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Personal Business Travel

Updated on January 3, 2013
If it wasn't for business travel, I never would have had an opportunity to visit the Taj Mahal.
If it wasn't for business travel, I never would have had an opportunity to visit the Taj Mahal.

The Eiffel Tower. The Palace of Versailles. The Bavarian Alps. The Taj Mahal. The San Diego Zoo. The Breakers Hotel. The Smithsonian. The Blue Monster. Siesta Key Beach. The Monterey Bay Aquarium. The Tsukiji Fish Market. The Kyoto Imperial Palace. Universal Studios Orlando. Knott’s Berry Farm. The Santa Monica Pier. The La Brea Tar Pits. Napa Valley. Palm Springs Tramway. The Hoover Dam.

This is a list of world-class attractions that many travelers would love to cross off their lifetime bucket lists. For me, they have something else in common: They’re all places I’ve visited during business trips. For anyone who takes business trips, you should make the most of your business travel experiences.

How Do You View Business Travel?

There are two ways to look at business travel. You can think of it as nothing but a hassle, with long work days, hours wasted waiting for flights at the airport, time spent away from family, and pure exhaustion. If you have this view of business travel, you’re sure to dread every trip as a waste of time and energy.

Or, you can make the most of your business travel by exploring new places, experiencing new cuisines, and learning about new cultures. With a little planning, you can turn business travel into a great perk. If you have this view of business travel, you’ll have an adventure whenever business needs call you away.

After all, when you go on a business trip, your company will pay for all or most of your transportation, dining, hotel and other travel expenses. You’ll only need to foot the cost of any additional expenses that were not necessitated by your business needs, which are typically small or even zero for many activities.

It’s entirely up to you to decide how to view your business travel, and it may be easier to find adventure or a good experience on some business trips than others. But it’s possible to squeeze some adventure into just about any business trip. Here are hints to make the most of your business travel experiences.

Finding Time for Adventure on Business Trips

Many business warriors lament that they have no time for anything interesting on their trips. They say that their trips consist solely of traveling, attending business meetings, eating out, and staying at hotels.

There are, however, ways to find time for adventure or fun on virtually any business trip. One way is to arrange your business trip in a way that provides some down time. For example, you could fly in early the day before your business meeting, giving you an afternoon and evening to enjoy your destination. On longer trips, you could arrange your meetings on Friday and Monday so you can enjoy the weekend.

Another way to find time for adventure is to find interesting ways to do things you need to do anyway. For example, since you need to eat dinner anyway, why not find a good restaurant that specializes in the local cuisine rather than order room service? Or, since you need to stay in a hotel anyway, why not opt to stay in a boutique hotel in a trendy area of the central city rather than the Hilton out by the airport. Or, rather than take a cab to your meeting, why not take a water taxi or rickshaw or other local option?

Finding People to Enjoy the Experience With

Many business travelers don’t make the most of their business travel because they are traveling alone. Since they aren’t with anyone, they don’t think about finding ways to better enjoy their experiences.

Luckily, there are ways to minimize the problem of having nobody to enjoy your travel experiences with. A good way to find people to share an adventure while traveling on business is to invite a local business associate to dinner or a show or some other activity. You will likely improve your working relationship with that person, and you will probably learn more about the local area and have a far better time.

Another way to find people to share an adventure while traveling on business is to arrange to meet up with another person during your trip. Why not, for example, invite your spouse to join you for part or the entire trip? Your company is already paying for your hotel room, and it won’t cost anything extra for a second occupant. And you may be able to use frequent flyer miles for your spouse’s airline ticket. Or, call up somebody you know who lives in the area, and ask if he or she is available for dinner or a show.

Or, simply enjoy the opportunity to travel alone on your business trip. Even in the best marriages, there are certain things that one spouse enjoys while the other does not. For example, if you love seafood but your spouse does not, then use the opportunity to get a delicious seafood dinner on your business trip.

Finding Fun Things to Do On Your Business Trips

Some business trips are so busy that there’s little time to even think about finding fun things to do.

There are, however, numerous ways to search out entertainment or interesting places on even the busiest business trip. Ask the concierge to suggest a restaurant that offers authentic local cuisine. Ask the hotel clerk for a map showing a walking or jogging map through nearby residential neighborhoods. Ask your local business associates the following question and then follow through on their answer: “If you only had one afternoon to see something in your city, what attraction would you choose to see?”

Staying Out of Trouble with Your Employer

One tricky aspect of combining business travel with personal travel experiences is to keep any personal travel expenses separate from your business travel expenses that will be reimbursed by your employer. While most of your expenses will be reimbursed, you should use a personal credit card or cash to pay any added costs, such as the costs of movie or theater tickets, souvenirs, extra expenses such as meals for your spouse who accompanies you, etc. To help decide when I should personally pay for an expense, I always used the following mental test: “Imagine that my boss calls me into his office after my trip and asks for an explanation of each expense that I listed on my expense report. Would I be perfectly comfortable explaining it? If not, then it was a personal expense and I should pay for it myself.”


Business travel can be a wonderful opportunity to see places that you might not otherwise see, and to experience exotic foods, cultures and attractions that you might not otherwise experience. While it may be difficult to find the time or energy to partake in these adventures on busy business trips, you owe it to yourself to make some spare time or use what time you have to make the most of the opportunity.


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