Business and Pleasure; How To Explore a Destination When Traveling For Business
If you are working in a company that sends you out of town or country assignments, lucky you! No, seriously, lucky you. It’s not that tricky to plan holidays around your leave days, but you can take any travel opportunity as an opening to mix business with some pleasure.
Don’t get me wrong; do your work diligently and attend all those meetings. But when you’re free, don’t just get cooked up in your hotel. Explore the place in the evenings, grab a meal in a different hotel, or go for an evening drink after work before retiring to your hotel.
And, where possible, take a leave day and extend your stay by a day or two so you can relax and explore (that’s if your company agrees to reschedule your return flight and you cater for the extra days’ accommodation). I’ve done this a few times. While sometimes I did not manage to visit all the places I had in mind, I still managed to create new travel memories.
Without further ado, here’s how to mix business and pleasure when traveling for work;
Try to Build in One Extra Day
Where possible, try to squeeze in an extra day at the start or the end of your trip, so you have time to go sightseeing. If you’re employed, your employer is probably paying for the flight ticket. Why not negotiate for an extra day, cater to the accommodation expenses for that extra day, and spend it exploring the destination?
How I did it: On my last trip to Uganda, I took an extra day, and I booked an evening return flight. I left the city early to avoid the heavy traffic, plus I needed to explore Entebbe before my flight. I spent my afternoon on the shores of Lake Victoria at the Imperial Beach Hotel. I did the same in Mwanza. Unfortunately, my morning was overtaken by some work emergency, which robbed me of my chance to visit Saanane Island National Park. I still managed to spend my last late afternoon enjoying lunch and some drinks at Hotel Tilapia with the view of Lake Victoria.
Check Out Local Eateries
Even if you are spending your whole day in a conference room, try to grab some meals or drinks from local eateries. Travel guide sites like Tripadvisor or Expedia could be a start, or you can ask the staff in the hotel you’re staying at or colleagues for recommendations.
How I did it: Most of my lunch hours were spent doing stock counts and reconciling data, but then I’d use my evenings grabbing evening drinks or dinner in different restaurants. I’m always fond of Cassia Lodge in Kampala- the view of Kampala and Lake Victoria atop of Buziga Hill is the best place to catch the sunset after a long day of work.
I tried this in Kisumu twice, and with the help of a friend, I had some delicious meals at Mon Ami and the Sovereign Hotel. Speaking of local eateries, I had a funny experience in Dar Es Salaam. My colleague took me to his local joint to grab late lunch, and I ordered matoke (they didn’t have ugali) and roasted meat, but I ended up with a plate with one roasted banana and some pieces of roasted meat.
How About a Walk or Run?
Even if you are not a running person, an hour of walking or running in a new place can lead you to amazing sites. You can walk through the city streets or try finding local hiking trails or a beach walk if you’re in a destination with beaches.
How I did it: so my trip to Dar es Salaam was quite busy, and I had only 2 nights and 3 days. I didn’t manage to get an extra day ( I can’t recall why), and I still missed my flight (a story for another day). But on the first day, after standing for hours counting stocks (I know), my colleague drove me to Coco Beach, where I spent a few minutes savoring the feel of beach sand on my feet. I tried this in Mwanza, too, and ended spending an evening at the Bismarck Rock park (it’s the featured image, by the way).
Every city or small town you visit will probably have local markets where you can buy some souvenirs for your loved ones. If there are no local markets you want to visit, try some storefronts or malls. It’s a great way to mingle with the locals and experience a part of their culture.
How I did it: On my second day in Dar es Salaam, we skipped lunch outside the office so I could finalize my reconciliations, then we hit one of the local markets, Kariakoo market, where I ended up buying a new suitcase for my shopping (that place is really affordable!). My last morning there was capped by a walk from my hotel to a mall. I visited some local shops and had coffee in a local cafe, which had a book-theme box for saving your receipts!
If you love traveling, but work is taking up most of your time, it’s time you started finding a way to mix business and pleasure. Work smart and find ways to make your business or work trip more fun, and explore the destination as much as you can.