If fielding calls from the office while on vacation is part of your job, then can the inverse be true as well? Absolutely, according to a growing contingent of professionals who are leveraging business travel as an opportunity for me-time abroad.
“We all work so hard, and so many people don’t even use their time off,” says Raissa Espiritu, who often travelled while working for a Canadian university. “Tacking vacation onto a work trip is one way around that.” On the tail end of a business trip that included stops in Asia and Australia, Ms. Espiritu says, she made the most of her time on the other side of the globe by adding a few extra days to the itinerary in Sydney. There, she strolled along the coastal trail that connects the city’s beaches, took in the iconic harbour views and otherwise played tourist. It was the exact opposite of the fundraising meetings that brought her there, and that was precisely the point.
Hot on the heels of the “staycation,” “bleisure” travel – extending a business trip to also incorporate a mini-vacation – is the latest strategy adopted by time-crunched professionals looking to cram a holiday into their schedules. If your job leads somewhere exciting, why not take advantage of being there? After all, you’ve worked for it.
Jared Gordon, a founding partner at management consulting firm Faculty of Change, says taking time to explore the sights can end up being good for business, too. “Even if you have just an hour and a half, you can do a museum and end up with something great to talk about at dinner that night with your clients.”
Given the intensity of work travel – and the inevitable catch-up necessary upon return – setting aside time for mental recuperation is also an effective way to prevent burnout. “Work trips are not nine-to-five,” Ms. Espiritu says. “So the biggest relief during my extra days was that I was on my own schedule. And a little R&R definitely made me feel less stressed when I got back to the office.”
With that in mind, here are a few business trip detours designed to help you return home feeling restored, relaxed, and perhaps, exfoliated.
Leave it to a city that’s home to both Big Tech and abundant natural scenery to bring some calm to your hustle. Hikers looking for the smell of sea breeze should head to Fort Funston, a beach with trails that meander along the adjacent bluffs. Or, strike a tree pose in town: Grace Cathedral hosts transcendental “Yoga on the Labyrinth” classes scored by live music each Tuesday night.
China’s financial hub boasts an impressive neon skyline, but to achieve your own glow, plan a trip to sugar mill-turned-wellness resort Alila Yangshuo. Avid climbers can conquer the nearby Karst mountains, but even those just looking for a massage are sure to appreciate the summits as a scenic backdrop. Back in the city, UnTour’s cooking class teaches you to make your own dim sum, a tactile cultural experience that ends with a tasty reward.
Industrial architecture has never looked as chic as at the Aire Ancient Baths, which repurpose a 19th-century brick factory in the style of grand ancient bathhouses. Move from icy cold to salt-water thermal pools, then finish off with a Himalayan salt wrap spa treatment. An hour outside the city, former Illinois Institute of Technology director Mies van der Rohe’s glass-and-steel Farnsworth House – open for tours April to November – inspires its own kind of calm.
The Palmengarten botanical gardens, which host concerts in summer and light shows around Christmas, encompass 22 hectares of plants drawn from various global climates. To admire more local scenery, book a bike rental and follow the GreenBelt along the Nidda River, or stop into bike shop and café Parrots & Crows for more route suggestions.
If a polar dip in the Hampstead Heath Bathing Ponds sounds too extreme, opt instead for a swim at the Zaha Hadid-designed London Aquatics Centre at Olympic Park – also home to Lee Valley VeloPark’s network of mountain bike trails. Afterwards, gents can book a pampering beard trim at Geo F Trumper, while ladies may consider a stylish cut at Rossano Ferretti’s salon set inside a 1740s mansion.