Did you know that you have one less day’s leave this year? Because Christmas Day will fall on a Sunday this year, South Africans will only enjoy 11 out of the 12 paid public holidays. Ouch. This means that while you’re hankering after a summer getaway, you could find yourself both low on leave and stressing over the current sky-high prices for airfares.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to find a way to have someone else foot the bill for your flights? Enter bleisure travel. Imagine a weekend down the coast after catching up with clients in Cape Town. Or spending a few days after a business meeting with the ex-pat family in London.
“Globally, over two-thirds of business travellers take at least one bleisure trip per year. Bleisure travel is a great way to maximise your annual leave and save on holiday travel costs. With bleisure, you can enjoy all the benefits of business travel, plus add in some leisure time to make the most of your trip,” says Bonnie Smith, GM of Corporate Traveller.
Add Some Exercise into the Mix
Got a business trip planned for Cape Town? An international break may not be in your budget this year, but you can experience a small taste of France in the Western Cape’s Franschhoek, only an hour from the Mother City. Burn off the stress of your weekday meetings with a mountain bike tour through the vineyards with a Bikes ‘n Wines tour.
Make the Most of your Journey
Heading to Durban for a meeting? Make the return trip luxe and slow. Rovos Rail Tours offers a two-day “safari” between Durban and Pretoria. The 800km ride includes battlefield excursions, a game drive and meandering in the Midlands.
Consider Local Airports
For your weekend break, you can avoid the chaos of international terminals like Heathrow. For example, when you’ve completed your work to-do list in London, you could hop on a plane at London City Airport and be skiing in France within hours.
Follow the Money
So, how does it work? Who pays for what? Your employer likely won’t be footing the bill for your bleisure trip. Generally, they’ll pay for anything related to the business portion of your travel, but as soon as you transition into leisure time, you’re on your own.
“You can expect your employer to book flights for you to and from the destination where you will be working. However, any other travel (for example, to a different destination on the way home) will likely need to be paid for by you. You may also be asked to contribute towards the flight costs. Be sure to check the travel policy for exact details,” warns Smith.
Your employer won’t cover any of the costs of your trip that are for personal reasons. This includes things like meals, accommodation, and incidentals. You can only claim these expenses when you’re staying overnight for work purposes. So make sure you know what you can and can’t spend before shelling out for that seafood platter!
There’s another thing you need to be aware of before you sign up for shark diving or book your Table Mountain abseiling adventure. What if something goes wrong? Will your company’s travel insurance cover you?
“There is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether or not you need travel insurance for a bleisure trip. It depends on your employer’s business travel insurance plan and what coverage it provides. You may need to purchase a separate policy for the leisure portion of your trip, so it’s best to check with your HR department first,” says Smith.
Smith has the following tips for building your first bleisure trip:
Take Advantage of Weekends
By planning your trip, so it starts on a Monday or ends on a Friday, you can arrive on the Saturday before or leave on the Sunday after your business concludes. This will enable you to stay the weekend before or after without having to take any of your precious paid holidays. For week-long trips, you could build two free weekends into your trip.
Stitch on Public Holidays
Take advantage of public holidays to get some extra travel days in without using up any of your paid holiday days. Just be aware that national holidays can often mean higher prices for flights and accommodation, so book early to get the best deals in line with your company’s travel policy.
Be Prepared to Travel Further
No rule says your leisure trip has to be in the exact location of your business trip. Many people take advantage of business trips by adding another city to their itinerary for leisure purposes. This can be a great way to see more of Europe since different countries and cultures are always just a short train ride away.