Most business travelers work to support their family, a partner or a way of life. Balancing work along with spending time with the people you care about can be a conundrum. So how do you choose between spending time with loved ones and working harder to make a better life for them?
The new trend in business travel is: you don’t. Torn travelers have stopped choosing one or the other, and instead blend personal with professional on the road. It’s called “bleisure” travel – mixing business and leisure on official work trips, usually with your sweetheart.
So how does one take “bleisure” trips while focusing on the job at hand? Or even harder, how do travelers balance their reason for the trip – the job – with a desire to spend time with a travel companion?
Check your corporate policy. You might be one of the lucky few who get a generous per diem on the road that may help pay for dinner, but there may be other ways your corporate travel policy covers your companion. Some companies pay for plane tickets, meals or other amenities for you and your plus-one, especially if you’re on the road for more than 14 consecutive days. Other policies don’t pay extra for anything. Either way, it’s worth checking out with your travel manager before booking your next bleisure trip.
Set the expectations. Let your sweetheart know this is a business trip. Your first priority is getting the work done, but he or she comes next. When you see breaks in the schedule, make dates. Explore the city’s quirky restaurants, take long walks, or just hang out in the room. When your partner knows what to expect, you can make a game plan that fits best.
Study up on the attractions. Ideally, choose a place to stay in the center of your sweetheart’s universe: The West End for London theater lovers; SoHo for fashionistas; Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for music fans. While you make deals, make it easy for your loved one to explore solo by minding his or her interests. That way, when you get back from that five-hour meeting, you’ll have a happy camper to welcome you – and drag you along to see that Jimi Hendrix exhibit.
Be prepared to mingle – or not. Business dinners, cocktail hours or company events are usually times when your plus-one is welcome to join in. You and your plus-one can mingle with the boss’ husband or the manager’s wife. There are events, though, when your someone special isn’t welcome. It’s a good opportunity for them to read a book, take a bath, see the sights or hit the gym instead. Flexibility is key in bleisure, and it’s best not to take exclusive business decisions personally.
Make it a double (work) date. If your sweetheart’s job allows it, encourage them to work remotely. Plugging away on a laptop is a lot more fun when you have someone special to share an electrical outlet with. Tagging along is a nice opportunity to get away from the office and focus on projects in the relative quiet of a hotel. And hey, how often do you get to write reports with room service?
In the end, bleisure travel is really suited for independent types – people who want to be with each other and can be flexible about how that happens. Don’t expect a vacation – those are for rest, relaxation and fun. Instead business trips are morphing into opportunities to balance your travel lifestyle, with a little bit of home on the road.