While traveling for business can seem glamorous and exciting, the reality can be lonely and tiresome. In fact, in a study of over 1,000 business travelers conducted for Marriott's Fairfield Inn & Suites, it was found that half of respondents said that the most stressful part of traveling was missing family. Frequent travel can disrupt your regular routine and relationships. However, the same study found that 60 percent of business travelers said they felt free to do whatever they want on the road, “which gave them an empowering sense of freedom.” Travelling can give us new opportunities to learn more about ourselves and about the world.
So how do we revel in that sense of freedom, rather than resent the drudgery of business travel? Here are 10 fun activities that can help add to the excitement and unique opportunity of getting to travel around the country or the world.
Go on a morning run
Running can be a great way to cover ground in a new place and scope out places you’d like to revisit later. Before the day’s work activities, chart out a morning run (or walk, if running isn’t quite your stride). Apps like MapMyRun can give you suggestions for routes to take based on the city you’re in. Just don’t forget to pack your running shoes!
Play the foodie
Some say that the best way to get to know a culture is through its food. Before you touch down, find out the places where you can get an authentic taste of the place you’re visiting. One way to do this is through apps like Yelp or TripAdvisor, or by reading travel blogs. Even better, find where the best places to go are through friends and acquaintances who know the area. If you’re traveling outside the U.S., make sure to read up on tipping etiquette and dining customs beforehand.
Visit a museum
Museums are one of the best places to learn about and connect with a place, whether it’s through art, history, or culture. Find out what times and days the museums you want to go to are open beforehand, so that you can make visiting them a priority in your schedule. For example, the Museum of Modern Art in New York has free admission from 4:00 – 9:00 p.m. on Fridays, making it the perfect stop after a day packed with work meetings. Do your research before you go, so you know when the museums you want to visit will be open.
Rent a bike
Another great way to cover ground in a new place is to rent a bike. If there’s a place to rent bikes, there’s probably a good place to bike nearby – and rental shops can also provide recommendations. Many cities also have dedicated bike paths that go through and outside of the city.
Catch a play, concert, or sports game
Okay, so that’s actually three separate activities. The point is, taking yourself out to see a performance – whether it’s on the stage or the field – can be an added bonus to the trip that you can look forward to, both before the trip and during your workday there. Just remember to book tickets in advance!
Indulge your hobby
Are you an avid yogi? Do you knit in your spare time? Do you practice a particular style of dance? Sometimes you can gain a unique view on a new place by seeing how your hobby is practiced in different places. Connecting with your hobby can also be a way to feel at home in an unfamiliar place. While Minneapolis may be an unfamiliar city to you, the Zumba routine or the Bikram yoga class can take you back to a familiar feeling.
Some of the best discoveries about a new place can be made when you’re not looking for anything. Start off in a neighborhood you’d like to visit, look at a map to decide the general direction you’d like to walk in, and then observe and discover all along the way. Always keep your street smarts, but don’t be afraid to wander.
Is there something unique or special that you can bring back for your family members or a friend? Do you have a postcard or shot glass collection that you’d like to add to? Trying to find a something special to bring back for yourself or the people you care about can give direction and purpose to your wanderings around the city. Also, the memories you bring back don’t have to be physical items. Walking around and capturing photos or writing down your impressions can also create lasting memories that you can take home with you and share with others.
Sign up for a class
Business travel certainly has many perks. “But you’re also yanked out of your regular, comfortable routine, spend too much time standing in airport security lines, and you’re miles away from people who know you well,” writes Amy Gallo, a writer and speaker on workplace dynamics, in the Harvard Business Review. “The excitement can wear off easily—and many business travelers are left feeling lonely.” Finding a class or workshop to attend gives you the chance to spend time with other people, and learn something along the way. It could be a simple exercise class, a unique class on cooking local cuisine, or a poetry workshop – just something that gives you a chance to meet and interact with other people.
Do as the locals do
Is the state fair happening the week you’re there? Can you simply not leave without sampling the clam chowder? Is there a certain type of fruit that only grows in the area? Ask around and find out what makes the place you’re going unique and special – and then do it!
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