The day has come to keep that promise to yourself to capitalize on the opportunity to travel for business and add in a bit of leisure time, too. And why wouldn’t you? Bleisure travel is gaining popularity across the globe, and not just with the millennial crowd. Tacking on a few days of play is a great way to invest in some self-care and explore a city you might not otherwise get to. As you plan ahead for your first bleisure trip, use these five tips to prepare for and maximize your travel experience.
Timing is everything
The first step in planning a bleisure trip is to time it just right. What does that look like? When possible, arrange for the ‘business’ portion of your trip to fall on a Friday or Monday—whether that be hosting a client meeting, attending a conference, or [enter your job duty here]—that way you can spend the weekend enjoying the ‘leisure’ part of your trip. It likely matters little to your leader when you fly in and out, and arranging for off-peak flight times might even save you money, too. Plus, you’ll be in good company—Concur Hipmunk’s data shows that since its launch in September of 2017, 16% of business trip hotel bookings included a Saturday night stay.
Book a hotel based on (your) points of interest
As a leisure traveler, you’ve likely planned a trip based on a point of interest (POI)—like last year, when you took your family to Boston to catch a Red Sox game at Fenway and booked a nearby hotel. On Hipmunk, you can easily do the same for planning your bleisure trips.
Take your upcoming trip to New York City, for example. You know your conference is taking place at the Javits Center, so once you’ve entered your search terms—where: Manhattan; your dates; 1 person, 1 room—into the Hipmunk hotel search page, you’ll be instantly matched with the top results. To find hotels close to your POI, simply locate the map to the right-hand side of hotel cards, and enter (in this case) “Javits Center”. The hotels to the left will automatically update with results close to the venue, and include the exact distance from it along the bottom of the card. Now for the leisure part of the equation—knowing that you’ll also want to do some sightseeing, you scan the map and see that Hotel Americano is located halfway between The High Line and the Javits Center. Perfect! Going forward, this POI filtering approach can be applied to any upcoming conference, speaking event, or client dinner you have on your travel calendar.
Perfect your packing strategy
Before you start panicking about what to pack for a dual purpose trip, sit down and list out what you have planned during your trip. Formal dinner with a client? Morning workout before the conference? Concert tickets for Saturday night? Getting clear on your plans and goals will help streamline what you need to bring with you. Then, make a list of: (1) what you’ll need to wear for planned activities, (2) what you’ll need to dress appropriately for the climate, and (3) items that you’ll need to comply with the office dress code or local etiquette.
Then, aim to only pack items that can go from business to leisure, and vice versa. Start by pulling mostly neutral items from your closet. Then, throw in one or two accent shades, for instance, in the form of scarves or pocket squares. Depending on the length of your bleisure trip, you can likely get away with taking one staple item each—i.e. one skirt/pair of dress pants, one blazer, one pair of jeans, one pair of shoes—and mixing and matching those neutral staples with a colorful new top and accessories each day, for the entirety of your trip. Everything else you were thinking of packing, including those just-in-case items? You can leave them at home—which should free up the time you would have spent agonizing over what shoes to wear because you’ve only packed the ones you need.
Packing like a minimalist—and ideally, taking only a carry-on—will help you avoid paying for extra checked bag fees. Remember: the money you save on this business trip leaves you with more in your travel budget for the next trip.
Leverage Nearby Places
Being the savvy business traveler that you are, you’re probably already using TripIt to manage your travel plans and keep you up to date about flight delays, gate changes, and more. If you’re not already familiar, you should also know about TripIt’s Nearby Places. Whether you’re looking for a restaurant, bar, café, convenience store or ATM, Nearby Places makes it easy to find places close to where you’re staying. If you find a place you like but can’t get there right away, you can save it in TripIt to visit later, too. This feature will work especially well for bleisure travelers looking to fill in the gaps in the leisure part of their itineraries with great things to see and do in an unknown city.
Flex your freedom
If you have flexibility with the conferences you attend, make a list of the cities you want to explore and leverage business trips to get you there. Then, extend your stay to catch the band, sample the local cuisine, or reconnect with an old friend during your free time. Use the POI hotel search to book a place to stay near what’s a priority to you. Mark locations in your Nearby Places, or—better yet—book reservations and use TripIt’s map view to plot the course to each of the destinations on your itinerary. You don’t need to be a local to explore like one. With these tips, you’ll handle planning your first bleisure trip like a pro.
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