5 ways to squeeze more downtime into your next business trip

Free time can be hard to come by when you’re traveling on the clock but having the opportunity to see a new place is a perk.

Photo: Alessandro Vallainc

Traveling for work? Brace yourself for long work days. Between getting to your destination, long meetings, follow-up work in your hotel room and then perhaps a meal with clients, business travel isn’t as glamorous at it sounds.

In fact, according to a men’s suit retailer Jos. A. Bank survey of 2,000 American business travelers, the average traveler only has two hours to themselves when away for work. In addition, added hassles include being away from family, airports issues and living out of a suitcase.

Here are some strategies to gain some rest and relaxation while on a business trip.

Take in the city

Knowing that you’re on a tight schedule will keep you productive. Free time can be hard to come by when you’re traveling on the clock but having the opportunity to see a new place is a perk.

Try a restaurant that serves local cuisine, walk to a meeting rather than catching a ride and explore the destination if you have a gap in the day.

Build in some extra time during your long days

Before or after your work is when you may have some extra time.

“Build in some extra time before or after your work obligations,” says Mary Beth Blake, brand president of Jos. A. Bank. “Perhaps an early morning run outside before your day starts, or take in a local comedy show after your last meeting.”

Turn to local contacts for suggestions

Since you’re in their town for business, use these contacts as a resource.

“If you have the time to do any preplanning, ask locals in the area if they have any recommendation of favorite places to visit or eat, and you can build that into your schedule,” continues Blake.

If you really do need to spend extra time answering some work emails, do it in a café rather than your hotel room, she continues.

“Most places have free WIFI, and you can still get some work done, but see something other than your hotel room,” adds Blake.

Bond with coworkers outside a boardroom

Your coworkers along for the trip may be great companions for meals out or a stroll through town, says Blake.

“Or there may be opportunities to catch up with some colleagues from the past while you are town,” she suggests.

Take some time to connect with your network before arriving and have some plans in place.

Add a day to decompress

Although many may find it hard to add in an extra day of leisure to a business trip, if your travels take you to a more exotic destination than usual, add some time and plan an itinerary, suggest Blake. Understand this will be at your own expense and that personal time will need to be used.

Erica Lamberg|is a business, health, and travel writer whose work appears in Gannett, US News & World Report, Bankrate, MSN, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Reader’s Digest and NBC News