Though based in the DC Metro area, the regional office for Nicole’s company is in Houston. And with a project teaming partner in USVI, travel is inevitable. She and her husband are always jetting off to different locales to handle business affairs.
The couple recently became empty nesters and, as Nicole says in her Trini lingo, she has a “hot foot” (i.e., can’t stay home.) However, no one ever said business travel has to be all work and no fun. Even when traveling for business, Nicole is sure to find time for enjoyment.
“Every place I travel for business I intentionally curate a little fun and relaxation,” said Nicole. “I am a firm believer that work and fun can coexist.” Of this year’s business trips, visiting the US Virgin Islands was the most memorable for her.
“We visited with our Headquarters team. We made sure to schedule work with ample time for them to make the most use of their time on the island and even encouraged them to bring along their significant others. However, we did our own thing so as to not ‘cramp their style.'”
“This trip coincided with my husband’s birthday. I planned dinner on the beach at the Ritz Carlton. The next day we did a sunset sail. I took a ferry over to St. John to have a little beach time. We dined on another part of the island less frequented by tourists. When we travel we enjoy socializing with the locals and learning about the culture. We even got some spa time in.”
For Nicole, the benefits of being able to travel for business with her husband/business partner are numerous. In addition to having the opportunity to connect with one another in a different space, the couple has the chance to create memories together while exploring new places and cultures.
“It’s like one continuous sexy date. When the kids were home, traveling was an opportunity to have him all to myself, and once work was over, we got to play without the focus being the kids.”
“In addition, we make our relationship a priority at home also. We connect with weekly dates and share hugs at the office when decisions are difficult (this reminds us of what’s important) or just sit and stare into each other’s eyes. So, when we travel, we get to elevate date night in a new city with new exquisite experiences and rendezvous to unique excursions.”
It is important for Nicole to prioritize romance and relaxation in her life. She believes that everyone should do their best to find a healthy balance between work, couple time, and self-care, as this is essential for our health and well-being.
“I’m so glad that we as a community are normalizing mental health and self-care more recently. Connecting with my husband and enjoying his company, taking time off to breathe, travel, or pamper myself is part of that self-care. It is a life-or-death thing at this point. Not long ago, people were working themselves into their graves and that’s not the life I want for me nor us as a couple.”
One way she says couples can prioritize enjoying romance and relaxation when they are busy is by scheduling regular, if not weekly dates, which she emphasizes do not have to be extravagant or expensive.
“However, they should be thoughtful. My husband and I had high tea on our screened-in patio on a rainy afternoon and it was lovely and didn’t cost much. Living room picnics can be divine. Couples must be mindful in making time for intimacy and connection.”
Nicole also recommends the following tips for making business travel more enjoyable:
- “Understand who is in your network, whether it be a friend, love interest, or peer. By engaging with that person before arrival, they can brief you on all the happenings and ideal spots that you will be interested in to ensure a good time after the long workday. This can also provide an opportunity for depth in connections that are not as accessible.
- If there are no friends to be found at your destination, do research on potential events to attend like a concert, cycling classes, or restaurants. Scheduling and attending these events, shifts the trip from a mundane and serious exercise to an exciting and fulfilling end to a long workday in a new place.
- Maximize all corporate perks if they are available. For example, if your company is sending you out on travel, typically it includes a flight, per diem, and a transportation stipend. Make sure all the hotel points and travel miles are accumulated under your personal account, for personal travel later. If they allow you to rent a car and you are comfortable driving in a new place, get the nicest car possible. Similarly, depending on the budget your corporation has given, pick a nice hotel.
- Take your family or significant other. It’s not often you can take a trip where flight tickets are the only necessity. Take full advantage. (By the way, I encourage my staff to do this!)
- To maximize your time, if you have flexibility in your travel, try to book the time you will be in a particular country or city to coincide with a popular music festival, museum opening, concert, or another upcoming event. If you are cool with off-season travel, you know tickets for popular destinations will be cheaper. Book your stay a couple of days earlier or stay a couple of days later.”