I bleisured (combined business and leisure travel) long before it had a name. Although the bleisure trend has remained flat over the past five years, more than half of business travelers plan to do it in 2017. When I was in my 20’s, I would tack on an extra day to my trips to man (or woman) a trade show booth, so I could cavort with colleagues and other show-goers. During my corporate career, as a working mother of two young daughters, I looked forward to having a cocktail after work, sleeping through the night in my own king-sized hotel bed and squeezing in a massage or shopping. (I hope my daughters – now grown – aren’t reading this!) As an entrepreneur, I deliberately target speaking gigs and conferences in places I want to visit. Now, as an empty-nester and writer, I have also mastered the art and science of bleisure travel and will be sharing my tips and recommendations with readers.
- Define Leisure and Plan Well. The purpose of bleisure travel is to provide peace and relaxation. If bringing your family along on a trip where you’re going to be consumed by business and stressed-out, think twice about your strategy. Allow for totally free time, childcare, or other “escape valves.” Compartmentalizing your time and energy is the key to true bleisure travel. Leave your phone and laptop in your room or simply shut them off during the hours you’re supposed to be “off duty.”
- Follow the Financial Rules. If you work for a company with travel policies, be honest with them about what part of your trip is for work and what is for play. Account for your expenses carefully. (I use two separate credit cards when I travel.) Bleisure travel will quickly lose its luster if you get audited or busted by your CFO. As a business owner, encouraging a certain amount of bleisure travel can be a low-cost team perk. Employees get relaxation time without extended vacations.
- Pack Smart. This is sometimes especially difficult for women travelers. Pack “cross-over” items like leggings that can go from sportswear to speaking gig or shirts that can be professionalized by throwing on a sports jacket.
- Room Service and Car Rental Serve a Purpose. If you’re adding a day on to conference travel, you don’t want to run into people at the hotel bar who will be “talking shop” non-stop. Hide-out in your room or in local establishments where you’re not likely to run into people sporting name tags.
- Use Time Zone Differences to Your Advantage. If you’re from the east coast, don’t fight that natural urge to wake up at 3AM when on the west coast, or to stay up late when in Europe. Embrace it! Before the meetings start or after they end, take watch the sun rise over San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge at the Golden Gate Overlook with a cup of coffee, or walk the quiet streets of London by the Tower Bridge after everyone has gone to bed. It is a big part of the peace that is Bleisure!
- Watch the Tan and Don’t Gloat! While your colleagues know you were away for legit business, flaunting a deep tan in the middle of winter can cause extra levels of angst. You know what you did was on the up and up, but they might be resentful. Play things cool while basking in the warm sun!
- Don’t Feel Guilty. Life is full of pressure and work. Allow yourself a few hours during every business trip to unplug. Don’t apologize. Don’t rationalize!
Let’s embrace the bleisure movement and we’ll all live longer for it (and we will have more pleasant memories than just what was on the PowerPoint slide at the conference)!
P.S. This was written while during two days at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, prior to a conference, a lovely spot for bleisure travel!
Up next: How to book the best bleisure hotels.