Have you already eaten into your holiday allocation for 2024? There’s no need to make the year one of all work and no play because, with careful planning, you can make work travel tick both boxes. This is according to Bonnie Smith, GM of Corporate Travel, who says that even your boss will likely be happy with the compromise of adding bleisure travel into your itinerary.
“Employees who combine leisure travel with their business trips report a better work-life balance. This helps fight burnout and increases productivity, which can only mean good things for your business,” says Smith.
Smith has three strategies for making the most of business travel for 2024 – with experiences and downtime pencilled into your calendar.
Harness the power of public holidays
Make last-minute planning a thing of the past by hacking your calendar to plan business travel around public holidays strategically. With 12 public holidays in 2024, careful planning around long weekends provides ample opportunity to stretch your time off further.
Easter week in April lends itself to optimisation – take leave from March 28th to April 3rd for a seven-day holiday. Tack on April 29th to May 3rd for a leisurely nine-day getaway. September’s Heritage Day long weekend also allows a five-day holiday by taking the Monday off. But the jackpot comes in December 2024 with four consecutive public holidays falling over 16 days, allowing for a prolonged holiday cheer. So be proactive, mark your calendar, and maximise your time off.
Combine work and sports at Europe’s best events
Why settle for another routine work trip when you can also enjoy a dash of sporting excitement? Picture yourself in Europe during the summer, perhaps conducting business in August – the perfect timing to witness the Paris Summer Olympics and cheer on Team SA. And if you find yourself in France in mid-August, gear up to cheer on the world’s top female cyclists as they race through the scenic French countryside during the Tour de France Femmes.
Or, if your work brings you to Germany in June or July, make sure to catch the action-packed Euro Cup Football tournament. For those with a penchant for high-speed thrills, mark your calendar for the Monaco Grand Prix in May.
Make your African business trip an African adventure
Smith says that FCM Consulting’s Q4 2023 Business Travel Trends Report highlighted top African business travel destinations for South Africans. When you’re on a business trip in Africa, it’s a great chance to add some African adventure to the mix. Take Botswana, for example; it’s a top choice for business travellers, and checking out the Khutse Game Reserve, just a little over 200 kilometres from Gaborone, is a no-brainer, even if you can’t swing a visit to the Okavango Delta.
Now, if your work takes you to Harare, Zimbabwe, remember to take a breather from those meetings and catch the stunning Victoria Falls. Last, if Mali’s on your radar, you can up your UNESCO World Heritage Sites count by visiting the City of Djenne.
Smith has some tips to make it happen, too. “One way corporate travellers maximise bleisure is by swapping a business class ticket for two economy ones so their partner can join them,” she says. To ensure you stay on the right side of your company’s travel policy, she says discuss extra expenses upfront, carefully track expenses, and only submit business costs for reimbursement.