For Business or for Pleasure: Making the Most of Your Business Trips

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If you’re a businesswoman and travel for work, you have an exciting opportunity to see the world … if only you could break away from the boardroom!

Well, with a little planning, you can turn your next business trip into your own personal vacation … And you won’t be alone.

According to CNN columnist Debra Alban, more and more business travelers are combining the two to save money and time. Here are a few ways you can make your business trip successful both professionally and personally.

An extended escape

If your business trip falls mid-week, consider dipping into your vacation time for one or two days immediately before or after. More than half of American workers entitled to vacation days don’t take them so there is a good chance you have plenty of time to utilize. (Fortune has an interesting article on the topic of women using fewer vacation hours than men.)

If your company is footing the bill for travel, look for a return flight similar in price to the day you were originally scheduled to return. If it’s less, all the better for your company. You may be able to pay the difference out-of-pocket for flights that are more expensive. Since your company will likely be paying for your hotel for your approved business travel days only, speak with hotel management at check-in to see if they can split your stay, providing one invoice for business expenses and one that covers just your personal days.

Seeing the sights

Before you go, do some research on the area where you’ll be staying. A lot of hotels are finding it beneficial to cater to female business travelers these days, as business travel can often translate into a return visit during a vacation. Plus, many business hotels provide a full-service concierge service to answer any questions about proximity to attractions and help you get tickets for any special events you might like to attend.

There are now also a host of personal travel concierge programs, such as MeetnGreetMe, that will help you prepare for international business trips. These companies can help you make the most of your trip by ensuring you’re informed about local infrastructure, excursions, and cultural etiquette.

Safety First

Traveling solo, regardless of whether it’s business or pleasure, can feel so liberating. But for single women, it requires an extra dose of safety and security. Be sure to implement any safety precautions at home prior to your trip, in addition to letting your neighbors know you’ll be gone.

Before you arrive at your destination, do your homework on where you’ll be traveling and take some time to review maps and places of interest before you get there. You don’t want it to appear obvious that you’re out of your element when traveling in an unfamiliar city.

Continued connections

If you’re a small business owner, you might be tempted to spend your time between meetings connecting with potential customers back home instead of exploring the city. But working on the fly when you’re out of your comfort zone leaves a lot of room for error, so instead, plan ahead by letting clients know you’ll be gone.

If there are any processes or events that simply can’t be postponed until after your trip, delegate tasks to a trusted coworker or try hiring a virtual assistant for the duration of your trip. It’s important to make sure everything will run smoothly in your absence, but you also shouldn’t feel bad about allowing yourself time away.

The road less traveled

In Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken, the poet tells the tale of his adventures stepping off the clear and visible path. This prose is excellent advice for travelers who only have a few days to soak in the scenery. Hire a guide who knows the area well and see it from a local’s point-of-view. This is even more important if you are visiting an area drowning in B-rated tourists traps. Most cities have far more to offer than the big-budget attractions found at the top of the TripAdvisor lists.

Dinner for two

One of the most rewarding things you can do on a solo business trip is to get out and meet the locals. Don’t waste what little time you have indoors – see the sights and interact with the people and places that make this new city unique. If possible, try to meet up with some of the locals for dinner at least once while you are there. You’ll be amazed at the knowledge you can pick up over cocktails and couscous. Don’t know how to put yourself out there? MeetUp.com offers opportunities to meet people all over the world based on mutual interests.

No matter where you’re going or how long you’ll stay, you can make the most of your business trip with these tips!