Vacations are getting squeezed out, either because of personal financial pressures or a fear of looking like you aren’t crucial in your cubicle. We keep cutting out the time we need for ourselves and our families, which can make the strain of recession-era employment even worse. You don’t need any more pressure … so why are you creating it? You need to get out on the road, and not just for the company. Whether it’s with family, friends or your favorite mistress, you need some time to recharge. Play it right, and you can get your company to pick up at least a piece of it.
“Blended travel” – tacking personal trips on to business travel – is becoming increasingly common. I’ve done this for most of my professional career, turning road warrior time in Paris (among many other cities) into subsidized non-solo trips. I’ve popped third cities between business destinations, met friends and flown family out to hang with me. And if I could show that it saved the company a few bucks, it would wind up doing the same for me.
With your fun money being pinched, investing some time to research your options can help you turn business travel into a great vacation. Here are five factors to keep in mind:1. The nature of your travel: How you travel and what you’re doing on the road can have a profound effect on your blended travel experience. If you work late and get stuck in meetings all the time, bringing your family isn’t going to work (unless they want to enjoy the destination without you). If you go back to the same place every week, it could constrain how much time you have available (focus on the weekends, for example). Get a sense of the rhythm of your travel schedule, and use that to determine your blended travel options.
2. Company savings: By modifying your travel plans to accommodate your personal aims (including having your family join you), could you wind up saving the company a few dollars? This may not bring the cost of the personal side of your plan down to zero, but it could take the sting out a bit. Finding a way to save the company some money can work to your advantage. I used to look at the timing of flights relative to hotel rates to pull this off. Sometimes, all you need is a relatively tolerant boss.
3. Corporate discounts: Many larger companies have employee discount programs on everything from consumer electronics to mortgages … and travel. This could help you chip away at the cost of your (partial) family vacation. Also, see if there is a way you can use your company’s negotiated rates, too.
4. Where you are (and where you can go): Not every location is worth turning into our annual getaway. I can think of plenty of business trips that I’d never use for a blended travel experience. If your spot is particularly undesirable, think about what’s in striking distance. Maybe you could set something up to meet your family at a third location.
Hint: Again, it’s a cost game. If you can show that the cost of your jaunt is less expensive than a straight shot home, you can make the case for “subsidization.”