I’ve been a fan of bleisure (mixing business and
leisure on the same trip) travel for years. Seems like the rest of the world is
catching onto this excellent concept in 2019! My bleisure trips are usually
built around a writing conference. Though I don’t pick a conference exclusively
for the location or accommodations, I definitely take that in consideration.
For example, this year instead of choosing a January conference in Seattle, I registered
for a February one in Phoenix. That was a no-brainer!
How do you come up with a vacation that’s the perfect
balance of work and play? I can share a few tips that have worked for me.
Attend the conference at the beginning of your trip
Get the business part out of the way first. Then you
can unplug, pursue adventures, and relax. This strategy allows me to either meet
my husband for the leisure part or to visit with friends and family in the area
once the conference is over. The other not-so-obvious benefit of conferencing in
the beginning of your getaway is that it gives you the chance to talk to other attendees,
who might be more familiar with the city, state, or country you’re in. They
often have ideas about restaurants, attractions, or lodging that you might not
find in a travel book, hangouts or hot spots that are off-the -beaten path and
patronized by locals, rather than tourists.
Research before you go
The first thing I do after registering for the
conference is create a folder, labeled with the destination’s name. Once I have
that concrete reminder that I’m going someplace interesting, all sorts of ideas
about what to do there begin to materialize. Almost magically! Then I mention to
anyone I cross paths with that I’m going there. It’s quite amazing how many
people will have suggestions that you never thought of. Of course, occasionally
you are the first one of your colleagues or personal circles to visit there. In
that case, Google is your friend! A rule of thumb I often use is to look at
several travel sites. If the attraction is mentioned on all of them and sounds
unusual or interesting enough, I add it to the list. In Wakulla Springs (FLA),
following a Tampa conference, this is how I discovered the quirky Lodge at Wakulla
Springs in the Edward Ball State Park; a place I wouldn’t have missed for the
Plan some things, but leave room for spontaneity
If there is an activity you really want to do, find
out ahead of time if you need to purchase tickets for it. Same goes for making
reservations at any restaurants or hotels you’d rather not miss out on. In
Washington DC, at the EWA conference, I made sure to set aside a whole day for
the Newsuem and was very glad I did.
Most conferences are tightly-scheduled-between workshops,
meals, and other happenings. Once you hit the leisure part of the week, it can
feel good to have less structure in your days. To be able to meander around and
see what you find. For me, this has been a particularly good strategy for finding
memorable food and drink. Sometimes, as in Hawaii, the biggest dives or worst
looking locations have the tastiest, most interesting, food and best service!
Let your travel companion choose a few things to do
Your travel buddy may pick something that you wouldn’t
have thought of or that you might not have been attracted to on your own. In Rhode
Island, Tammy took us kite flying at Brenton State Park, along Ocean Drive, and
it was one of the best memories of our trip. In Elkhart, Indiana, my husband
wanted to see the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum, not something high on my list.
It was fascinating!
Keep records of your bleisure vacation
Though you are sure you will never forget the details of your wonderful bleisure vacation, you will! I have a separate journal dedicated to travel observations. impressions, and memories. Additionally, I save all my receipts and collect brochures and other materials from places I visit. Another good resource to bring home is local newspapers or travel guides. All of these can be extremely helpful in planning future trips to the same area, creating travel blog posts, and for writing travel articles.