4 Ways to Make Work Travel Fun
As I sit on a ferry, preparing for a week full of facilitating workshops and client meetings, I find myself thinking of ways to add fun into a full schedule. Working as a consultant with clients across Canada, planes, trains and ferries are a regular part of my work travel.
Instead of dreading work trips, I now look forward to them. Why? As a consultant, for the most part, I’m able to control my schedule. I’m also able to control my work travel experience.
Over 20 years of work travel, I’ve come up with some simple ways to have some fun while away from home.
1. Maximize your trips
I rarely travel for one client. Rather, once a client has booked me for a workshop or meeting, I reach out to existing and potential clients in the area. While this may seem obvious, I’m surprised at how few people do this.
I let them know I will be in the area and can meet with them on specific dates. As a speaker, I also approach organizations who I feel may benefit from hosting one of my workshops.
By providing specific dates, I create urgency and demand for my services. It’s a much different response than, hey I’m thinking of coming to your area in April, are you interested in a workshop. The difference in saying I will be there April 5-9 and am free at these times to provide a workshop shows there is limited availability. Same with client meetings.
The result? I often get booked for additional workshops which is a win-win for both parties. For an interested client they have ammunition (she’s only here these days) to push for hosting a workshop. And for me, as a working mom, it means maximizing my time away from family.
2. Combine work with family
Another trick I use is combining work trips with visits across the country to visit my family. Having worked as a consultant in my home province, I still have many personal and professional connections.
Further to maximizing trips, I book the trip first (with what works for my parents), schedule the dates for family time, then see what space is left in the schedule. Going from this space I then reach out to book client work or meetings.
A bonus of this approach – when I’m able to combine work with visiting family, it means more opportunities to see them. While I’m on the trip, I’m also meeting with clients to book workshops for future trips.
3. Look up friends
Thanks to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social media, it’s easy to keep in touch with friends across the world.
Every work trip I set aside time to visit friends. This is key to bringing fun to work travel. Seeing friends gives me something to look forward to and provides me some much-needed downtime in a busy schedule.
One friend told me when he travels, he looks up 5 people from his LinkedIn who live in that city. He emails them with a date, time and place where he’ll be one night for drinks. He offers an open invitation for them to join him. Here’s the cool part. This group can range from personal friends, to acquaintances or even people he’s never met.
He said this often turns out to be the highlight of his trip. These people tell him places to visit, take him on outings, or even hire him for client work.
4. Do something new
It’s easy to get in a rut when work travel takes you to the same city over and over again. You stay in the same hotel, eat in the same restaurants and go for walks on the same streets.
My work travel often takes me to the Vancouver area, staying in the community where I used to live. I always arrive the day before client meetings so I can revisit my favourite places and meet with a friend.
But I also look for opportunities to explore. This could be as simple as eating in a new restaurant or looking at tourist brochures for a site I have never visited.
I also get a jump on my Christmas shopping. Each year I give food baskets as gifts to family and clients. When I’m away for work, I look for ONE food speciality from that community. I buy lots of that one food. It could be Saskatoon berry jam when speaking in Saskatoon, maple syrup from Ontario, salmon pate from Vancouver.
The idea is as you travel throughout the year, you gather more items for your gift baskets. It gives you a scavenger hunt or mission while on work travel. When Christmas comes, there’s no shopping stress. You just put the items together in a basket. My family and clients have come to look forward to these baskets as they get to taste foods from across Canada.
If you travel a lot for work, how do you bring some fun to your trips? What are some of the ways you explore the area, meet friends or break from your usual routine?