One way to travel to new places for free: travel for work. All expenses are paid and you experience a new city or town that wasn’t on your bucket list. Of course, you may not be traveling under ideal conditions – you’ll be seeing your coworkers all day – but you may also find surprises.
If you’re dreading spending breakfast to bedtime with your coworkers, here are five reasons to look at the experience in a positive light.
1 Experience new places
When you travel for work, you see places you wouldn’t otherwise travel to because you couldn’t think of a single reason why you’d like to go there. For example, going to a small town can be a shock if you’re from a big city with plenty of nightlife. You could find yourself going to the downtown core to do some sightseeing, only to find the place deserted by 7 p.m.
On the upside, you could find yourself in a tiny village where the tourist highlight is the local coffee shop. If you dare to hike behind the school, you could find yourself in a wooded area, knee-deep in snow while taking in post-card views. You could run into wolves running next to people’s pet dogs or risk falling into a hole in a frozen lake while Skidoos pass you by.
2 Bond and see a new side of your coworkers
When you travel to a new place, you could be with your coworkers from morning until night, more than the usual eight hours a day. As you converse over breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you learn more about each other’s family, hobbies, and opinions. Learning about a coworker’s weekend adventures can be more entertaining than talking about work all day.
If you stay in the same cabin or housing, you also discover each other’s evening routine as you have tea together and chat. If you’re staying at a place without TV or internet, evenings can be entertaining or dull, depending if you prefer reading on your own or chatting with your coworker.
3 Learn technology skills
If you’re fascinated by TV shows where the main character has to create gadgets and solve problems on the fly, working in a new environment could give you a similar experience.
Your usual IT person isn’t around, so if you can’t find a file or your computer doesn’t connect to WiFi (even after you learn the WiFi password), you start to push the boundaries of your computer skills. Or you talk to your computer and beg it to please cooperate for once.
4 Practice speaking and networking skills
When you travel for work with coworkers, the experience is great for extroverts but nightmarish for introverts. You’re constantly socializing: talking with your coworkers during meals and meetings, networking with new people such as the host, the client, and anyone they introduce you to.
During the day, you may be making presentations or conducting meetings and negotiations. In the evening, the host may become your tour guide and show you around the city. One memorable occasion was when I had dinner at a heritage home. We toured the house with its collection of unique door knobs, a clawfoot tub, and rooftop view.
5 Test your navigational skills
Starting from the moment you land, you’re searching your way through the airport to find your luggage and hope it’s also arrived safely and not lost during the connecting flight. Then you need to figure out how to find the transportation that will get you to your hotel while reading a map that is in your second language.
In the evenings, you could ask the hotel concierge for a map of the city so you can explore it on your own or with a coworker. You might find yourself at a pop-up market on a cobblestone street, or hiking through the woods in your office clothes.
Traveling for work can be a memorable adventure. You’ll face new challenges in an unfamiliar environment and experience new places and meet new people. When you return to the office, you may be relieved to see your coworkers for only eight hours a day again, or you might have new topics to discuss when you meet at the water cooler.
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