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How Bleisure Travel Changed My Summer Vacation Plans for the Better

Grace Lower | Dec 21, 2020

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I spend a lot of time writing about travel, so it might surprise you to learn that I haven’t been abroad in several years.

Shocking, I know! Between living in a fairly expensive city, saving money for “practical” purchases, and gearing up to start grad school in the fall, I  decided to put my international travel aspirations on hold until 2020.  

As for this summer’s travel plans, I wanted to keep it low-key. Maybe I’d take a trip to the coast with a few of my friends, or I could try to score a cheap flight to visit my family back in the Midwest. My plans for a subdued summer started to change when my boyfriend, Josh, announced that he would be attending an academic conference in Italy this July. 
Because this conference was affiliated with my boyfriend’s job, his flights, hotels, and meals would be covered for the duration of the event. Since this would be Josh’s first visit to Italy, he decided to extend his trip by an additional week beyond the end of the conference. He would use this extra time to see more of the city and visit a few nearby destinations, as well. This combination of business and leisure travel — sometimes called “bleisure” — has become increasingly common, especially among millennials. So like any good millennial, I immediately agreed when Josh asked if I wanted to join him for “part two” of his European travels. 
After months of planning, Josh and I just finished booking our last hotel. We still have a few items to finalize in our itinerary, but it’s shaping up to be a memorable summer vacation. As it turns out, bleisure travel has helped us balance our personal and professional obligations — and in some ways, it’s led to an even better vacation.


Boss’s approval

As we mentioned in a previous post on bleisure travel, 20 percent of North American millennial employees opt out of a bleisure trip due to concerns about their boss’s disapproval. Luckily, that wasn’t Josh’s or my experience when we first spoke with our bosses about our travels. In fact, it was Josh’s boss who first suggested that Josh take additional time off to travel after the conference. With her encouragement, we began planning our trip around destinations that were easily accessible from the conference venue.
On my end, I scheduled a time to speak with my manager about these upcoming travel plans. A two-week vacation can create plenty of logistical challenges, but with seven months of advanced notice, my boss was more than willing to accommodate my request. Since our initial meeting, we have been working together on ways to prepare for my two-week absence and reduce the overall impact that my time away will have on my department. 

Work perks

One unexpected benefit of bleisure travel is just how cost-effective it can be. Josh was able to get his flights, hotel accommodations during the conference, and some meal costs entirely covered. Although he’ll need to pay out-of-pocket for any expenses that aren’t related to work, overall, he’ll be traveling abroad for only a fraction of the cost. 
Although I paid for my trip out-of-pocket, I’ve used my experience writing for Seven Corners to help inform my search for travel insurance. Since Josh and I will be staying outside of the U.S., having a travel medical insurance plan that could help cover us in case of an unexpected event or accident is key. And since we’ve both made non-refundable reservations during this trip, the added benefit of trip protection insurance can help us get some of that money back in case our travel plans are disrupted. 

Staying sharp 

Bleisure travel is all about balancing work-related tasks against the exciting activities that await. During his multi-day conference, Josh will be committed to the business side of the trip — networking with professionals in his field, attending presentations and poster sessions, and gathering valuable information and resources to share with his team when he returns. There may be opportunities for relaxation and fun, but for the most part, this first leg of Josh’s trip is all business.
Meanwhile, I will be arriving on the second-to-last day of the conference. Since Josh will be away during the day, I plan to use my first few days in Italy for some professional development of my own. My goal is to explore the neighborhood around my Airbnb to find the perfect writing nook. Once I’ve made good progress on any pending projects, I’ll chip away at professional development for my full-time job — taking online courses, researching new ideas for projects, and reading up on industry news. 
Once the conference is over, of course, Josh and I will have more than a week of leisure travel ahead. No emails, no projects, no presentations in sight — just the European countryside and plenty of amazing food. This trip won’t be entirely free of work, but by front-loading the bulk of our professional activities at the start of the trip, we are ensuring that we can more fully enjoy the “fun” portion of our vacation.
Traveling independently, traveling together
One of the unexpected benefits of bleisure travel is that it offers built-in opportunities for Josh and me to travel solo. Before I arrive, Josh will have the chance to explore the city and scope out great places for us to visit together. And while Josh is attending professional events, I can use the time that I’m not working to do some wandering of my own. 
If we were to have taken a traditional vacation, the two of us would have likely done all of our touring and exploring together. Bleisure travel is different. With our separate work schedules defining our leisure time, each of us will have the ability to get to know the city on our own time, at our own pace. That way, when we explore the city together, we can focus on just the highlights.
I’ve always been a vocal proponent of work-life balance, so I never thought I’d be one to embrace the bleisure travel trend. But with my first bleisure trip on the horizon, I’m excited for the opportunities that it holds. Cost-effective, professionally advantageous, and downright exciting, this bleisure trip will give an unexpected dose of adventure in what would have been a perfectly average summer.  

About the Author

Grace Lower

Grace Lower has a love for all things writing and travel. When she's not exploring new places, Grace enjoys teaching English as a Second Language, making terrible puns, and running incredibly long distances at incredibly slow speeds.

Read more of Grace’s blogs

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