Business travel can be a pricey affair, whether it's grabbing an extra coffee to battling jet lag or shelling out for an overpriced bagel on the go. It’s especially pricey when you end up in a city like London, which constantly tops the list of the most expensive cities in the world.
London is a popular business destination, but it also doubles up as an ideal place to take a ‘bleisure’ break, explains Flight Centre Business Travel South Africa GM, Ryan Potgieter.
“If you’re flying all that way, it’s worth getting the most out of your trip by adding in a leisure element in between meetings or even requesting some extended leave after your business meetings are finished.”
Potgieter offers his round-up of some things to consider if you’re thinking of going full bleisure on your next business trip to London.
Research what you want to see
Before you go, look up all the attractions that appeal to you in London and make a list of every sight you’d like to see -- from museums to restaurants to shows -- then prioritise according to how much time you have. The Lonely Planet’s Guides app (free for iOS and Android) is a great place to get started as it curates quality information on points of interest, as well as travel tips. You can also bookmark info and save it offline.
Speak to an expert
Save time and avoid going in circles by speaking to a travel consultant. Let them take care of both elements of your trip and work around your budget. They’ll help you cut your research and planning time in half and give you peace of mind if you need to make unforeseen changes throughout your journey.
Maximise your time
Even though London is an English-speaking city and the transport system is well-connected, you can still get completely lost. Don’t try to cram everything in when it comes to sightseeing in-between your meetings, it’s a disaster waiting to happen. Keep your leisure schedule light so you can actually enjoy exploring without feeling crunched for time.
Tube strikes and delays
Whether you’re spending the day sightseeing or in business meetings always keep an eye on the news and check sites like tfl.gov.uk for any bus or tube strikes and transport delays. Download travel apps like Citymapper and Google Maps to map the quickest routes. Keep Uber on hand, as well as the Santander Cycles app where you can hire a bike from as little as £2 from their docking stations, then return it to another one when you’re done.
Food and accommodation
As you’ll be spending a lot of time on business, it makes sense to stay closer to your work obligations. Still, it helps to plan all three—work, fun, and lodging—in the same general vicinity so you can spend less time (and money) on commuting to and from everything. Ask your travel expert for a fun area to stay in, like Shoreditch, Soho and Camden, for some great pubs and eateries. Apps like Great Little Place and VoucherCloud here are ideal for finding top-rated restaurants with discounts too.
Onwards from London
On your next bleisure trip to London, there’s no need to stay in the city. If you are able to take a few days off after business is done, take the Eurostar across to Paris, or the train to Scotland. London is much like a gateway to the rest of Europe so you could even catch a reasonably priced flight to countries like Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece instead of spending all your time and money in one place.
Potgieter concludes that the most efficient way to go about adding a leisure element to your business trip is by speaking to a travel professional who will fit your mini-leisure break within your budget, advise on value-adds like accommodation upgrades and offer travel tips to really get the most of your time and money in the British capital.