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Make a mini vacation out of your work trips with these 4 tips

May 31 2022
5 min read
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All trips are not created equal. There are romantic getaways, family vacations and trips with friends. Then there are business trips.

All too often, these are quick jaunts that can blur together into an endless parade of hotel ballrooms, bland conference rooms and chain restaurants.

The pandemic has reshaped many things about travel, including the length and frequency of work trips.

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But what about their level of fun? (Yes, fun!)

I’ve always tried to add a little bit of “local” to each of my work trips as a way to break up what can otherwise be a monotonous slog from city to city. These days, I find myself doubling down on those efforts to try to make my work travel just a little bit more exciting.

So how do I do it? Here are my tips for getting the most out of your business trips.

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Always pack a bathing suit

A quick dip in the hotel pool or hot tub can transform a stuffy trip into a mini vacation. OK, that might be overstating it — but at the very least, it can help reset your frame of mind.

I find that the act of taking off my work clothes and putting on a bathing suit forces me to stop thinking about my job for a few minutes. You can swim a few laps and get the blood flowing, or slip into the hot tub and ease those sore traveling muscles.

Try to pack a bathing suit that you know dries fast. Add in a plastic bag, too, just in case it doesn’t. Yes, this is one more thing for your suitcase, but bringing it can help inject a bit of relaxation into your trip.

The swimming pool at the SpringHill Suites Amelia Island at night. (Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

Get outside

It’s all too easy to remain in our travel bubbles. Between taxis, airports and meeting rooms, we forget that we are not actually getting any fresh air.

For me, the best way to get to know a new city is to go on a run. But not everybody enjoys running. That’s OK. There are other ways to enjoy your surroundings.

On a recent trip to Florida, I was still recovering from an injury and couldn’t go on my run. So, I woke up early each day and went for a sunrise walk on the beach.

It wasn’t a giant walk, but it gave me just enough time to enjoy the ocean breeze, hear the waves crash and clear my mind.

The rest of my days were spent in meetings, but I at least felt like I was getting a little bit of a beach trip in.

A sunrise walk on the beach at Fernandina Beach, Florida. (Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

Be smart about upgrades

I usually don’t care about hotel suite upgrades on business trips. Sure they are nice, but I’m typically by myself and not spending tons of time in the room itself.

But I’ve recently been paying more attention to the car I rent.

First off, I almost always rent a car even if other people love relying on Lyft and Uber. Having a car forces me to not have my head buried in my phone. I need to look out the window, see what’s around, pay attention to directions and get a sense of an area.

I have elite status with all three big car rental agencies and love to pick my own vehicle with Hertz and National. And on my recent Florida trip, I noticed that a convertible was shockingly only $10 more a day than a standard ride. For my two-day trip with sunny skies and spring-like weather, it was well worth the added expense.

I didn't have a ton of time to drive, but when I did, each ride felt like a mini adventure.

A Ford Mustang convertible rented from Hertz. (Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

Try local restaurants

My final tip is probably the most obvious one but also the most important: Sample local food.

If you don’t know a good spot, ask your business contacts, the hotel bartender or just about anybody you come across.

It’s easy to get trapped in an endless parade of airport lounge cheese cubes or bland burgers at chain restaurants. Too easy. So, put a little bit of effort in to find something different.

With a group, you can still have a good time without feeling like your meal is the same as the last 20 you've had on the road.

If traveling alone, I usually dine at the restaurant's bar, as it's where I often have interesting conversations with others eating there. They are usually locals, and I learn something new from them.

Bottom line

A business trip is never going to be a vacation. But with a little bit of time and planning, you can transform another dreary road trip into something that feels a little less robotic.

At the end of the day, all you have to do is just shift your mindset slightly and do a little research before heading out. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Featured photo by (Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
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  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 points
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  • Annual Fee

    $125
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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

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  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
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Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees