Unless you’ve been living under a rock or traveling via wagon, you know that bleisure travel is on the rise.
While travel of the business-leisure variety always gets chalked up to the increase in millennial travelers (afterall, 48% of bleisure travelers are between the ages of 22 and 35), there are some other illuminating factors as well. One of these is the fact that the average cost of airline tickets has decreased over the past three years, leading to more flights overall. Also, companies have taken notice that if they allow travelers to extend their trip by a couple days, the savings on airfare can be enormous.
If you’ve been wanting to take a bleisure trip, but aren’t quite sure how to broach the subject, then read on. I’ll tell you what to say to your boss and how to say it.
Is bleisure mentioned in your corporate travel policy?
First thing’s first. Before you try to plan your bleisure trip, you need to know where your company travel policy stands. Here’s what we typically see:
- Bleisure travel, or extending travel for personal reasons, isn’t mentioned at all
- Bleisure travel is not allowed
- Bleisure travel is part of the company policy within specific guidelines (rare)
Most likely, your company travel policy doesn’t provide guidelines on bleisure, so it’s up to you to figure it out.
If your company travel policy says it is not allowed, then your bleisure trip has ended before it’s even begun. You can attempt to figure out why it’s not allowed, but I wouldn’t suggest diving into trip itineraries any time soon.
If your company doesn’t have an official stance on it, then it’s time to make a clear, professional request for your trip and spearhead bleisure travel for yourself and your colleagues.
Why it’s okay to ask your boss about extending your business trip
Unless your company has a very clear policy against bleisure, it’s absolutely okay to ask your boss about extending your business trip.
- Business travel is exhausting and often bleeds into weekend "off-hours" with Friday returns or Sunday take offs. If taking an extra couple relaxation days will recharge you and make you a stronger asset upon return, your boss will understand.
- Bleisure travel is growing and will only continue to grow. Most companies want to be known as a great place to work and want to keep their employees happy.
- By extending your trip and covering your own costs on the additional days, you might even save your company money on airfare
“With the increasing globalization of business and technology, the once-discrete line between business and leisure travel will blur further. There is no longer a reason for the business traveler to have to sacrifice leisure in order to be successful in their profession.”Marvin Lee, Asiana Airlines
How to pitch a bleisure trip to your boss
So, how can you get your boss on board? The first step is to have a clear reason for the trip extension.
Have a reason
You know your boss better than I do, so use your best judgement when providing a reason for a bleisure trip. Overall, corporations tend to favor employee convenience, while SMEs tend to choose price over anything else. Choose what fits you and your company best:
- You have a long flight overseas (say 10, 15 or even 24 hours), but the time you’ll spend doing business on the ground is only a day or two. You’d like to extend your trip to make the travel experience less exhausting and make the most of it.
- You’re going to a city that you want to explore, and you have some vacation time that you would like to use.
- Your wedding anniversary falls during the business trip, and you’d like to bring your spouse with you and enjoy an extra couple of days in the city or surrounding areas.
- If you stay three extra days, the airfare cost for the company will be $400 less, so you might as well stay and enjoy a long weekend.
Those are examples to get you started. Unless your company is known to be bleisure-friendly, it’s very important to backup your request with a good reason.
Work out the specifics
It’s your responsibility to cover all of the details. Everyone is busy. Don’t give your boss extra work. And if your company has a travel manager, that person will appreciate that you’ve taken steps to make the trip planning smooth.
Here are some factors to consider:
- Transportation - Ask your boss to cover the departure and arrival flights only if the cost is very close to (or preferrably lower) than it would be if you didn’t extend the trip. Make it clear you’ll cover ground transportation during your off time.
- Lodging - Book lodging separately for the additional days. While this means you’ll have to switch hotels, it will reduce friction and confusion about cost-splitting. Long term, you might be able to work out other arrangements, but to bring bleisure to your company for the first time, keep all invoices separate.
- Food - Use your daily allowance or per diem during your business days, and cover your own costs during your vacation days. For reimbursement purposes, your boss will appreciate if you separate the work and leisure days rather than work half days.
Don’t just ask an open ended question about a bleisure trip. Instead, come prepared with a plan that your boss can’t say no to.
Do’s and don'ts for requesting a bleisure extension
If you’re the one forging ahead with bleisure at your company, then it’s up to you to not ruin it for yourself and your colleagues. Give bleisure a good name.
Don’t mix days
As mentioned in the “food” section above, don’t mix days. For companies not accustomed to allowing bleisure travel, it’s better if you split up the business days and vacation days. That way you know when to use your daily allowance and when to pay for yourself. (And your boss knows too.)
Don’t confuse your colleagues
Make it clear what days you are working and what days you are not. If you say, “I’m going to Singapore for 10 days” and they know you have a client meeting the second day, they won’t know you are unavailable the last few days. Instead say, “I’m going to Singapore on business from April 1st to April 5th and then I’ll be taking time off from April 5th to April 10th.”
Do enjoy your business trip even if it’s not technically “bleisure”
If you have enough work to keep you busy during business hours, then your company should pay for the whole trip, and you’re free to enjoy yourself in the evenings. Maybe you don’t even need to do an extended bleisure trip. Maybe all you need is a fun night out.
Do present bleisure as a positive
If something great happened during your vacation time (like you met an investor or a new client at a bar), be sure to share that.
When you come back from your trip, up-play the business part and down-play the leisure part. If you come back and only talk about snorkeling, you might foster distrust around bleisure. Better to focus on the fact that the business objectives of the trip were met (side note: you had a great time).
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