Travel Hacks

In Praise of Bleisure: How to Have Fun on Business Trips

by Team Fathom
Padar Photo by Killian Pham / Unsplash.

When we asked our favorite travel experts how they balance work and travel, we got so many great answers that we turned it into a three-part series covering how to stay productive, how to stay healthy, and, in this article, how to mix work and play.

Get to travel often for work? Amazing.

End up spending most of your free time in a hotel room? Not so amazing.

It's hard to get a good taste for a place in between board meetings (those mountains sure look pretty from this conference room...), but it's not impossible. We asked the frequent flying pros for their best recommendations for adding fun and me time to your business trip.

It can be done. The bleisure trend is real, people.

Looking out the window of a car or train — rather than down at my phone — is the new rule. It’s amazing how much you miss when your head is down. Another rule: Walk, walk, walk. With no earphones, of course! – Emily FitzRoy, founder, Bellini Travel

I always pack workout clothes and sneakers so I can go running on trips. This keeps me fit in body and fit in mind and allows me to cover a lot of a city in limited time. Getting on-the-ground knowledge is key to understanding an area and getting away from the tourist spots. – Jimmy Carroll, co-founder, Pelorus

I always trust my contacts on location to tell me about the newest, latest, and greatest. I ask them to arrange a private driver and guide so I can have a stress-free experience. – Eric Monkaba, founder, Tripscaper

When you travel for work, you may not always have time to see sights, but you always have time to eat. I challenge myself to find healthy eateries in every city I visit and encourage my team to do the same. Venturing to these restaurants helps me see a whole new side of a destination and explore new neighborhoods, too. – Tara Foley, founder, Follain

Aimlessly walking. Taking a slow walk without a destination gives me an opportunity to really see what’s going on. I’ll look closely at people and architectural details and take lots of photos with my iPhone. I’ll walk into as many neighborhood shops, bars, restaurants as possible. – Mitchell Hochberg, President, Lightstone

Before going to a place, I’ll reach out to a friend or someone in the know to ask how taxis and public transportation work and which are the best coffee shops to get a feel for the local vibe. That way I don’t feel like a total tourist, which makes exploring so much easier. – Rhiannon Taylor, photographer and founder, In Bed With

Beyond the organized work itinerary, I like to wake up a few hours before I have to start my day to have one-on-one time with the destination and delve into the places and sights that tap into my personal interests. – Sofia Mascotena, co-founder, Naya Traveler

I gather recommendations from friends, followers, and websites, and put them all in a saved Google Map on my phone. That way no matter where I wander, I can find the points of interest around me. For shorter trips, I prioritize a couple of must-sees, and the rest of my ideas are just bonuses. On my first trip somewhere, I'll do the touristy stuff (the obvious sites, stores, and restaurants everyone tells you to hit) and, on my second trip, wander a bit more and visit things off the beaten path. – Alyssa Coscarelli, freelance writer and consultant

Ahead of a trip, I star tons of places on Google Maps, and, if possible, plot a walking route to hit all the spots I want to see. I also chat with locals. The best way to do this is to sit at the bar and talk to the bartender or a fellow diner. Don’t feel ashamed of making conversation and asking for recommendations. – Mary Holland, freelance writer

One of my favorite things to do when I travel is go on a morning run in fresh surroundings. I ask the hotel concierge to map out a couple of routes for me beforehand so there’s no delay — just wake up and go. If it’s a completely new city, I’ll schedule a few hours with a local guide. I like to focus on social economics and politics if it’s a system very different than mine. I recently did this in New Delhi with a former NBC and BBC correspondent. It’s was a crash course that made me see the city in an entirely new perspective. – Karl Backlund, owner, Marchay

My favorite way to take in the sights is to hire a running guide and run through a city at sunrise, giving me a workout and tour at the same time while also allowing me to make a 9 a.m. breakfast meeting. – Jack Ezon, founder, Embark

More Tips on Balancing Work and Travel

We Asked the Pros: How Do I Stay Productive While Traveling?
We Asked the Pros: How Can I Stay Healthy While Traveling?