Tips on Combining Business and Vacation Travel
That business trip doesn’t have to mean yet more time away from your family. With a little planning, work travel can be an opportunity to create lasting family memories at a bargain.
I have traveled about three million miles by air, train, boat and car, and I haven’t taken my family along as often as I should. When I have, the dividends in smiles are priceless. Combining business and vacation travel allows mini-vacations with the executive’s share of the transport and hotel costs paid normally by the business. My spouse and kids get an adventure and more time with Dad. When you plan your trip, consider practicalities, destinations and friends and then add creativity.
Wherever you go with your families, the practicalities are similar. Book your travel further in advance, both to allow the family to plan and to get better advance booking rates. Let your business colleagues know that the family is coming along so that dates don’t get shifted at the last moment.
When booking my hotel room, I request two Queen beds instead of the normal single room and I attach a note indicating that my wife and two daughters are staying with me. Hilton reservations are always accommodating.
If I want to extend the trip, I plan business for Friday or Monday, and then I pay personally for extra weekend nights at discounted weekend rates. Make sure that your Hilton Honors frequent stay number is on the reservation to increase the likelihood of an upgrade. If renting a car, get a slightly larger model with space for the kids and bags.
Deciding Exactly Where to Stay
Your destination is dictated by business but be creative about exactly where you stay. I have had business in Buffalo but booked twenty minutes away at Hilton Niagara Falls/Fallsview Hotel & Suites because it put my girls in front of the waterfalls instead of beside an office building.
If you have business in New York, consider staying in midtown Manhattan at New York Hilton Midtown where the family can explore on foot. Dad can always drive a little further to get to his meeting. Check the hotel web site to be sure that there is a hotel pool and remember to pack swim wear.
Take advantage of buffet breakfasts. At one hotel, my girls enjoyed the buffet but even more touching, the Hilton host brought a toy truck over to a five year old boy and his family who were sitting at the next table. Great business hotels are also friendly with their younger guests.
Be sure to ask the hotel concierge for recommendations for great kids’ activities. At Hilton Quebec, we got directions to a Maple Sugar Shack nearby. In New York, remember that the Metropolitan Museum can fascinate boys and girls with the Egyptian exhibits and the Arms and Armor rooms.
If you are a fan of the Navy consider visiting the Intrepid. Just make sure that if Dad wants to visit New York’s Intrepid aircraft carrier, that Mom and kids visit it on Saturday with him instead of the day before when Dad is working!
Your work colleagues and clients are also a great resource. I have arranged a family tour of a printing plant to show my daughters what we manufactured. Factory tours are unusual and can entertain if kept to about an hour.
Local colleagues have helped me get four local baseball tickets so that my daughter could cheer on the Yankees. Depending on the destination, you can often get pro, semi-pro or university sports tickets to football, basketball, soccer and hockey games. Your local contacts can give you great advice on availability. The cheap seats in the bleachers can be more fun that the higher priced seats and you can spend the difference on souvenirs. Just be sure that no one wears the opposing team’s jersey (although Boston fans are friendly even when a nine year old wears a Yankees t-shirt).
Finally, remember that letting your local business friends know that the family is with you opens the door to closer relationships. They often have children of a similar age and sex. Don’t be surprised at getting local insider suggestions about where to go or at getting invitations to family barbeques. The only golden rule is to reciprocate when your colleagues or clients bring their families to your city.
What are your tips for combining business and pleasure trips? Please share with us in the comments below.
Our Hilton Mom Voyage team members live throughout the U.S. and have traveled by air and car all over the world with their families!