When it comes to traveling for business, I have two primary objectives: 1) Bring my A game for business, and 2) Find time to explore the city/country I’m in. To me, these are equally important. Even if I only have a few hours between business and the airport, I always try to find time to explore.
Why? I think this stems from my one regret I had during my year-long tour in Up With People (Cast D90 Rocks!)…
We were in our 2nd month of touring and we were performing all aross northern Italy. One afternoon in this delightful country, we gather and the cast director announced, “We just scheduled a side trip to Rome. The train leaves in 3 hours, we wont sleep much, we’ll soak in Rome for a day, and return 29 hours later…it will cost you $100. Who wants to come?”
At the time, as a 4th year college student, my instant reaction was, “$100? No way…that’s two months of utilities once I get home”.
That was 22 years ago, and I’ve never been to Rome. If I want to go now, it’ll cost a good $5000. Imagine if I could have gone back in time to whisper, “Idiot, do it now, or the next time will cost 50x more”.
Ever since, I take time to explore a city, experience the culture, even sign up for a local adventure…I may never get the chance again.
For me, here’s what I’ve learned:
Sleep When You’re Home
You may only get one chance to see that New York jazz club (The Iridium…Monday nights…get a front table and order the bread pudding), or wander through Budapest. Don’t miss out because you’re tired.Yes, you have to bring your A game for business, but you’d be surprised how energizing a walk across the Danube or hot spiced red wine outside the Louvre can be.
Explore To Purge Jetlag
When I went to Sydney, I arrived at my hotel at 8:30am after a 23 hour journey. Instead of trying to rest, I walked. All day. Until 4pm. I saw amazing things, and by 8pm, I had no problems getting to sleep and slept 12 hours!
Spend Your Own Money
I’ll never forget my NYC helicopter ride, my Eiffel tower elevator ride, nor my South African safari ride. Yes, they cost me money, but dang, were they worth it!
Get Out of the Hotel District
Many cities cater to travelers around the hotels. I hate that. I want to explore the city as the locals live it. I find a city map and make a bee-line for a local market (like Bangkok, Prague, Trieste, Singapore’s ‘little India’…) and see what the locals sell, but especially…buy and eat! (Just be careful about eating everything they do…you may not live to tell of your adventure 🙂 )
There ya go. Don’t regret missing out on an experience…it’s just outside your hotel door.
Question: How do you sneak away from work to explore your travel destination?