Traveling for business and leisure is increasingly common, yet balancing work and play can be a challenge. It shouldn’t be. We know that the two complement each other, and we need both in order to be creative and express our best ideas.
Every journey has huge potential to be enriching and empowering, and we’re committed to helping you uncover that potential. That’s the purpose of this column: we answer popular questions about how best to balance travel demands, professional obligations, and personal fulfilment. If you’re wondering how you can create the most productive, engaging, and meaningful travel experiences, let us know—and in our next issue of Paid Leave, we’ll answer the most popular questions.
"Traveling for business and leisure is increasingly common, yet balancing work and play can be a challenge."
1. Is it OK to extend a business trip for personal reasons?
In today’s working landscape, there’s an opportunity for everyone—C-suite executives, junior administrators, freelance contributors—to take advantage of a paid-for trip across the globe. And it comes as no surprise that everyone wants to extend these “business trips” for some personal vacation time. Still, there are a few things to consider before requesting extra days off.
Money matters: There are obvious benefits to extending a business trip (who wouldn’t want an extra day to explore...or to stand in line at the hottest new restaurant in Portland?), but it’s best if you can make it worthwhile for everyone involved. In other words: you need to do your research. Suggest staying at an Airbnb instead of the swankiest hotel in town, or scour the airlines to find the cheapest return flight. Financial incentive can go a long way.
Mixing business with pleasure: You may “technically” be on vacation, but you have to remember what brought you to a new city in the first place—and that’s business. Use these extended trips as an opportunity to reconnect with clients or partners in the area while simultaneously crossing off a few bucket-list items. Who could resist meeting for coffee in Toronto’s Distillery District?
Work hard, play hard: There’s never going to be an ideal time to extend a business trip—but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Dedicate some extra hours to the job before the trip or work offline during your flight (more on this below) to stay on top of deadlines.
"...but it’s best if you can make it worthwhile for everyone involved. In other words: you need to do your research."
2. What are some tips for being productive during a flight?
These are our tried-and-true tricks to stay concentrated when we’re at 30,000 feet:
Don’t assume that you can take on demanding assignments during your flight. Instead, divide your time into manageable, two- to three-hour tasks—including things like watching movies, dozing off, and letting your mind wander. Time will move much faster, and you’ll be more mindful and rested when you reach your destination. White noise and meditation apps can help, too—they signal the brain that it’s time to rest and can ultimately relieve jet lag when you arrive at your destination.
Download podcasts and magazine articles that you’ve been meaning to get through; this is a low-pressure way to stay productive while staying engaged through a long flight.
If you do want to tackle emails and assignments, save them to your desktop or Dropbox ahead of time so that you can work offline (Gmail’s new offline feature is helpful, too). You can also edit photos and prep social captions while you’re on the plane so that they’re ready to post as soon as you touch down.
"Don’t assume that you can take on demanding assignments during your flight. Instead, divide your time into manageable, two- to three-hour tasks—including things like watching movies, dozing off, and letting your mind wander."
Bonus tip: Creative Workbooks will help you make the most of uninterrupted time between stops. Jot down ideas that spark on your phone or in your notebook; who knows where they’ll take you next.
3. How can I make the most of a layover?
When you plan your layover strategically, you can do all the things you couldn’t during your flight. Just remember to plan in advance and stay connected. It may seem like this goes without saying, but make sure that you have all your cords (and a reliable portable charger!) in your carry-on bag. There’s nothing worse than watching your laptop or phone die, and being powerless (yes, we went there) to stop it.
If you truly want to make the most of an extended layover, plan it strategically in a city you’ve been keen to visit. Give yourself about eight hours, store your luggage, and leave the airport (several of the world’s largest terminals charge as little as $10 to store luggage for up to 24 hours). Of course, you’ll have to plan for security and customs on your way back in—but taking a short sojourn into a new city is well worth the trouble. San Francisco, Hong Kong, Singapore, London, Amsterdam, and Dubai are cities whose airports are located within easy commuting distance to downtown.
"If you truly want to make the most of an extended layover, plan it strategically in a city you’ve been keen to visit."
Have you got questions about what to do, where to go, or how to make the most of each stage of the journey? Send them our way—we’ll keep answering popular inquiries in our next issue of Paid Leave.
Written by Dillon Ramsey