When was the last time you took a vacation? Can’t remember? You’re not having a senior moment, you’re an entrepreneur, and as such, notoriously reluctant to take even an overdue breather. After all, who puts out the fires, pitches new business, and can be trusted to keep things afloat when you’re gone?
And yet… all work and no play isn’t good for your business or your life. Recharging is key to keeping your energy up. So consider a strategy I’ve employed from time to time and turn your next business trip into a long weekend. Yes, it works better in San Diego than it does in Duluth, but in my experience, any town with a gym, salon, movie theater, a few good restaurants and – heaven help us – a decent spa will suffice. Just follow my lead:
- Plan ahead. Virtually any location can provide the basis for a great long weekend adventure, but you may need to do a little digging, says Nick DeRenzo, an editor at Budget Travel. “Everything feels the same in a business meeting – you’re in a conference room with blank walls. So you have to tap into what makes the city unique.” Make restaurant reservations. Buy theater tickets. That and a bubble bath is vacation enough for most, but if you want to explore, call the chamber of commerce before you go and ask about B&Bs or road trips. Most people love to talk about where they live.
- Rent a convertible. Does a compact or mid-sized sedan scream leisure travel? Not exactly. But get a car that has a top you can put down, and all the sudden you’re Bridget Jones on a mini-break. You’re having fun. And no, a sun-roof doesn’t count. If you’re going on holiday, go all the way.
- Use your concierge. “If you make friends with your concierge early on, it’s a really good opportunity to save time by having him do all the work for you. A good example is here in New York – a lot of people spend hours on the TKTS line or looking online for Broadway tickets, but a concierge can really expedite the process for you,” says DeRenzo. He or she can also help suggest activities your family can do during the day while you’re in business meetings.
- Get creative. The typical tourist attractions could pose a few problems on a trip like this. Some may only be open during the day, when you’re working. So consider other activites. “Without going to too far out of the city – or sometimes within city limits, you can find some great nature escapes. In places like Seattle, Portland or Denver, you can hop on a bus and be hiking in 10 minutes,” suggests DeRenzo. And of course (particularly if you’re sans kids), you’ll want to tap into the nightlife. If you have an iPhone, the Happy Houred app will let you search for happy hour specials based on your location and other preferences.
- Sleep in. What’s the worst part of a holiday? Realizing you have to get up in the middle of the night to get to the airport for your trip home. Immediately, you undo all the good you did yourself. If you’re traveling back on Sunday, sleep til 10, have a leisurely brunch (could there be a more vacation-y meal), then get yourself back to the airport to get home. Oh, and if you have the miles to do it, upgrade.
- Finally, keep your expenses separate. You can – and should – write off any business related travel expenses, but the personal ones are on you. Make sure you’re paying with the correct credit cards, saving the correct receipts, and generally staying organized. Trust me, you’ll thank me for this come tax time.