Fortunately, I learned early in my career to maximize business travel and sleep when I got home. It seemed crazy to fly to a place I’d never been and sit in a conference room and hotel room the entire trip. I work with someone who travels the world for business and when I questioned whether he saw the Great Wall or Terracotta Warriors on a recent trip to China, he said, “I ate Chinese food in China, so that counts as visiting the country.” Wow…what a wasted opportunity.
Besides accruing loyalty points, business travel provides an opportunity for an all-expense (at least partial) paid vacation. At a minimum arrive the day before or leave a day later. I often add a weekend at one end and pay for an extra night or two out of pocket. I was in San Jose, Costa Rica for work a couple weeks ago and thought I’d check out someplace new. Nicaragua is much less expensive than CR and just a quick hour flight for $130RT. I stayed at Hotel Colonial Grenada in city center, within walking distance of Lake Nicaragua, for $75/nt.
Side Trip Criteria
It was an hour process to figure out, and book, my Nicaragua side trip. I first took a look at Panama and using Marriott points but things didn’t align. Granada, on the other hand, checked off the right boxes:
- Flights aligned
- No visa requirement
- New country
- Cool town
Similarly, I often bring my family on my business trips. They get a free base camp, we get to be together, and my airfare is covered. I recently had a conference in Orlando which allowed them to stay at a great hotel (with waterslides) and to visit Disney World. I used points to add a couple nights at the same hotel so I could enjoy time with them. They’ve joined me on international trips as well, including the UK and Romania, for which we added a couple weeks of vacation to each.
Pro Tip: A side benefit of bringing the family is no guilt-trip for leaving them. Even on trips where they don’t come, they know you are earning points for the family cause!
Considerations / Challenges
- Most large companies require you to book your flight through their travel portal – make sure to book your family at same time to ensure you can get the same flights and comparable price (it gets even more complex if trying to book family tickets with points)
- Make every effort to keep family and personal portion of expenses separate from business. When this is not feasible, keep track and adjust when submitting your expense report. Don’t compromise your ethics or lose your job!
- See if your boss will let you work remotely (keep up on anything critical) during personal portion, so you use less vacation time and/or extend your stay. Demonstrate the benefit to increase your work flexibility.
- If bringing children, work with teachers to do report on trip or get homework package to avoid counting as absence (your kids will learn more from travel). When flexible, plan business trips during school breaks.
Please share any tips and tricks you have to supplement business travel. What’s the coolest add-on trip you’ve done? Take a look at the Packing and Gear Guides for tips and tricks on planning your next adventure!
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