Summer is (pretty much) finally here. The sun is staying out later, the air is warmer, and it seems like every other day someone else is out of the office.
Whether you’re making a couple of pit stops en route to a client visit, saving a few extra bucks with a simple day trip or splurging on a big trip to celebrate some Q2 successes, these tips will help you maximize your vacation for the richest experience. You can apply them to a business trip, or a true vacation.
1. Plan ahead, at least a little.
I know, I know–there’s something magical about traveling, especially to a new place, and deciding you’re just going to “wing” it, or figure things out as you go along. While this can fun, it’s also an easy way to let a day slip away.
Maybe an activity you decide to do requires booking in advance, or the easiest way to get anywhere is with the city’s public transportation. The point is, you want to have some sort of idea of what you’ll be doing.
Before I take a trip, I try to talk to anyone I know who’s been where I’m going and see what suggestions they have. This allows me to learn more about my co-workers or clients and their travels (and allows us to trade stories upon my return).
I also get a general idea of what goes on in the area, and what opportunities might be available to me. People will usually offer logistical advice, too, which is super helpful in avoiding any last-minute hiccups.
2. But–be prepared to think on your feet.
Ever been to an improv show? When they’re great, they’re hilarious.
When things are going haywire–the jokes aren’t landing, people are messing up–true improvisers don’t get fazed. That’s because they, much like entrepreneurs, can think on their feet.
There’s no time like a vacation to put your improv (or problem-solving skills, if you prefer) to the test. Even if you plan things down to the T, something is going to go wrong.
That’s not always a bad thing–it opens you up to a new opportunity. Instead of getting discouraged when things don’t go as planned, let your entrepreneurial spirit shine through, and be ready to take action.
3. Eat the food.
Between jet lag and long days in the sun, it can be easy to just settle for something familiar when it’s meal time. But think about it: If you’re traveling, you likely have to eat out anyway.
You might as well take advantage of the excuse to enjoy some local fare. Apps like Google Maps and websites like The Infatuation are life savers for figuring out the best way to eat your way through the local cuisine.
If your travels are business-related, trying new foods can be a great way to bond with clients or investors.
4. Let yourself be a tourist.
Living in New York, I’ve become desensitized to Times Square. It’s loud, it’s crowded, I’ve seen it before, and I can go there whenever I want (which is pretty much never). Still, it’s fascinating to see the people who come from all over the world to take a photo in front of M&M world or visit the Hard Rock Cafe.
Cheesy to me, sure. For them, it’s magic, and that’s beautiful.
If you’re traveling somewhere with a popular or historic landmark, go see it. You’ll feel silly if you miss out just because you “didn’t want to be a tourist.” At the very least, having seen these spots means you can add something to a conversation about travel, which is everyone’s favorite topic–especially in the summer.
5. Write things down.
We’re lucky enough to live in the era of smartphones, which means that we have the power to document anything at any time. But sometimes, a quick pic on your phone isn’t the most effective way to create a tangible memory.
Bring a journal and write down what you did at the end of each day. Having a written memory of your trip, in your own words, is a lot more special.
You can talk about the high points, the low points and the little details. A photo of you smiling at the museum is nice, but it doesn’t tell the whole story of your experience. Those details are what you will want to look back on and remember, and who knows–revisiting them in the future may spark an idea or two.