Just because you travel for work it doesn’t mean you can’t use your free time creatively. As relaxing as it is spending your downtime in the hotel gym or sitting in the restaurant, there are also inspiring hobbies that you can do when travelling for business and you’ll always have something interesting to occupy yourself. Here are some of our favourites.
With sophisticated smartphones that perform almost as well as high-definition DSLR cameras, taking beautiful photos on your business travels has never been easier. On a business trip you are probably up early and finishing meetings around sunset: both times of day offer the loveliest light qualities to capture a city at its photogenic best. Robert Caputo from National Geographic suggests you ‘capture a sense of place, which is usually a wide shot that shows the setting, skyline, or other view that gives a feeling for the whole; landmarks that the place is famous for and the life of its inhabitants’. And with the hotel Wi-Fi, there is no better way to organise your day’s shoot than in the comfort of your room.
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright observed: ‘Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you’. It’s true – if you have nature as a hobby, you can do it anywhere – even on a business trip. You can stand on a bridge in a city centre and spot rare species of migratory birds on the river, or look up and recognise a peregrine falcon perched on a high ledge. You can identify the spiders or pollinating insects in the gardens of the hotel, and you’ll know that the scream in the night is a lovestruck vixen rather than something more sinister. You can even combine nature with photography.
Everyone has a novel in them, so the saying goes, so why not use any non-working time sitting in the hotel to plot out that future bestseller? When you have your premise, flesh out the characters, cause them conflicts and dramatise your incidents. After a few business trips you’ll have your first draft! If a novel seems too epic, try writing short stories or some poetry instead. Draw inspiration from the people you meet in your downtime.
Most towns and cities have antique shops, or - even better – street markets with antique stalls. Some European cities such as Paris and Berlin have sprawling flea markets where you can buy anything from a pair of cufflinks to a Victorian chaise longue. If you have some antiques knowledge, this hobby becomes something of a treasure hunt; you are on a quest to unearth a rare piece that stallholders haven’t recognised. If you don’t, the antiques markets are still great places to buy original gifts.
There’s no limit to the things you can collect: stamps, coins, fridge magnets, snow globes, t-shirts, key rings, shot glasses, postcards… most cities throughout the world sell some or all of these. Perfect if you have children back at home who appreciate quirky items to add to their collections, and great for you as memories of business trips to interesting places.
One of the best aspects of business travel is trying new dishes and cuisines, which often makes you want to learn to cook them for yourself. In some countries, just asking politely about a hotel dish is enough to get you invited into the kitchen to learn how Nonna makes her gnocchi so light, but if you want more formal lessons, you could book a cookery class to coincide with your downtime.
From tasting wines on a walking tour of Paris’s historic Marais district to a half-day Douro Valley tour from Porto to sample the famous port wine, there are plenty of wine-tasting opportunities in and around European cities. Many wine tasting tours include food as well for an unforgettable guided gastronomic experience.
Just because you’re away on business, it doesn’t mean you have to let your morning or evening run slip. Indeed, an early-morning jog round a new city lets you see the sights before everyone else is up. Ask the concierge for the best jogging routes from the hotel.