Forbes recently asked me to share a different side of myself; my vacation habits when I travel for work. You can read the article here. Below I share additional detail about my "bleisure" travel experiences.
I've been fortunate to travel to speak to students and families about college and graduate admission. As I told Forbes, a day of vacation while on business travel is a must for me. It can be rejuvenating and provides a great memory to take home from the visit. While traveling for business, you probably won't remember what the hotels and boardrooms look like, but you'll remember a special day off you spent traveling by yourself.
For example, in China, where I went recently to give workshop presentations on college admissions, I realized that I had an extra day with not much to do - so I took a day off to travel by myself to Hong Kong. I didn't go in with a particular plan; I just took the bus from the Shenzhen customs port and had a spontaneous day of walking, going to restaurants, and shopping. It was a wonderful day and a great break from a multi-city tour I'd been on that week. That day, I enjoyed stumbling upon a local fitness center going, which was full of both people from Hong Kong and western transplants working out. I was amazed as well by the European influence and the variety and volume of French and Italian pastry shops.
When I went to Bangkok last year, I planned more thoroughly as I knew I'd have about 2.5 days after my obligations to travel around. I created a detailed itinerary of the spots I wanted to see and the things I wanted to experience (Buddhist templates and great massages, for example). Thailand is really affordable and I hired a private tour guide to take me around during one of those days. We rode on a tuk-tuk, which is like a combination of a smart car and a motorcycle - a personal highlight and it was a thrill. I also stayed at an amazing boutique hotel that was owned by a mom, dad, and son. Mom made homemade Thai breakfast every morning--some of the best food I ate in Thailand.
When I went to SF this past February, I had a day where I could do some sightseeing. On my vacation day, I went to Richmond, CA where I saw an exhibit of Rosie the Riveter -- and met real life Rosies, aged 91-97. It was a moving visit. I got to hear the stories of these wonderful war vets and saw the memory of one of my family friends honored in one of the exhibits. At night, my conference friends and I walked around San Francisco together--and made a spontaneously stop at the Full House house and the Mrs. Doubtfire house. I loved the combination of spontaneity and planned activities I had in my San Francisco trip.
In summary, travel is amazing and I've had a lot of fun doing it while doing what I love to do!