You have a full time job with limited vacation days. Time is of the essence – but so is enjoying your trip. Cramming a bunch of activities in a short time is great – if you enjoy that. The key is to maximize your free time – in a way that fits your travel style.
If you’ve been doing this for a while, chances are you have your own way already. Still, it’s good to review our habits once in a while to remind ourselves “oh yeah, this is why I’m doing it this way,” and “OK, I see why she’s doing it that way, but here’s why it’s not for me.”
For example, my friend Christine writes about “How to see the World in a Weekend,” as she has done for years. Sadly, I’m a slow jet lag recoverer (I’ve tried many remedies, believe me), so I need more time on the ground to justify the misery.
With that in mind, here are 3 things I do – and 3 things I don’t do. Again, this isn’t to judge anyone else’s ways, I’m just sharing what works for me and why.
My Do #1 – Schedule an easy first day back to work
If possible, don’t schedule anything stressful on your first day back to work. This allows you to stay as long as possible on the trip. I often get back around midnight jet lagged, get no sleep, need to be at work next morning, and by 4pm it’s been almost 24 hours since I got any sleep. Having an easy day helps. I try to be caught up with email in the lounge or elsewhere on the trip – as long as it doesn’t interfere much with the trip.
My Do #2 – Take a red eye
I hate red eyes in economy, but I take a few every year because it gives me half a day (sometimes a full day) more on the trip. I land in the morning and go directly to work. Having an easy day (see above) helps. Of course red eyes on a flat bed is much easier.
My Do #3 – Go somewhere nearby for the weekend
For a while, if I missed Singaporean food (which happens a lot), my first instinct would be to… book a flight to Singapore! OK, that wasn’t the only reason I booked the flight, but you get the point. Thanks to the Ann Arbor DO, I now have an option for Singaporean food 4 hours away. Ann Arbor is no Singapore, but it’s a nice area that gets the job done for a weekend. Obviously this isn’t to discourage going to faraway places, but sometimes we forget the good stuff up the road. In general, I’m a big fan of domestic US travel, from the road trip experience to some of the best scenery in the world.
My Don’t #1 – Don’t work on a trip
Generally, I don’t mix work and personal travel beyond mandatory emails. I also don’t do any MS, travel planning (except for the trip I’m on), etc. I like being 100% dedicated to the trip.
My Don’t #2 – No short stopovers
On my first big award trip, I had multiple stopovers around 10 hours each, before reaching the destination. I went into the cities for the day, jet lagged and tired. Not for me. If it works for you though, great.
That’s not to say I never do it, and it’s a lot better when jet lag is not involved. But it’s not something I use a lot.
My Don’t #3 – No one-night hotel stays
This is one of those “do it for status/packed schedule but not with your family” things in the hobby. I’m not a fan of constantly checking in and out of hotels, so I like to have 2+ nights in any given place. However, I will allow it for a positioning/returning flight.
What are your Dos and Don’ts for maximizing your limited time off?