Traveling for multi-day business trips typically involves some unscheduled downtime. Instead of retreating to your hotel room, seize the opportunity. Venturing out will give you something interesting to talk about when making conversation at a seminar or luncheon. Take advantage of travel apps, Google, and hotel staff to plan your adventure.
Here are a few ideas on how to spend your free hours:
- Try a popular local restaurant. After a long flight or day in the car, resist the temptation to put on your pajamas and turn on the TV after checking into your hotel, especially when the training schedule doesn’t kick off until the morning. Instead, grab a quick shower and set out for dinner, ideally a cuisine out of your norm.
- Take in a concert or play. This might be your chance to catch a touring Broadway musical or see a great concert. If you’re staying in a big city downtown, there are probably good options for live entertainment, local museums and art shows.
- Bring your running shoes. Many hotels offer maps or at least guidance for nearby running and walking routes. Call ahead and find a running group to join for your short stay. Rent a bike, or just walk through the city; watch the sun rise and grab a cup of coffee, or take a run around the area to map out restaurants and charming little shops to stop by. If you know someone who will be attending the seminar, reach out and ask them to join you.
- Check out the local sports team. You don’t have to be a big sports fan to have fun at a pro basketball or baseball game – especially if you take along some colleagues or new contacts. It’s an excellent setting to see a more casual side of their personalities.
- Eat at a community table. If a restaurant has a group table that allows you to eat with others, park yourself there. In exchange for your effort to make conversation, you will meet the locals or fellow travelers and undoubtedly have an interesting meal.
- Say yes to group outings. Doing so allows you to get to know your colleagues on a more personal level and probably make some new contacts in your industry.
- Take a cooking class or go wine tasting. If food is your thing, check online at gourmet supermarkets, upscale kitchen or wine specialty shops – they often have cooking classes or wine tastings. Pick up new information and make connections with others who have the same interests.
- Get a massage or pedicure, either at the hotel or a local spa. Ask around to find out which places are highly recommended. Be careful getting your hair done on the road; if it doesn’t work out as expected you will have to live with the consequences throughout your trip. I once went to a hair salon on the advice of a friend and ended up with the worst blow out of my life and had to meet colleagues for dinner soon after. Stick to services that you can fix quickly if necessary.
- Stay flexible. Only buy tickets or make non-refundable deposits when you are sure your plans won’t change. Be ready for any unexpected openings that come up.
For more of my Travel Etiquette Tips, check out my blog, Airline Courtesy: Shrinking Seat Etiquette, on The Huffington Post.