TRAVEL - 5 tips to successfully bleisure with a kid
Updated: Jul 19, 2019
or my very first bleisure trip with a kid (ahem with MY kid!)
For the better part of the past 3 years, I have been teaching people - employees and employers - about bleisure, the combination of business and leisure travel. You know, the subtle art of adding a tiny bit of fun during a business trip?
Goals for bleisure include avoiding the exhaustion of intense work travel schedule, making business travel a bit more rewarding and capturing a bit more of the essence of what we thought were soulless cities where we travel to for work. You may bleisure on your next super busy business trip by discovering a local dish over lunch, going for a walk to explore your surroundings before your morning meetings or even taking a day off to discover your destination. And honestly it's not just a trend, everyone does it as over 60% of business trips in the US have a bleisure component.
Two weeks ago, I was invited to participate in the Women In Travel Summit, in Portland, ME for the second time. I love that conference as it brings the women from my industry together and I learn so much every time I attend. As some of you know, I recently had a baby who then had just turned 4 months old. Portland, an affordable city that is only a two hour drive from Boston that I never had a chance to explore, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to wander out of Boston with my little family while attending a really insightful work event. And here is what I learned:
1. Pitch your boss
If it is widely common to bring a spouse during a business trip and save on the hotel room, several studies show company executives are not opposed to business travelers bringing the whole family if rules are reviewed ahead of time. Typically this means agreeing ahead of time on who will pay for what. The more specific the better so there is no surprise on either side. This includes but is not limited to: meals, room service, parking, airfare. Be upfront and have that conversation before leaving on a family adventure. I mean bleisure trip, I mean you know... And if your boss still needs convincing, well the facts are in your favor. Did you know that allowing employees to bleisure leads them to take much shorter vacation, hence reducing the overall amount of time they are out of office at the time?
For more tips on how to convince your boss that bleisure is the way to go, check out this article.
2. Plan your conference ahead
Whether it's a conference or series of meetings, make sure you got the schedule cleaned up before shipping out the tribe. When I travel by myself to a conference, I usually figure out my itinerary on the day of (or the night prior). I leave a lot of room for networking and meeting exhibitors as well as other attendees. In this first family bleisure adventure, I took my husband and 4-month old to a new place. While I am here for work, I want to spend some quality time with them - even though it is not going to be the whole weekend. In our case, we were lucky to be able to stay at the hotel where the conference was taking place so I was able to use the breaks between sessions to go and meet with them for a quick snuggle (or also to go pump back in the room #nursingmom). I recommend to communicate with your co-parent what your day will be looking like ahead of time and set clear boundaries with your family. What are your goals for the weekend? Don't lose sight of them.
3. Hunt down a bleisure-friendly hotel
Your family came on an adventure with you and while you have to work, they ARE on vacation. Make sure you pick a place where there is plenty to do, whether because of its location (e.g. we were downtown Portland with easy access to many attractions) or because of its amenities (e.g. is there a pool for your kids? a spa for your spouse? etc.). Wanna make sure they never want to bleisure with you ever again? Leave them in their room for the day.
4. Be thankful to your spouse/partner/co-parent
While your little ones are a lot of joy, they also are a LOT of work. If your co-parent had stayed home, he/she would have had access to its environment, network of helpers and dare I say, might have been more rested. While this bleisure family adventure can be a lot of fun, it can also be a lot on your partner's shoulders. Be thankful and cognizant of their effort. How about a little souvenir to show how thankful you are?
Stop feeling guilty! You should actually be proud; you are able to do it all. Your work, your family, discovering a new place. Congratulations and now enjoy a little. Still wondering if bleisuring as a family is a real thing? Well according to a survey, 55% of bleisure travelers bring family members with them and 29% said they have not yet but are planning on it. Do embrace the trip. Using the app I co-developed, I am proud to say we quickly identified what we wanted to see in Portland and where to eat. We ended up discovering the Portland Headlight, took a nice long walk by the sea and ate in the best lobster shack with an insanely beautiful view. #success
Overall the dynamic of the trip definitely changed as I typically am more of a solo traveler when it comes to business but once I embraced it, I loved it. Have you ever bleisured with your family? How did it go?