Thank you Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase for sponsoring this series of articles for the business traveler. Savvy business travelers are masters at balancing the “professional” with the “personal” when they travel. They work effectively to carve out time to sightsee.  They experience local culture. They seek out hidden gems to entertain clients. They accumulate rewards to leverage for more adventures in new cities.  In this series, we’ll provide tips and resources for business travelers to not only work “smart,” but also play “smart” to get more out of their business travel and enjoy the journey. 

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You’re multi-tasking and video-conferencing with the home office.  You’ve carefully packed your suitcase to maximize your wardrobe’s impact.  You’ve got your files on the cloud, so you rapidly access them should the need arise.  You are the champion of checking in with the boss.

When it comes to serving your home office’s mission while out of country, you shine.  Your efforts ought to be commended (and maybe they are), but what about finding ways to make the most of your travel for your own personal benefit, too?

Networking Can Also Be Personal

Just because you are traveling (and networking) for the company doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the new location to network your way toward a brighter personal future.  Are there businesses in town related to the kinds of work you want to do when you finally hang up your corporate hat?

Maybe you have a dream of opening up a cupcakery in bustling downtown Boston, and that spice shop you discovered at the night market in Kuala Lumpur has a contact who can ship you exotic flavors that will make your future competition regret you ever took up a cake pan.

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A network of potential business partners abroad might be just the thing you need to launch a second career.  Take the time to shake hands (when culturally correct), exchange business cards and email addresses.

The Flight’s On Us

All of that corporate flying you and your colleagues have been doing likely has been racking up airline miles, which your company might be using to save on, well, future business travel.  Have you considered asking the management team to look into charities that could use those miles to help out families in need?

Many children’s hospitals provide some form of temporary housing for families of recovering children, but cannot afford the airfare needed to keep a family together while going through a serious illness or injury.

Put together a list of charities that need assistance with flights, and ask your boss to float the idea.  Make-A-Wish needs over a billion miles in order to make the dream of every needy child who has reached out to its organization come true.

There’s nothing more personally rewarding than being able to help someone who has been suffering enjoy the experience of a lifetime.

Search Your Inside, Outside

Many business travelers make it a point to continue (or ramp up) their workout schedule while abroad.  Staying healthy, of course, is commendable, but one’s spiritual and mental wellbeing are equally (if not more) important.  Consider looking into the rich spiritual history that may reside around you.

As you ponder your company’s road ahead while awaiting a business meeting in Amman, Jordan, you could spend an afternoon at Mount Nebo, where Moses is said to have overlooked the Land of Canaan.

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Another way to find oneself wandering down a new emotional avenue is by visiting memorials built in honor of historical events, past military conflicts, or great leaders.  Before visiting the Golden Tower of Seville, Spain, don’t forget to take the time to read the local history behind the fortress’ protection of the harbor.  And bring a camera along, of course.

Card Perks Are Your Travel Friend

If much of your corporate travel occurs in the form of your company reimbursing your expenses, consider paying with a credit card that provides you some travel perks of your own. The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase provides 5 points for every dollar you spend at a Marriott hotel. Are you a die-hard company traveler? Spend $1,000 on travel, airfare, car rentals, dining or other purchases in your first three months, and you’ll receive 50,000 bonus points – enough for six nights’ free accommodation. It’s a great way to leverage your expenses today towards your personal travel goals.

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Loyalty Programs

If you’re renting cars often, make sure that you are taking advantage of their rewards programs as well. You just might find yourself with a few free days rental in no time. Even if the company purchased your rental, with a rewards card you may be able to frequently upgrade the model for free, by cashing in your rewards.

If you have to be away from home, why not find ways to let the stores you do business with lend you a helping hand on your next personal vacation? Take a close look at your purchasing habits while abroad. If you find yourself visiting the same businesses (clothing, grocery, etc.), look into their rewards programs as well. You can always cash in points when you and the family are traveling for fun at a later date.

It’s important to be “all in” when on the company dime.  But once you shake hands and head back to the hotel room, you are free to make your mark, make an emotional or spiritual connection, make a future, and rack up some promising rewards toward your own personal adventures in the effort.

Images of plane wing, Night Market, Make A Wish meeting, Mount Nebo and Egyptian Stele courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

As a Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Cardmember, you earn 5 points per $1 spent at over 3,600 Marriott® locations worldwide. Learn more.

Thank you to Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase and Technorati Media for being sponsors of this article. All opinions expressed here are my own.