As a working professional in the U.S.,  I accrue up to three weeks in paid time off. Some peers aren’t so lucky; they only get a solid two. Compared to my peers in Europe, who get a blessed five weeks of holiday, two weeks a year to get away from one’s desk sounds pathetic. What’s a typical 9-5er to do?

More often than not, extending your business trip can be affordable, especially if the company you work for is already footing your return ticket. You’re already in a new (or at least different) destination, so why not make the most of it.

Whether I am able to build in a few extra days to a business trip or not, my goal with any trip I take is to squeeze as much of an authentic experience out of my time in a destination as I can and to treat every trip as an opportunity to explore. When I’m in a new city, I almost always:

  • Hunt down a local coffee shop for a local a.m. jolt. I will admit, I’ve cut it close on business meetings because I refused to enter the corner Starbucks
  • Avoid chain restaurants unless it’s a regional chain or a chain I haven’t yet experienced. (This travel rule, born from a Pacific Northwest road trip I took several years ago with some high school friends, has stuck with me ever since)
  • Dine at the bar to chat up the bartender for a local perspective, and my bar mates for some interesting conversation
  • Maximize my downtime between meetings and events to get outside and walk around, even if it’s only around the block

You might also have the flexibility to travel beyond your work city. For example, I stretched a three-day conference in Houston to include a road trip to Austin for another few days before returning home. Within that span, I was able to chow down on some good barbecue (no not Franklin’s, but it was still delicious. Lesson learned: Get there EARLY), enjoy my first country dance and music at The White Horse and float starfish-style (I mean stand up paddle) down Lady Bird Lake while the UT women’s rowing team muscled their way past our lethargy. Another perk; I was lucky to have a friend join me for the jaunt!

With another business trip on the immediate horizon (Hey Tampa!), I’m also looking forward to checking out some interesting activities I’ve been browsing on Instagram, which is something I recently began doing to supplement the planning process for my international trips.

How do you maximize your business trips? And if you’ve got any recommendations for a quick stay in Tampa, let me know in the comments!

Hanging out at The White Horse, Austin after a three-day conference in Houston. (Love those overalls! Are those Oshkosh?)

Hanging out at The White Horse, Austin after a three-day conference in Houston. (Love those overalls! Are those Oshkosh?)