Combining business and leisure travel, Jackie Sheehan of FROSCH Ireland tells us about her recent US trip.
Bleisure, simply put, is the practice of combining business travel and leisure travel into one trip: Recently I had the opportunity to test this combination when I travelled with the Ireland Gateway to Europe (IGTE) group to Chicago & Boston (the business part) then onwards to New Orleans to visit a childhood friend (the leisure part). This trip to New Orleans should have happened many times but due to one thing and another, it never did. When the itinerary was confirmed for the Ireland Gateway to Europe (IGTE ) trip, I jumped at the opportunity to tag on a visit to New Orleans at the end of the US work event. More and more, we are seeing corporate executives using their business trips as an opportunity to explore their surroundings and discover new cultures and experiences by adding extra leisure days. It was the best decision in regards travel I have made in a long time. I would urge everyone who travels for business to maximise the time, the flights and the cost by discovering somewhere new, adding on a few extra days.
The Business Trip:
My trip started out with two nights in Chicago, two nights in Boston, followed by a week in New Orleans. My first time in Chicago, or the Windy City as it is known, did not disappoint. I always thought that Chicago had the nickname the Windy City due to wind, but apparently it is a term used metaphorically to make out that Chicagoans were braggarts, in other words full of hot air. Either way the sun was shining while I was there and even though it was a whirlwind stop, I did get to experience the Magnificent Mile, deep pan pizza at Lou Malnatis, & Chicago Cut the famous steakhouse. Workwise I was amazed at how much I could get done in 48 hours actively engaged with your colleagues also on the trip. The IGTE is a not-for-profit collective of Irish service providers who showcase Ireland as Europe’s premier investment location through events in the US and UK. The group promotes bilateral transatlantic trade: to encourage US firms to invest in Ireland, while also helping Irish companies that are looking to get a foothold in the American market. The highlight of the Chicago stop was experiencing the Chicago Bulls V Milwaukee Bucks and also the tour of Northwestern University. The entertainment that goes along with a sporting event like basketball is off the charts and definitely an experience to remember. Northwestern was really impressive. As one of the country’s leading private research and teaching universities in the US was an experience to say the least, the level of commitment and attention to detail that goes into operating this establishment. Next stop Boston. A short stop visiting Boston College, the offices of Drift, and finishing with a trip to the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the US senate. I had a very quick walk around downtown Boston and Boston common and I’ve earmarked it for a return visit.
Chicago Bulls V Milwaukee Bucks
And then on to Leisure Travel.
I flew from Boston to New Orleans, Louisiana, really excited to have some down time and experience all the sights and sounds NOLA has to offer. My friend met me at the airport which is always a perk when you arrive somewhere new. After a good night’s sleep, I was ready for the French Quarter, which is also the oldest neighbourhood in the City of New Orleans. This is an area I have seen many times in magazines, on the TV and heard about from my friend who has lived and had a long-standing love affair with NOLA for the last 27 years. The buildings, the characters, the food, the drinks, the coffee at Café Du Monde, and of course the costumes. Bourbon street lived up to its name, party town, music, lights, hen & stag parties and general fun times happening all around me. 20 years ago this would have been my place but now, the French Quarter was more me. When you are visiting a friend, you tend to experience the real life as opposed to the tourist life so this for me was the highlight as well as spending time with my friend. It only took 27 years! I am a foodie and love art so for me the highlights were the beautiful structures, cast iron balconies and walled courtyards that the French quarter is made up of. The colourful Creole cottages and townhouses were exquisite so the “Vieux Carré” as it also known as is a must for a leisurely walk. And the food, where do I start? The crawfish boil, lunch at Commodores Palace, an exclusive restaurant in the Garden district, the Beignets, the Po’boys and the Sazerac, a flavour of New Orleans were some of the tantalising tastes to be savoured to mention but a few.
All in all, “Bleisure” is something I will be continuing as a matter of habit when planning my business trips. Cost wise it makes sense as you have the air ticket covered, so why not go that extra mile and treat yourself, and have a once in a lifetime experience when all your hard work is done!
Jackie on Bourbon Street, New Orleans April 2022
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