3 Ways To Make The Case For Bleisure

Have you ever told your boss or client that it didn't make sense for you to go on that international business trip? I have. Spoiler alert: I still had to go.

In those moments lies the opportunity to add an extra day or two to the tail end of your international business travel adventure, but of course, there are important questions you should ask yourself before deciding to sprinkle a little time for leisure into your schedule.

Before breaking out these 3 important questions (which I will below), let's start with an example of a time that led me to contemplate these very real considerations.

I was working on a project with eBay's new China subsidiary where we were launching their new community discussion boards. They really wanted me, the Technical VP, and the BizDev VP both to be in Shanghai when the boards went live.

We had been running the community for eBay for years by the time of this project, so it was unlikely something would go wrong, but we tried to explain that if something went wrong, they really would want me in the USA with my team. But, they insisted that we needed to be there. It was their dime.

So we got our visas and flew to Shanghai. It was my first trip to China. We stayed in the Marriott Tomorrow Square which is a high-rise hotel that looked like a rocket ship across the street from the Shanghai Museum. We ate our breakfast in the business lounge on the 25th floor with an amazing view of the city before we joined the local eBay team at their offices.

We arrived just a half hour or so before the switch was to be flipped that would bring the new community live. Everything went as planned. They complained that the boards were slow, but the one advantage of me being there face-to-face was that I was quickly able to diagnose the problem: they were running an Internet company from an office where 300 people were sharing one ISDN line. The board performance was not an issue, their network was.

So... we were one hour into a 2 day trip... and we have nothing else to do. They were busy and did not really feel a need to meet with us. "Why don't you go sightseeing. We will meet you for dinner tonight." It was... their dime, right?

We basically spent 2 full days touring the sights of Shanghai: the modern city of the Pudong, the colonial skyline of the Bund, the Ming Dynasty gardens and the Shanghai Museum. At night they wanted to make sure we were enjoying our visit so they took us out to fancy restaurants.

In all we worked an hour or two on that trip. They didn't need us there... which someone may have mentioned.

Later that year we sent a second team to Shanghai. They were also there for two days, but had the opposite experience. They spent all but one hour in meeting rooms and only managed one hour to run quickly through the Shanghai Museum. Some people just aren't lucky.

You can't always count on my kind of luck, so if your business travel takes you to a country or city that you have never visited, it might be smart to add a day or two to your itinerary.

Want time for leisure fun on your biz trip? Ask yourself these 3 Q's first:

1. Will the cost of an extra day or two increase the cost of the airfare or possibly even decrease it?

My father made a business trip to Ohio from California with a weekend stop to see me at college in upstate New York and saved the company money by doing so. Sometimes it's less expensive to fly on certain days of the week compared to others, so tacking on time to your trip to explore could very well end up saving your company a pretty penny on your travel costs. If you are pitching the idea to your boss, the chance to save company money will never hurt your argument.

2. Would you stay in the same hotel that the company is putting you up in?

It is usually more convenient to stay in your hotel, but sometimes your personal budget may not allow for that. Have hotel loyalty points from frequent business travel? This might be a good time to put them to use. Ultimately, it comes down to what's most important to you--comfort and convenience or cost savings.

3. What can you see without adding additional days?

I used to make frequent trips to TripAdvisor in Boston when I managed a group for them remotely from California. Most nights I would work late or grab something to eat and go back to the hotel. But I tried at least once per trip to either meet up with friends in the area or get downtown. On summer days there might still be daylight enough for pictures--although on winter nights it was rare to get out of the office before dark. But can you shift your schedule earlier? That will certainly depend on the type of business you are in and the reason for the travel.

When you travel for business do you ever tack an extra day or two on the end of your trip? You may have my luck or the no-so-luck of my colleagues, so try to plan ahead and add a little bleisure to your next international trip.

PS: If your small business spends at least $100,000 on annual travel, email [email protected] to learn how your company can earn 3% cash back and save your team time, money, and effort on business travel.

Meet Our Upside Guest Blogger!

Chris is the creator of AmateurTraveler.com. Amateur Traveler is a popular online travel website that focuses primarily on travel destinations. It includes a couple of audio podcasts and a blog. His most popular podcast, Amateur Traveler, comes out weekly and talks each week about a different travel destination.