Words by Ben Stower
Work, at times, is all-consuming, particularly when travelling for business. You're even reminded of your purpose when entering a different country and ticking the 'business' box.
It's the one right next to 'pleasure' and of course there's no allowing two boxes to be ticked.
But don't be a slave to the form. Travel is never, should never, just be about business. Pleasure comes naturally, if we open ourselves up to it, allow our minds to deviate from meetings, presentations and mergers.
It does more than give you better stories to take home. There's a deeper benefit.
A true break is only achievable by forgetting work completely (Image: Getty)
All Work, All Hate
On a usual work day you might put in eight to 10 hours, finishing around 5 or 6pm. For many, the time after is dedicated to relaxation: cooking dinner, watching TV, playing sport, working on hobbies etc.
When you're travelling for business, it's common to begin the day with a breakfast meeting followed by work until five with some breaks in between. But then you may also have a networking event on that night, which finishes late and only gives you enough time to sleep before it all starts again.
This cycle allows far less time for 'play' than you might be accustomed to at home and can be detrimental to health.
The Journal of Psychophysiology found that our blood pressure is higher when working than not working, and is often accompanied by feelings of anger and stress.
Usually we can compensate for this with time for relaxation, but if you let your travels become consumed by professional responsibilities, this time decreases significantly.
The responsibility, like at home, is still yours to ensure you're getting enough rest and pleasure in your day. And this 'pleasure' need not be as involved as many people think.
Working in the park is still working (Image: Getty)
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Pleasure In All Forms
Although you can go as far as extending your stay and enjoying a short holiday, mixing business with pleasure doesn't require so much time.
Pleasure arises from stepping away from routine and immersing yourself in local culture and sights. This can be as simple as skipping the hotel breakfast buffet for an al fresco meal at a local cafe, or as grand as taking an entire day to tour the city's landmarks.
What's critical is that these activities have a clear separation from work.
If you're travelling with a colleague, it's probably best to include them in your plans (build the inter-office relationship etc.). However, attending a theatre show with clients does not mix enough pleasure in with business.
Your mind is too focused on the latter – concerned about their enjoyment to provide any of your own. And while you may not realise it immediately, every time you fail to appropriately combine the two, you are missing out on valuable personal growth.
A buffet breakfast can't match this view (Image: Getty)
Enriching Over Easy
Of course you can always revert to watching television in your hotel room for pleasure, but is this really the most beneficial activity?
Travel is not just a leisure pursuit. Anyone who has explored beyond their birth city can attest to the growth and learning that comes with the sights, exotic food and new languages.
If we embark on a business trip and spend the entire time going from our hotel to the office and back to the room, we will return home with little insight, still as ignorant as when we left.
Embracing the city and immersing ourselves in the local traditions and people increases the likelihood of learning and developing. These life experiences are valuable assets in both our professional careers and general personal development.
This alone is reason enough for mixing business with pleasure.