When done for pleasure, travel is almost always fun and exciting. After all, you get to see brand new places, try out new cuisines and maybe even relax a little. Business travel, however, feels a lot more like, well... work. Traveling for business purposes is fairly common in the U.S.: The Bureau of Transportation Statistics says that Americans rack up more than 405 million long-distance trips for business each year.
Whether you travel for business once or twice a year or it's more like once or twice a week, here are some things you can do to make your business travel more enjoyable.
Pack as Little as Possible
Packing light can be difficult when you need a mix of business and leisure clothes, but look at it this way: Do you want to waste your time and energy worrying about a lost bag on a business trip? Probably not. If you can manage to contain your belongings in a carry-on bag you'll save yourself potential headaches.
Make Your Airport Experience Better
If you travel for business often, it may be worth upgrading your airport experience so you can deal with fewer hassles. The first thing to consider is whether TSA Pre-Check is right for you; if it is, you'll save plenty of time in the security line—your $85 access lasts for 5 years. You should also see if you qualify for any frequent flyer programs that include lounge access. Lounges, with their comfortable furniture and free food, sure beat sitting at the gate waiting for your flight. If you don't qualify you can often buy a day pass, which can be put to use if you get to the airport extra early or have a long layover.
Do Something that's Not Business Related
Yes, so much of your time is spoken for on a business trip, but take a few minutes to check your schedule and see if there's anywhere to fit in some fun. Consider a quick museum trip during the day's lunch break, or see if one day ends a little earlier and you can fit in a short walking tour of the city. Having something other than business meetings to look forward to will definitely make your trip more pleasant.
Plan for One Good Meal
Business meals don't have to equal boring, even if it's necessary to eat with your colleagues. Take a few extra minutes to look up good restaurants near your hotel. Then, when everyone starts discussing meal plans you can speak up and suggest a few well-rated establishments that locals love instead of getting stuck at the nearest tourist trap again.
Prep Your Devices Before You Leave
There's nothing worse than frantically searching for information on your phone before your flight and realizing that it's been a few weeks (or months... or years...) since you've updated important apps. Make sure everything's up to date (at least the night before before you leave home), and be sure to check if there are any destination-specific apps you can download to help you get familiar before you arrive.
Add an Extra Day to Your Itinerary
This one isn't always possible, but why not see if you can add an extra day to your trip? You're already taking time to be there, so if you can show up on a Sunday instead of a Monday or if you can spare just one vacation day, do it! Having a full day to yourself means restaurants, sightseeing, shopping—whatever you want to do. If your destination is a city you love or have always wanted to visit, you'll likely have plenty on your list of must-sees and must-eats. And even if you're touching down in a "boring" locale, I think you'd be pleasantly surprised at what you might find there (just ask a local!).
How do you make your business trips feel less like "work"?