I am a huge fan of bleisure travel – bleisure travel is a combination of business and leisure travel (business + leisure travel = bleisure travel). Bleisure means extending a business trip with a few days of leisure travel time. The leisure travel days are for the cost of the employee – any transportation for sightseeing and accommodation costs will be for the pocket of the employee.
I try to do bleisure travel whenever I go on a business trip since there are so many advantages to it!
Advantages of bleisure travel
Let’s explore these advantages:
- The most obvious advantage is that your company will pay for the flight for the business trip. As long as your return date does not increase the total flight costs, most companies don’t have an issue with employees flying back a few days later. You may even save the company money if your later return date costs less than the original travel dates!
- Another benefit is that companies normally pay any visa costs, which would have been for your own pocket if you wanted to visit such a country on your own.
- Travel to and from the airport in your home country and the business destination is usually also paid for by the company, regardless of the return date.
- Travelling for work gives you the opportunity to visit countries you may not have visited on your own.
- If the trip allows for it and the business portion ends on a Friday, it is ideal to add the weekend for leisure travel. This means you get some fun out of a business trip using none of your precious vacation days! But even if this is not possible, adding 2-3 vacation days allows you to experience a new culture at a fraction of the cost if you had to do it on your own.
- If you travel frequently for work, make use of loyalty and reward memberships that build up miles for future flights, upgrades and free hotel stays. It adds up over time and you can “enjoy” the inconvenience of business trips.
- Bleisure travel also increases life satisfaction and creates a better feeling of work-life balance. Bleisure travel makes business trips interesting and reduces stress.
There are many benefits to bleisure travel, but there are some disadvantages. For a balanced view, let’s consider these below.
Disadvantages of bleisure travel
- Planning a bleisure trip can seem complex when you have to juggle your employer and your own interests. Make sure extending a business trip does not increase costs for the company. In fact, see if you cannot save on costs.
- It is important to make sure your company allows bleisure trips and what the limitations on these types of trips are, if any. Make sure your manager approves your plans before you make the final bookings and reservations.
- You may find packing for a bleisure trip slightly difficult. Not only must you cater for business meetings and conferences, but you have to take extra clothes for your leisure travel days.
- Finishing the business part of the trip first may make you tired when the leisure travel time starts.
- Your workload may require you to still reply to work emails on your leisure days, which may seem unfair, but it is a small price to pay for the benefits of exploring a new city or culture on your own at a lower cost since you are on a work trip.
These disadvantages are few or significant. A positive mindset and good organisational skills can reduce these disadvantages!
Tips for planning bleisure trips
- Make sure you know what the company’s policies are for bleisure trips before you plan such a trip. Knowing the rules will help you know what it allows and what your company will cover.
- Try to not mix work and personal days. It is also easier to manage expenses and claims after a trip.
- Make sure your manager and colleagues know which days are for business and which are your personal days. This will help with the management of your workload and the expectations your manager may have.
- Where possible, try to have your leisure days over a weekend as most companies don’t expect employees to be available for work over weekends. As mentioned before, you won’t need to use any vacation days if you keep your leisure travel days to weekends!
- Find out if the company’s travel insurance policy will cover your personal travel days. Even if it doesn’t, paying for cover for the additional days will cost very little.
- Be adventurous and explore outside your business trip destination. Just because you have meetings or a conference in one city does not mean your leisure travel has to be in the same destination. Explore a nearby city or region to get a more in-depth experience of a country and its culture. During a recent business trip, I had to travel from Basel to Amsterdam over a weekend. I used the train and visited Strasbourg, France and Luxembourg before reaching Amsterdam the Sunday afternoon. I only had half-days in Strasbourg or Luxembourg, but these are destinations I may never have visited on my own and now I can say I have spent some time there. This approach also helps me identify cities I would like to return to.
- Although bleisure trips are ideal for solo travel, it does not prevent you from taking a travel companion. Your own travel costs would be lower, which makes it more affordable to let your partner or family to join you. Your travel companion can bring along your leisure travel outfits which could lighten your luggage significantly.
- It is always a good idea to first finish the work elements of a trip before starting your leisure travel. The reason for the trip is work, so it should always be your priority. I always take my leisure days after my work days otherwise I cannot relax completely.
- Make the most of your leisure travel time! You would have some extra cash in your pocket because of all the expenses your company would pay and you will get an allowance per day for the business days of the trip. Use this extra funds to treat yourself a little! Research places to see and things to do in advance to make sure you fill your leisure travel days to the brim.
Judge for yourself – will you consider bleisure travel? For me the benefits outweigh the costs and if it helps me explore different countries and cultures, it is definitely worth it!