When I travel, whether for work or for funsies, the first thing I research is where I can eat, things to do, and where can I go to shop. My mindset has always been that traveling for work is work, but it can also be fun. To be successful at this, it takes preparation. Below, I am going to tell you how I prep for a workcation.
In 2005, I embarked on my first trip for work. It was a conference that took place in Austin, TX. Being my first work conference and first time in Austin, my primary thought was, how can I bring and include vacation Winter with work Winter. This thought has guided me over the past 14 years of attending conferences for work.
Once I figure out where the conference is being held, if it is a place I’ve never been, I start researching the location. I check to see if the city has a tourism website or a city guide and if there is a current travel guidebook at Barnes & Nobles, with my preferred publisher being the DK Eyewitness Travel guides. I start building lists from these sources. Each list is created to capture three overarching themes: where I can eat, what can I do/see, and where can I shop.
I pull together all the information I gathered from the tourism website and travel guide. I enhance this information by scouring different websites (i.e. Food Network, AFAR, Travel + Leisure, the New York Times travel section, etc.) to gather more possibilities. Once I feel that my list is pretty comprehensive, I check to see if each item on my list has a website. For the “eat” list, I review each menu to see if the restaurant has food that I would want to eat. For the “do/see” list, I include everything because I never know how much time I will have to explore and how long it will take me to get to the location from my conference location. For the “shop” list, I check to see if they location has items that I would be interested in possibly purchasing.
The next step is to check review websites, like Trip Advisor and Yelp. The primary information that I look at and recommend looking at is the traveler photos and the reviews (order or review: most recent, then sort by highest rated and then look at the lowest rated). I want to see what other travelers or locals think about the places on my list. If you only look at the location’s website, you are only going to see their representative; you aren’t necessarily going to see the unvarnished truth.
Once I pull this all together, I have my own specialized city guide for the location I am visiting. After this, I create a layered Google Map with all the possible places that I can eat, do/see, and shop. My base layer contains the location of my hotel. My research is now complete!
To fully prepare for my workcation, though, I take one more step: I build a schedule in excel with all of the conference sessions and workshop that I plan to attend. This helps me to visualize when I will have free time to explore outside of the conference.
Below are links to the templates I built to plan my “workcation”:
Preliminary Schedule grid template
Google Map example —–>
Having a successful workcation is all in the planning. My next few blog post will focus on my past “workcations” when I traveled during the digital age, with my digital camera or phone camera.