Your boss just handed down the fateful news: You’re going on a business trip. Now, you could embark on an ordinary trip, where the biggest highlight is Bob from accounting’s epic sneeze during the E-staff presentation. Or, you can seize the opportunity to inject some fun, spontaneity, or even personal discovery into your time on the road. Here are a few pointers to help you make the make the most of your work trip.  

  1. Take an extra day… or two… or three

Tacking on some extra time to a business trip for relaxation or exploration (regrettably referred to as “bleisure” travel) is a common trend amongst business travelers. A lot of people say it helps lessen the stress (and jet lag) caused by business travel, and allows them to make their trip more memorable. Since you’re already traveling for work, “bleisure” travel is a great way to take a vacation more cheaply than you’d be able to otherwise. Many business travelers have their families join them as well.

2. Stay where you play

Lots of travelers value convenience and choose to stay in accommodations close to the office or convention center they’re visiting. But much of the time, this means staying in commercial areas that lack character, aren’t particularly walkable, and may have restaurants that close early when the “work crowd” leaves. If you want to create the feeling of a vacation, it’s worth a little longer commute to stay in a trendy or colorful neighborhood. Chances are you’ll uncover cool shops and restaurants as you make your way to and from work.

3. Get recommendations from locals

There are plenty of sites that aggregate ratings and recommendations from tourists and others, but nothing compares to a personal suggestion from someone who knows the area. When staying at an Airbnb, you may never actually meet your host, but they’ll likely include some neighborhood spots to try in the house manual. You can also message your host at any time through the Airbnb app to ask for recommendations based on your interests. And don’t forget about your coworkers: Asking about favorite restaurants and bars is a great conversation starter and can help you feel more at home in your new work environment.

4. Embrace the alone time

Loneliness is one of the most commonly cited downsides of business travel. But there’s power in a small shift in perspective. When else do you get to do whatever you want without the distractions of daily life? Go out to eat by yourself… go bowling by yourself. Being alone in a new city is like being given “carte blanche” to do things you might not normally do at home.

5. Don’t forget your camera

Just because you’re traveling for work, it doesn’t mean your Instagram feed has to suffer. In fact, your commute likely coincides with prime photo time. Two of the best times to take photos are very early in the morning and at dusk. Capture the city with the soft, warm light of dawn and the vibrant hues of sunset. If you have a day off, get out and explore. You can even get a lightweight tripod that fits in a purse or backpack.

6. Experience all you can

What’s a vacation, really? It’s memories. Use your downtime to immerse yourself in what the city has to offer. Headed to NYC? See what’s playing in a downtown blackbox theatre. Try surfing in SoCal, or hit up the BBQ joints in Memphis. In select cities, Airbnb also offers experiences designed and led by local experts, with activities ranging from urban gardening to fire dancing to wine tasting.

With the right planning and mindset, business travel can turn from something you have to do into something you get to do.