Combining a work trip with a vacation — often called “bleisure” — can be a win-win situation, said Kendra Thornton, president of Chicago travel agency Royal Travel & Tours. “You’re already at your destination, and your employer has likely picked up the tab to get you there,” she said. “So why not tack on a few days for fun?”
She offers this advice on how to mix business and leisure into a successful getaway:
>> Maximize your hotel stay: Your employer probably paid a corporate nightly rate for your hotel room, which is almost always lower than the hotel’s regular published rate. Ask the hotel’s reservations manager whether the lower rate could be extended for your personal stay. “Many hotels want to inculcate client loyalty from their corporate travelers, and are amenable to giving you the discount,” she said. She also suggested asking for extras such as free breakfast and airport transfers. In a bid to win clients, some hotels are open to throwing in perks.
>> Pick the right time: If you’re traveling to attend a conference, keep in mind that they are often held in desirable destinations during off-peak season. This timing makes it economical to turn your work trip into a leisurely stay because hotel prices are as much as 50 percent lower then. Also, certain cities such as Chicago and New York tend to have higher hotel rates on weekdays, whereas others, like Las Vegas, command higher rates on weekends.
>> Extra days not needed: While most of these trips involve adding on a few days for pleasure when you’re done with work obligations, it is possible to incorporate downtime while you’re on the clock. “Assuming you don’t have a packed work schedule, I suggest including vacation elements throughout your trip,” Thornton said, such as enjoying dinner at a popular local restaurant or taking an afternoon sightseeing tour. Even a few hours of pleasurable activity per day, she said, can evoke a feeling of being on vacation.
>> If family is involved, plan smartly: There is nothing like having your family with you on a work trip, but Thornton recommended that they join you only after your professional commitments are done so that you can give them your full attention.