What the heck is ‘bleisure’ travel, and how can you do it?

 Bleisure: It’s the Kimye of the business travel world. The marriage of business travel with leisure time is one of travel’s biggest trends these days (and one of its most unfortunate terms).

Put simply, “bleisure” travelers take advantage of a meeting or work event in another destination, and carve out some non-working time to enjoy themselves.

Seems obvious, right? Well, it’s becoming that way. According to a 2014 survey by Skift, more and more business travelers are combining leisure time with their work trips. Six out of ten respondents reported that they have taken a “bleisure” trip. Millennial travelers are leading the charge—94 percent of travelers under the age of 35 expressed interest in taking this type of trip.

Infusing some leisure time into your work trip is pretty straightforward, but there are some key things to consider when making plans.

First of all: expense. Every company’s policy is different; some may require you to pay the difference between your desired flights and the one you’d take if the trip were 100% business. Make sure you’re familiar with your company’s reimbursement policies, hotel preferences (is Airbnb okay, or do you have to stay at a hotel partner for the work portion?), and other rules.

Next, think about how much free time you have. Nearly a third of Skift’s survey respondents said they add two vacation days to a planned business trip.

If your work trip is overseas or on the other coast, consider turning it into a full-week vacation, taking advantage of the work-sponsored airfare to dig into the area. A meeting in San Francisco can turn into a road trip down the Pacific Coast Highway, or a conference in Berlin can be vacationized by a cheap flight to Greece for some island hopping.

 If you’re traveling somewhere closer to home, save those vacay days and just tack on an extra day or two. Meeting in Miami? Rent a car and head down the Overseas Highway to Key West for a day. Headed to Washington D.C.? Spend some time in the recently re-opened Renwick Gallery to see why Washingtonians are going Instagram-nuts over the new exhibits.

If you have any say in scheduling, try plan your business at the beginning or end of the week—it’s easier to turn these trips into a long weekend.

You’re busy, though, and time is often in short supply. If you can’t take PTO, try doing “bleisure-lite.” Set your alarm earlier than usual or block off a free hour during the day to check out a local hotspot or wander through a neighborhood. You can also carve out additional time by planning your flights carefully; take the first or the last flight of the day to add more time on the ground without needing a hotel.

Another important consideration is whom, if anyone, you’ll bring along. If work’s paying for a hotel room, why not take advantage? More than half of bleisure travelers say they bring their families along—a conference at a Bahamas resort can be a great vacation for the kiddos. The lure of a free hotel can tempt independent travel buddies, too. If you’re in Austin for work, your buddy can crash and explore on his own, meeting you out on South Congress when your day is done.

Finally, weigh your interest in the destination. Not all work trips necessarily need a bleisure element. If New York stresses you out or L.A. traffic drives you mad, don’t force it. Vacation time is precious. Don’t feel obligated to use it just because you’re there.

Photo credit: Franco Folini/Flickr

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