I'm constantly traveling for work. If you look at my calendar, you'll find more days where I'm away from New York City than I'm here at home. And while I love getting to see different parts of the world--and different parts of this country--traveling for work can sometimes feel like a chore.
That's a bad attitude to have. I'm lucky enough--as are many other entrepreneurs--to be able to get out of town and see things that some people only dream of as part of my job.
The fact that I can even complain about flight delays or jet lag is a privilege in and of itself, something I definitely have to remind myself of every now and then. So next time you're feeling wary of an upcoming work trip, try these tips I've developed over the years to make the most of it, and thus maximize your productivity, even on the go:
Say "Yes" to Everything
When I'm traveling for business, I often get invited to dinners or events at the last minute. While a business dinner may not sound like a great time to everyone, to me, these invitations serve as opportunities. What if the person with the next big idea is sitting in that restaurant, or speaking at that venue? I certainly wouldn't want to miss out on that.
So when in doubt, say "yes." If you get there and it's not your thing, you can always leave. Better to have tried it out than to have missed out.
Do Your Research
Every place in the world has something interesting to see or experience. Sure, not everywhere is going to have, say, the Louvre, but there's something everywhere. So before you head out, do some Googling and find out what your destination has to offer.
If your itinerary is pretty tight, try something simple, like a locally iconic café where you can grab a bite and get a little work done, or a specific bus or train route you can take to experience some nature between appointments. If you have more time, look into museums, shops, and historical sites.
This allows you to take advantage of downtime. Perhaps more importantly, immersion in a city's offerings makes a great conversation starter when you're in meetings or at networking events in that city.
Befriend Your Colleagues
Don't have dinner plans? Looking at a free afternoon? Ask someone you're working with what they're up to, or at the very least, what they'd recommend.
What better resource is there than someone who actually lives where you're staying? Plus, getting to know someone outside of the office allows you to better understand each other, and thus, how to work better together. That'll benefit you both in the long run.
Of course, you want to make sure to do this in an appropriate way. Respect professional boundaries, always. A simple, "Do you know of anything going on this evening?" or "What's a great dinner spot?" will suffice. If the opportunity presents itself, consider inviting them along, but don't go overboard.
Don't Pressure Yourself
Traveling does a number on the body and mind. I sometimes find myself trying to squeeze every last drop out of a work trip, and while this can make for great memories, it can also be exhausting. That hurts your productivity.
You know what you can handle. Always keep that in mind.
What does that look like? Maybe saying "yes!" to a nap, looking up a quiet place like a library, or taking a solo dinner. Pleasure looks different for everyone, and it includes self-care, so don't be afraid to prioritize yourself. Making the most of a business trip is all about finding that balance.