Going on a business trip alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. Forget the sad, room service club sandwich at the end of your working day. Instead, embrace your downtime, get out and do those things that you can’t do at home.
We spoke to Gill Sharma, a marketing executive who travels regularly for business about what she enjoys most when she travels solo for work. Here are some of her recommendations.
Try a cuisine nobody else at home likes
“It’s easy to slip into crowd-pleasing compromise dining at home: your local Italian that caters for vegetarians and picky children, or Indian that serves the blandest kormas,” says Gill. If you love Japanese food but your partner can’t stand the sight of raw fish, or you’re a carnivore with vegan teenagers, a business trip is the perfect opportunity to indulge in a sashimi set with oysters, or steak tartare all to yourself.
Once you get used to the idea that nobody else cares if you’re eating alone, solo dining is a pleasure. There’s only you, so choose the most expensive item on the menu. Window or bar seats are perfect for solo diners – you can eat in peace, soaking up the atmosphere of the restaurant or the street without having to make conversation. Gill says, “You don’t have to share your food, and you can even read at the table.”
Try a supper club or pop-up restaurant
If dining solo really doesn’t appeal, supper clubs and pop up restaurants, usually held in a host’s home or interesting venue, are a great way to socialise with like-minded strangers and eat great home-cooked food. Check eatwith for international and London listings or simply search ‘supper clubs’ in the city you’re staying in.
Try a new exercise, free of embarrassment
Maybe you’ve always fancied a new routine but haven’t the time to experiment at home. Pack your gym kit and find a hotel session while you are away on business. You may discover a new exercise that you can proudly take up at home. “And if you find you’re rubbish at it after all, nobody need ever know,” says Gill.
Go to a late-night opening
Some galleries and museums have midweek late-night openings, perfect for avoiding weekend crowds and parties of over-enthusiastic schoolchildren. Some put on regular monthly special events and previews. Wander around the galleries in your own time, choose a particular favourite piece to look at in depth, and maybe grab a bite to eat at the café.
Learn a new language
If you regularly visit a particular city for business you could consider enrolling in language evening classes there. As well as learning a useful new skill, you may get to know local people you can meet up with on other evenings, or who can give you some insider knowledge about other great things going on in their city. In addition, there are plenty of excellent free apps available for you to try should you want the comfort of your hotel room instead (try Duolingo for starters).
Arrange to meet up with an old friend
You may have a school or college friend living in the area who isn’t part of your usual home or family circle of friends. Why not meet up one evening? Catch up on gossip over a drink and laugh about your school or university days without the distractions of family life or partners who don’t understand the in-jokes. And best of all, you can meet in your hotel bar so the distance home is negligible!
Make time to read
When was the last time you had a couple of hours solid reading for pleasure? Reading is the perfect wind-down at the end of a business day, so take that hefty bestseller with you. If you think you won’t be able to keep your eyes open, listen to an audio book or podcast as you relax.