More than 40 % of Americans took not one of their vacation days in 2014 according to a Skift poll
Most people cite lack of time and lack of money for reasons not to take vacation. Seems like most people I know have to travel for business at least once in a while, is there a way to see a little of the world while traveling for business? Seems like an opportunity to see someplace (maybe not of your choosing, but everyplace has something interesting to see!) without losing productivity or having to pay for the hotel room! Here are my tips for how to make any business trip productive and an interesting mini vacation!
1) Do just a little research. Even just google top ten things to do in "insert your destination here". You'll come up with a list of things, some of which have to be do-able after hours! Try fit in at least one or two of the sights that make a place interesting or unique. There is nothing worse than going to an interesting place and coming away with nothing but memories of the conference room walls! My friend Doug, who has run a marathon in nearly every continent and both poles, often organizes his pre race training routes to take in the sights he knows he won't have enough time to visit during a short visit for the race. Jeff recently had a jam packed itinerary of meetings and travel in Britain and Spain recently, and managed to fit in a late night photo walk to see Alhambra
2) You have to eat! Even if you don't have time tour any of the interesting sites, you'll need to eat. This is an opportunity to have a "local" experience. Ask the concierge at the hotel where you can get a meal or treat that is special to the location. Whether its wings in Buffalo or noodles in Saigon, every place has it's iconic cuisine...find it and it's like taking a tiny culinary vacation!
3) Ask a colleague or friend to take you to just one or two of their favorite places. If it's a trip where you have a colleague or client, it gives you an opportunity to bond. If you are completely on your own, you'd be surprised how many cities have "free" walking tours led by a local interested in meeting visitors. These can be found by asking the concierge or checking Trip Advisor destination discussion boards. There is practically every destination you can imagine listed! You can even post that you are looking for a 1 or 2 hour itinerary in the city you are visiting and local destination experts will often weigh in with great ideas. Be sure to practice travel safety rules when meeting up with strangers!
4) Take photos, post them if you like, or not, but taking photos makes you feel (and sometimes look!) like a tourist rather than a business traveler. Most people want to avoid "looking like a tourist", but when you look like a visitor rather than a business person, you are more likely to have locals ask "Where are you from?" and start an interaction that can turn a business trip into an opportunity to make new friends!