When possible, even on business trips, I try to avoid hotels and stay with a member of one of my homestay networks. I find the genuine contact and family atmosphere a welcome change from conference hotels. Yes, there's some transportation logistics, but generally, I find it worth the schlep across town to make new friends and get my batteries recharged.
You’ll learn a lot about yourself and how to become independent. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. Traveling solo taught me how to fend for myself, talk to people, and handle unfamiliar situations with ease. It’s made me comfortable with myself, helped me learn about what I’m capable of, and allowed me to be super selfish and do whatever I want! It can take some getting used to if you’ve never done it before but do it at least once. Make yourself uncomfortable and surprise yourself. You’ll learn valuable life skills when you push yourself!
Furthermore, if you're in a higher-risk situation—if, say, your medical insurance doesn't cover you abroad or you're heading to the Caribbean during hurricane season—travel insurance might be a smart purchase. Otherwise, maybe you're better off pocketing the extra hundred dollars or so and taking your chances on the road. To learn more, read Travel Insurance 101: What to Know Before You Buy.
Be a regular, not just another, guest. Too often, business travelers play the "points" game to get the perks at all properties or the points for family vacations. I've changed that approach and become "property" loyal as a regular. What do I get out of that? I get the best in house upgrade all the time, at the same rate of a regular room, VIP Lounge access, and free Internet all the time. I even get rooms when the hotel is sold out, at my regular rate. At other properties, the hotel GM has me treated like a VIP.
If your business travels become frequent, it may be best to have a travel agent that you trust on call. Doing this allows you and your team to focus more on the activities instead of worrying about transportation and accommodation. They would also be able to give you deals that you would not normally find. However, not all travel agencies are equal. Want to find out how four secrets to picking the right travel agent? Read this article.
5. Consider a cycling event. Start by choosing an enticing ride and let that inspire your trip planning. On any given weekend, you’ll find dozens of cycling events throughout California. Want to tackle a century (100 miles) in wine country? Attend a mountain biking clinic? Check the event calendars on SoCalCycling.com, Raceplace.com, Active.com, or TourOfCalifornia.bikefor ideas.
Get out of your comfort zone and make an effort to meet local people. This is easier said than done, especially if you're traveling with friends or a partner, but it will dramatically affect your travel experience. So many of us go to the all-inclusive resorts or backpacker hostels and never get a real taste for local culture, food, or traditions, and then come home and talk about what the "country" is like. Stretch your comfort zone, push your social boundaries, and travel deeper.
You don’t want to offend anyone while you travel, so make sure you’re aware of any offensive gestures or behaviour before you arrive. As an example, in Thailand, women shouldn’t touch monks or hand them anything, you shouldn’t touch the local’s heads, say anything bad about the royal family, use your right hand for passing people things and paying, or point your feet at someone… Do your research!
All these tips are great, but I truly appreciate the perspective about Sunrise is better than Sunset. I know I am probably in the minority here, but the freshness of morning is a rebirth for me. And a dazzling sunrise does more for lifting my spirits than almost anything else. Whatever problems I had yesterday, now, with this new sunrise, I have a chance at a fresh start. (Don’t get me wrong…I love a romantic sunset too!)