Business travel is commonly perceived as glamorous. I’m writing this as I am bumped up to first class on my way home from a business trip, so it seems contradictory for me to argue otherwise. After all, business travelers get to visit new places, stay at elegant hotels, and dine in nice restaurants. In the meantime, they are able to escape the day-to-day office setting, learn about new business cultures, and meet new people.
Seasoned business professionals often express that business travel is anything but glamorous. Travel to them means time away from family, an interrupted routine, crowded airports and delayed flights, and less sleep.
Going into two years of business travel as a consultant, I can see the argument to both sides. First starting to travel for business, I couldn’t wait to go to different cities, with the hopeful anticipation that I would have time to explore the destinations. With more and more trips, though, I have learned that business travel involves busy days full of meetings and evenings spent dining with clients or colleagues and preparing for the next day of meetings. Rather than be pessimistic though, I was determined to make the most of my business travel, and inspirNationalize it, focusing on the fact that business travel involves limited time. Below I have captured some tips that have helped me inspirNationalize my business travel, and I invite others with more business travel experience to add their insights as well.
Quick note: inspirNationalize is my latest term relating to an inspirNational mindset, which inspires me to take action! It means to seek opportunities, be worldly, explore, and make the most of any situation.
How can you inspirNationalize your business travel?
Try local food. In my experience, food has been the main special occasion of business travel and is the most common “break” from meetings. You will likely have three square meals a day, so this is your chance to learn about your destination’s culture through cuisine.
Open the blinds of the windows in your hotel or meeting room and watch the sunrise/sunset or the skyline of the place you are visiting. It is challenging for those of us with wanderlust to not get out and explore where we are traveling, but at least we can admire the scenery from a distance.
If you have time to exercise, go outside (weather permitting, of course). Take a walk around the company premises or near your hotel. Ask your hotel concierge about exercise paths throughout the city, which is a great way to multitask (or call yourself a business traveling tourist athlete ;)?) and get a quick tour of your destination.
Read local newspapers or tourist magazines provided in your hotel room. This will increase your awareness about the current happenings, customs, and traditions of your destination. This will help liven and personalize your business conversations in the local area as you will be “in the know” about the latest news and can relate to your business counterparts. It will also provide you with ideas for leisure activities should you have free time or decide to return to the destination for vacation.
Talk to locals. Learn about what they like to do and their lifestyle. For those with extra free time, ask the locals for best restaurants or activities to do while in town. The locals will help you avoid tourist traps and give you a more genuine taste of the location.
Learn about your client or company’s involvement in the community. Their involvement will tell you more about key issues and unique cultural aspects of your destination. In my line of work, this is a natural conversation with my sustainability and corporate responsibility projects. Regardless of your line of work, these conversations are becoming more and more common (in the U.S., and are already common worldwide) as several companies are releasing sustainability reports and integrating corporate responsibility efforts with their overall corporate strategies. You’ll experience a win-win in this case—you’ll learn more about your destination like a traveler with an inspirNational mindset and you’ll also develop a deeper understanding of your business.
With every business trip I have learned something new and have felt more inspirNational. I know that we all have our own ways of making the most of our work trips, such as visiting friends in the area or purchasing souvenirs only available in the location. I look forward to building this list as I gather more insights and experiences. How else do you inspirNationalize your business travel?