Not a fan of business travel?
Join the club. Like so many other unavoidable obligations, business travel is just one more burden to be borne for the greater good—in this case, your company’s bottom line.
Perhaps it doesn’t have to be this way. Just as savvy business travelers use all sorts of tricks to reduce the cost of their business trips, true road warriors know just what to do to improve the overall business travel experience. In other words, they know how to get more out of their trips without undue sacrifice or (much) in the way of added expense.
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1. Add an Extra Day
If you’re leaving Monday and getting back Friday, the last day of your week is likely shot anyway. Make it official by adding an extra day to your trip and seeing a few sights before you skip town. Or go big and stay through the weekend. Although you’ll want to clear it first with anyone who might be expecting you back home.
2. Use an Airline Credit Card
Put your flights on an airline credit card that accrues points or miles for every dollar you spend. Eventually, you’ll have enough to redeem for a free flight. Use them either for your next business travel destination, or go somewhere you’ve always wanted to see. If you can’t wait that long, you can always use your miles for fare upgrades. Review the latest list of the best airline credit cards for cards with exciting fringe benefits. For example, some have such things as complimentary airport lounge access and coveted loyalty status.
3. Catch up with Old Friends off the Clock
Got some time to spare in the evenings? Look up old friends or colleagues in your destination. There’s nothing like a low-key drink or two to rekindle a flagging friendship. And who knows? If you’re in similar or complementary lines of work, you might just add a little bonus business to your boring old trip.
4. Choose Networking Opportunities Wisely
You can’t choose every business trip, so choose those optional travel opportunities wisely. Look for high-value networking opportunities where you’re likely to meet lots of potential clients or vendors, such as trade shows and professional association conventions. And make sure they’re in destinations you actually want to visit. San Diego in February is a lot nicer than Chicago, after all.
5. Mix It up with the Locals
Even if you don’t have a local friend to show you around, make a point to do like the natives do and get out of your business-district bubble. If you’re in a major city, look for restaurants with great reviews and under-the-radar cultural hubs out in the neighborhoods. In rural settings, rent a car and drive out of town or off the resort grounds to two or three of the area’s top outdoor destinations.
6. Stay in Short-Term Rentals
When in doubt, get an Airbnb (or equivalent). Short-term rentals can be roomier and less expensive than hotels. This can be an important consideration when you’re footing the bill. Plus, they’re usually in more interesting settings, where locals actually live, work, and play.
Business Travel That’s Actually … Fun?
Don’t laugh. It’s not as wild an idea as you might think.
The truth is, there’s no reason business travel shouldn’t be fun. If traveling for work is unavoidable, why not do everything in your power to ensure that you actually look forward to it, rather than dread it? You might never learn to love unexpected flight delays, traffic in unfamiliar cities, or long security lines, but at least you’ll enjoy the ride.