Don’t you wish that every trip you take could be a tropical vacation to the Caribbean with endless sunshine, strong margaritas, and sandy toes? If you’re in the corporate working world, at some point you may need to travel for business – beach not included. Replace the sunshine and sandy toes with fluorescent convention center lights and high heels.
I’m here to assure you that work trips don’t have to be all bad! With a little bit of curiosity and a splash of pre-trip homework, you can turn your business travel into an awesome mini-vacation.
The name of the game here is to take a good, hard look at your work schedule, see what kind of free time you’ll have, and fill said free time with non-work fun!
Google Maps will become your best friend to guide you once you’ve reached your destination, but it’s also a great tool to formulate a game plan before you jet-set. Locate your hotel on the map and zoom out a tad to get an idea of what’s around. As you create your list of cool spots to hit, always come back to Google Maps to see how far they are from your hotel – maybe you can walk there, which is the greatest way to get your bearings in a new city.
Most of us use Pinterest for holiday cookie recipes and DIY crafting. It has so much more than that! Whenever I find out about an upcoming work trip, I start by searching the city on Pinterest. Thousands of travel bloggers pin their content to Pinterest, usually with a beautiful image or graphic to draw you in. I always find lists like “10 Best Coffee Shops in Atlanta” or “Denver in a Day.” You’re bound to find some local spots you like. Don’t forget to reference our dear friend Google Maps to see if you can easily get there with the limited free time you’ll have.
When it comes to finding fun things to do in a new city, Thrillist has done most of the heaving lifting for you. They have curated lists of awesome content for 34 cities across the US. Their lists range from under-the-radar restaurants to the best experiences under $10, best free fitness classes, most beautiful streets, and more.
Yes, you read that right. Instagram is one of my favorite tools for pre-trip planning. I’m all about the visuals, so looking up locations on Instagram helps me see realistic shots, not professional stock photos from a website. I can really tell whether a spot is worth checking out from their Instagram presence. My go-to trick is to find a place on Google or Pinterest that sounds interesting, open Instagram, and search under “Places.” Then, you can see all of the photos that have been posted there.
Another Instagram trick is to search the name of the city you’re visiting and browse the top user accounts that pop up. You’ll find food bloggers who eat the best of the best, fashion bloggers who stand in front of cool murals, and the official city Instagram to give you some major inspiration.
Say it with me: events, events, events. When I know I’m headed out on a work trip, I’ll head to Facebook’s events section. “But Amanda, Facebook only shows you events in your area, right?” Wrong! You can click ‘Discover’ and choose a specific day and a specific city. Bam! You’ll get tons of results for events happening in the area, especially for a big city. Yoga classes, art shows, live music, and comedy nights – you name it. There’s bound to be something that you can squeeze in between your work obligations.
I could go on and on with everything I do to make the most of my work trips. Download the airline app so you can watch movies on the plane, walk as much as you can when you get there, Lyft if you can’t walk, and invest in a portable charger for your phone so you can snap endless photos. Turn that work trip frown upside down. Happy “vacationing!”