals always know the best places to go, and they can offer excellent insider advice that a guidebook simply won't contain, starting with an excellent, non-touristy dinner spot.
Let Someone Else Drive
Hire a local driver-guide to show you around. You won't have to do any planning or research ahead of time, and you can just sit back, enjoy the view, and let someone else do the work during the leisure part of your trip. If you need to take a work call while doing some sightseeing, this also allows you to carry on a conversation without interrupting the journey.
The next time your company arranges a business trip for you, think about weaving some fun into the experience and adding some extra days. Share your bleisure trip photos with us on Twitter.