Traveling for work can sometimes be the worst of both worlds—the hassle of travel without the fun of exploring a new city because you just don’t have time. We want to save you from frantically Yelp-ing every restaurant within three blocks at 10 p.m. because you forgot that they don’t have Uber Eats everywhere until you were already at your hotel. In fact, we want to do you one better. We want you to go home feeling like you actually saw the city you spent a few days in, and maybe even met someone who wasn’t your Lyft driver.
It can seem impossible to get a handle on a city and maximize your time without burning yourself out, but if you stick to a few simple guidelines, you can make the most of your time in a way that works for you. We’re going to talk through some tips for seeing the most of a city while you’re traveling for work, and then we’ll look at a couple of cities that are popular for business travel and apply those tips.
1. Identify What Kind of Work Traveler You Are and Customize Your Itinerary
Are you a read-a book-at-the-bar type? Do you love going out to eat alone, or would you rather rally your coworkers and hit the town? Do you want to browse shops, or does that wear you out after a nine-to-five day? When you’re traveling for work, you don’t have a ton of free time on your hands, so be picky: choose the things that sound best to you.
Conde Nast recommends extending your weekday trip into a long weekend if your schedule allows. You’ll be able to explore more that way, and—if you’re traveling solo—you won’t have to appease anybody’s itinerary but your own. Work travel is probably one of the only times you get to explore a new city completely on your own, so take advantage of it and treat yourself. (And hey…expense it!)
2. Pick Activities That Are Restful
If you were at home, you’d probably be resting in the evenings, watching TV, or sharing a meal with friends. You can find things to do that are equally restful but get you out into the city. You could try out a yoga or exercise class that you might not be able to find at home, browse local bookstores, find a park or the city’s botanical garden, or visit a spa or salon.
Business travel can be exhausting, so now is not the time to try to force yourself into being the kind of traveler you’re not. Save exiting your comfort zone for vacation, and instead, plan an itinerary around things that make you happy.
3. Pick a Few Areas of the City You Want to See and Stay Put
If you ask friends for recommendations, people will give you their favorite restaurant, a cute store, or an atmosphere-y bar, which is great. But those recommendations are random and can leave you zigzagging all over the city, trying to see everything and feeling exhausted at the end of it all.
Instead of picking a few standalone restaurants that look cool, do a little research and identify neighborhoods that you’d like to spend time in. Generally, cities have a few areas that are fun for travelers because they’re loaded with businesses, they’re walkable, and they have a distinct and identifiable vibe.
By focusing on spending time in a specific neighborhood, you’ll start to understand the makeup of the city, the individual building blocks that come together to build a culture. You’ll leave feeling like you’ve actually seen and understood part of the city, making the most of the limited time you might have. Now, let’s explore a few cities that you might find yourself in next time you travel for work…
Columbus is one of those Midwest towns experiencing a renaissance, and it’s sure to be cooler than you expect. Known for its fashion scene, craft beer, coffee, and football, there’s definitely something for everyone.
There are a few neighborhoods you can’t miss if you’re in Columbus, but you’re in luck because chances are your hotel is right next to them. The Short North is Columbus’ main drag, stretching from the Ohio State University campus to the business district and peppered with coffee shops, gourmet grilled cheese restaurants, fair trade stores, and bars in between.
If you’re there in the summer, you can relax at the Scioto Mile, a revitalized strip along the Ohio River that’s home to Bicentennial Park and beautiful views of downtown.
And if you’re a book (or sausage) lover, German Village is quaint and worth a trip. Once home to only immigrants (you could navigate the whole neighborhood in German!), you can eat an authentic German meal and then venture over to Book Loft, a winding 32-room labyrinth that holds more than a quarter million books.
A hub of the American South, Dallas can be intimidating to a business traveler. Unlike smaller, easier to navigate cities like Columbus, make one wrong move in Dallas and you’ve wasted your free time stuck in impenetrable traffic. So, what to do?
Dallas is a great place to be if you like to be outside. If you’ve lucked into good weather, visit Klyde Warren Park, a new green space above the freeway, similar to New York’s High Line. If retail therapy is your drug of choice, you’ll want to stop by NorthPark Center. Ranked as one of the best malls in the U.S., you’ll find everything you need, from Zara to Tesla. If you’re more work hard, play hard, there’s no better place to head than Deep Ellum, home to Dallas’s coolest bars, speakeasies, and music venues. If you have foodie tendencies, you’ll want to head to the Bishop Arts District.
The next time your boss tells you to attend a conference or travel across the country for a sales meeting, let us help you find the perfect hotel room. Roomkey offers hotel search without the gimmicks or runaround that other travel sites put you through. When you’re ready to book, we take you to our hotel partner’s website to secure your rate, room, and loyalty points, too. It’s the best way to book, and it’s just one of the ways we put you above everything else.