Business Vacations: 7 Ways to Turn a Work Trip into a Holiday

Planning, Working Abroad — By on August 9, 2010 at 1:54 pm

by Kayleigh Minicozzi
Special to Lost Girls World

Life as a 20-something can be intense. You’re in the earliest stages of your career, the hours are long, the work is new and more often than not, the pay is less than spectacular. That supposed “9 to 5” existence can seem more like a myth as Monday through Friday blur into one long day and weekends are used to catch up on your never-ending professional to-do list.

Sound like you could use a vacation  right about now? Well, unfortunately, you’re probably limited to two-weeks off a year and chances are, you’re probably too busy to take time off at all.  Oh, and did we mention that you’re too broke to pay for a real getaway?

Never fear, dear quarterlifer. The upside to being a newbie professional is that your far more likely than your boss to get scrappy and creative about vacation time (and your limited travel allowance).

As I recently learned, you don’t beg, borrow and plead to get a few days off from your job–you simply have to figure out how to turn company sanctioned business trip in to your own personal vacation.

In my second year out of college, I was assigned to go to LA on business for a week and decided that I would seize the opportunity and make a holiday out of it. Although the possibilities are endless when it comes to morphing business travel into a vacation, below are seven pieces of advice to get you started:

1)   Fly Out Early, Stay Late: Airfare is typically the most expensive part of any getaway, so when I got the the opportunity to travel to LA for work, I decided to use the free flight to my advantage. My office was less concerned with when I flew to the West Coast (or when I returned) than with the price I paid for my ticket. By using flight search websites like kayak.com or cfares.com, I was able to find the best rates while extending my vacation on the front and back end of the work trip. By flying out the weekend before I was scheduled to be inundated with conference calls and meetings, and by staying the weekend after, I carved out a pleasant 4 day work-free portion to my LA adventure.

2)  Leverage the Buddy System: I knew that taking the trip to LA would be a lot more fun if I had a co-pilot along for the journey. Since I already had a hotel room for an entire week for work, I knew I could simply split the price of the extra weekends with my guest. I reached out to a friend of mine with a flexible work schedule and we hatched a plan to travel together, knowing that each of us could benefit from the partnership. She’d get a free hotel room during the week and I’d have someone to spend time with on the weekends.

3) Work Your Per-Diem: One of the best parts of a work trip is the glorious workday per-diem. My company gave me a specific allotment for food and drinks each day of the week I was on the clock. Since I had plenty of wiggle room to spend strategically and save in the long run, my travel buddy and I decided to spend the first full two days allowance on groceries that would last us past the five day period for breakfast and lunch. With most meals covered for our entire stay, it gave us the extra spending cash to indulge a few times at nice restaurants and go to comedy clubs later in the week with our own money.

4)  Show Your Loyalty: It can be easy to overlook or block out the numerous opportunities to sign up for rewards cards from everything from hotels to restaurants. If you are a frequent business or leisure traveler, bite the bullet and just sign up.  Being a loyalty customer can help you rack up airline miles, hotel points or even free dinners and drinks. It may take a little time to build up the points but in the long run you can earn yourself opportunities to eat or travel for free.

5)  Map Out Your Schedule: Nothing’s worse than working 10 hour days when you’re in a new city and knowing that there a whole world outside you’d much rather be exploring. Preparation, planning and goal setting are the best ways to stay at the top of your game–even when you’re typing under a palm tree. I found that mapping out my work schedule daily with specific goals I needed to accomplish each day helped me stay on task and prevented me from procrastinating. I also utilized idle time in the plane, public transportation or air ports to get ahead so I would have more time for fun once I arrived in town.

6)  Re-connect with the Locals: You’ve heard it before…if you want to find out the best places to eat, the best bars to visit and coolest attractions, you need to ask the locals.  Look up coworkers who live in the local area. It’s a great way to network with people in your company and while getting a chance to see the sites with a private guide.  Reaching out to your network of college alums and friends can also yield helpful tips and advice to help make your stay less stressful and more fulfilling.

And last but not least:

7) Save Your Receipts! A working holiday can get very pricey indeed if you don’t have what you need to expense everything when you get back! Keep a small notebook with you at all time and record what you spend as you go–and put every receipt into an envelope so you’ll have them all in one spot when you return.

***

Kayleigh graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in Newspaper Journalism, Religion and Women’s Studies in 2008. A native of upstate New York and current resident of New York City, Kayleigh likes to think of the world as her neighborhood. Utterly fascinated by the universal commonality of the human connection, she got her first taste of travel while studying abroad in Italy as a high school student. Since then she’s seized every opportunity to pack up and see different places and experience different cultures in countries abroad and right here in the United States. In her travel writing she shares her philosophy of being a “Lost Girl” and exploring the globe at any age and with any budget!

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