“You travel for work? You’re so lucky!”
I can’t count the number of times that I’ve had someone say it to me. I sometimes get the feeling that they imagine me sitting on the beach sipping Mai Tais.
Absolutely, I’m very fortunate and it would be pretty hard to get me to give it up. However, as any frequent business traveler knows, amazing experiences are the exception and here are the rules:
- Your flight home will be delayed and you will miss your connecting flight.
- The one time you have to check a bag, it will miss your connecting flight and show up a day late.
- You’ll work longer hours than you do when you’re home and still have work to make up when you get back.
- You’ll see every place in Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, and North Dakota that no one has ever planned to visit.
Despite all of that, with the right attitude and a little bit of effort you can set all of that aside and get a lot out of that opportunity.
- If you get the opportunity to go somewhere really interesting, don’t let your free time go to waste. Get up early, stay up late, and experience something. Do some research on TripAdvisor to find the highest rated attractions at your destination.
- Find local restaurants. You have to eat, so make it something new. Look up local specialties and favorite restaurants before you arrive. Ask the hotel staff for recommendations and cross-check them on Yelp.
- Take an extra day. Arrange to extend your trip and take a vacation day.
- Make sure you are getting frequent flyer miles and hotel points on every trip. Pick an airline/hotel and stick with it whenever possible. You’ll be getting upgrades and free flights/rooms in no time. Look for which airline has a major hub nearest you to decide which you’ll be flying the most. The FlyerTalk forums are a great place to learn about maximizing your frequent flyer benefits.
- Find the beauty in every place you go. It might be an amazing landscape or an interesting conversation at the hotel bar. Visit a battlefield in Gettysburg, eat poutine in Montreal, find a local brewery in Sacramento, hit the beach for a couple of hours in Panama City.
- Most importantly: don’t be afraid to go it alone. Get used to eating in restaurants, sightseeing, and exploring solo. You won’t regret leaving behind the TV in your hotel room.
…And every once in awhile, that rare, golden business trip will present itself. When it does, make sure to savor that Mai Tai.