Everyone needs the chance to pause and step away from the toils of our trade—we cannot spend all of our time solely creating amazing meetings and events tailored to impress attendees. Whether it is a getaway to new territory or a daytrip to a familiar destination, vacations are crucial to revitalizing mind, body, and spirit. Relaxation time can also be a fun source of new ideas to motivate you and your team once you return to the office.
It is easy enough to book travel plans for yourself and the family thanks to apps and websites that package lodging and travel accommodations together. There are even virtual assistant apps, such as Lola, Hello Hipmunk, and Google Trips, that do the heavy lifting and automatically figure out when it is best to travel to particular destinations and put together itineraries for you. Before you rush out the door with sunscreen and sandals in hand, consider these tweaks to your trip that may put a different perspective on your holiday.
Stay at a Bed and Breakfast
Luxury hotels naturally can pamper guests with 1,800-thread-count Egyptian cotton bedsheets, spas, and multiple cocktail lounges on the premises. Booking a bed and breakfast, on the other hand, puts you in a personal, cozy setting. The accommodations often feel like staying with a family member or close friend, with comfy quilts on the bed and homemade recipes on the menu at mealtime.
A stay at a bed and breakfast also gives you the chance to chat up the owner about the area. Having the insights of someone who is deeply rooted in a community opens up knowledge that will not be in any travel brochure. Locals can steer you to the best spots for handmade pralines or a secret place that serves a legendary steak dinner. There are plenty of obvious destinations geared for tourists, which can be fine establishments. Learning where locals love to spend time, however, creates opportunities for you to discover fresh event planning ideas.
When you provide attendees at an event with uncommon tidbits of information about the city they will travel to, it adds deeper interest in making the trip. They will look for nearby places to grab a bite to eat and arrange meetings with attendees they met during networking sessions. There might even be opportunities for you to book after-parties at local favorite spots that leave lasting impressions with attendees. Finding this information is a lot easier if you get to know the destination from a local’s vantage point.
Take a Walking Tour
There simply is not enough time to visit each point of interest in the area when you are on vacay. Frankly, you should not even try. Overloading an itinerary with plans actually cuts down on the most vital part of the journey—unwinding. Taking photos to share on Facebook and Instagram has become part of many vacations, but there is a downside to rushing around to “capture the moment” at famous places. It becomes all too easy to miss out on enjoying the moment. Dial down the frenetic pace and block out plenty of time to savor the experience. A great way to do that is to book a walking tour with a guide who can lead you through parts of the city or town.
It is a natural way to get out and appreciate the area on foot rather than cruising by in a shuttle van or car. How many times have you spotted shops, historic sites, or stunning views along the way from the airport that you swore you wanted to visit but never got around to seeing? By going on a tour, you give yourself more chances to explore those locations. At the very least, a tour can show you how to find these spots for yourself later on.
A walking tour is not just about wandering around to find fascinating sites; a good tour guide can feed you rarely heard perspectives on local history. Rumors and whispers from bygone years still linger in many towns, and while gossip should not be taken as fact it can add flavor to stories you think you know.
Pay attention to what the guide shares with you and ask questions about anything that catches your interest. Tour guides often want to present you with as many details that hold your attention. Questions also make the tour more engaging for the entire group because it gives you all something to talk about.
After the tour, keep track of the footnotes on history that you heard. Chances are, any town where you book events will have its own hidden past you can uncover—if you learn to ask the right questions. Once you gather appropriate highlights about the town, you can share them on invites to the meetings you plan. Attendees tend to be so focused on their objectives at an event, they do not have time to explore the city for themselves. If you borrow a few lessons from tour guides, you can give eventgoers more incentives to show up early and stick around the city once the formal sessions are over.
Have a Late or Early Lunch at a Bistro or Café
By now, you have probably caught on to the theme enjoying your vacation destination at a relaxed pace that allows for conversation with locals. Getting a bite to eat is another opportunity to do just that. If you have the chance, find a place to enjoy a meal just off peak dining hours. Service will likely be at its best when the tables are not crowded and the wait staff will be more relaxed.
When things are not that busy, you can do more than ask questions about the menu. Tap the staff’s knowledge about the neighborhood and places they like to visit. If you are enjoying mimosas and eggs benedict at brunch, ask what you should check out later in the day. These kinds of conversations are much easier to have well away from the dinner rush or happy hour, when servers must concentrate on getting orders out to tables.
The idea again is to casually inform yourself about your vacation destination without compromising your free time. It can seem daunting to try and become an expert about an entire city, for personal or business purposes. Instead, take a step back, slow down, and digest smaller morsels rather than attempt to devour all the knowledge in one go. That will make for a much more enjoyable vacation, and give you more motivation when you return to work.
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