Business trips can be filled with non-stop meetings and networking over lunch, and some who travel as part of their work can spend up to a week in an unfamiliar city without venturing farther than the hotel lobby. No one should feel that their spare time on business trips is unimportant or that it should be spent watching TV on an uncomfortable bedspread with a little room service. It may be cool at first, but weeks after weeks of being away from home later, the novelty’s worn off, and you’re itching to do something. What can you do with your downtime while on a business trip, and how can you get the most out of it? Here are a few tips on events, activities, and how to efficiently plan your mini-excursions between conferences.
Fit Your Fitness Routine In
If your company was smart enough to book you a furnished apartment, there’s a good chance you’ll have a pool or gym to take advantage of. So why don’t you?! If you were to get up an hour earlier, you could squeeze in a 45 min. workout and a shower. Some people don’t feel that 45 minutes in the gym is enough, but it’s better than nothing, and you’ll feel great going into your morning meetings. No gym? Do laps in the pool, or go for a brief walk before breakfast around the block. No excuses here: you can squeeze something in. A little exercise will have you feeling focused and energised for the entire trip.
Buy Tickets for a Sporting Event
You may not be able to duck out for a huge stretch of time, but sporting events can be a great way to blow off some steam after a long day of meet-and-greets. If you’re in a big city during football season or like your hockey, why not book a ticket to a game? You could also use it as a way to network with a couple of people you’ve connected with on the trip. Games for most sporting events typically happen at either 4 or 7 PM, so you will most likely be able to take in a game and some drinks. Escape the hotel room for a few hours, and take a load off!
Unwind at a Spa
Some hotels have spas attached to them, and many apartment rentals have partnerships with them so you literally have a haven of rejuvenation below your feet. If you’ve got a few hours between meetings, why not get a massage and a facial? You could do a pedicure and manicure in an hour or so and be back to work in a flash. The point here is to reclaim some of your ‘me’ time that usually gets lost in a state of confusion and apathy when on the road. If you don’t have a spa in your hotel, try to research what kind of services and shops are in the general vicinity and go pamper yourself.
Go Shopping!
It’s likely that your accommodation is in a city center where there are tons of shops and venues around; life is a few blocks away at most. Get out there and explore the various stores around your hotel, and pick up a few things. You’ll probably want to stick to a budget, but you can buy your partner a gift or get your kids some sort of souvenir. You could also take this opportunity to revamp your wardrobe, and decide on a few new shirts or a stylish pair of pants to slip in your suitcase. See a pair of shoes you’ve got to have? Buy them. Well, at least try them on. A little shopping therapy never hurt anyone.
Do Some People Watching at a Park
If you’re sitting of going places and just want to sit quietly and hear the sounds of nature, take a walk to a nearby park and have a seat on a bench. Hopefully there’s a pond or fountain that you can enjoy while you take in the scenery. If you want to zone out, find a spot and plug into your MP3 player and retreat into a meditation track or some of your favorite relaxing music. Then take a walk through the green space –  Who knows? You may stumble on an amazing food truck with insanely delicious fare.
Maximize Your Time
All of these suggestions are great, but they won’t work if you don’t take a few steps towards maximizing your time. If you want to make the most of free time, you have to do some planning. You probably know where you’ll be going and staying well before you leave, so do some research about what’s in the area. Find out where all the action is, and plan ahead. If you know you have an early day that ends at 1 or 2 PM, buy tickets for a concert or big game before you leave home. Book a table at an exciting restaurant for you and your colleagues before your plane takes off. You could micro-manage the most minute of details too. For instance, you can find the best routes to and from your stops and figure out how to save time and money getting to and from your work commitments or playtime destinations. Plan it out, and you’ll have more time than you know what to do with for enjoying the places you have to visit.

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