Business and leisure. Leisure and business. When it comes to travel, the two often become so inextricably linked it’s difficult to extract one from the other. A beach holiday goes belly up because of a changed deadline, or a winery tour is tacked on to the back of work trip; a familiar refrain which is fast-becoming the norm and one we’re not only accepting, but supporting. Enter “bleisure” travel; the theory of successfully blurring business travel and leisure travel.
In 2019, 69%* of Airbnb for Work bookings in Australia included at least one weekend day, highlighting our growing desire to maximise work trips. This could mean a quick day trip to Versailles to witness the extravagant hedonism of 17th Century French royalty, or a staycation in the English countryside to decompress after the anarchy of London. Either way, tagging a day or two (or even weeks if you’re an Australian who has travelled half way across the world for a single conference) is becoming standardised in business travel. And it’s predicted “bleisure” trips will only rise in 2020, with both employer and employee becoming increasingly receptive to bleisure.
I experienced the perks of a bleisure trip firsthand late last year. In Milan for work (the beautiful yet demanding beast that was Milan Fashion Week), I added a weekend to a) explore the city’s creative riches and b) indulge a little down time. With the Italian city so far from Sydney, it also seemed foolish not to enjoy a little cultural immersion following a 23-hour flight. But with the call of cannoli strong and the idea of gloriously refreshing Aperol Spritzes nigh, how was I to balance the two and still be productive professionally? How do you execute a blesuire trip to its utmost potential – getting the best of both worlds? Simple, you need a nest. A hub. A home. A sanctuary that is workspace by day and zen den night. Somewhere that cultivates diligence while all the while provides a place for late-night drinks with new friends. A loft in Navigli, Milan’s hip-hood by the canals, gave me this.
Booked via Airbnb for Work, the loft was the haven I required. With its high vaulted ceilings and lovely open-plan living, it facilitated all that I needed for both work and play. Quirky and off-kilter, its eclectic stylistic nuances were reflective of the city’s design DNA, something which proved inspiring for a weary creative (fashion week has the tendency of sucking the life right out of you) and chic for entertaining. But it also provided something else, the comfort – and sanity – of a home (something a hotel can often rarely provide).
While open plan, it’s bed “room” was slightly sectioned off; upstairs in an attic-like enclave that felt cosy and comfortable. But more impratly, it drew a distinction between work and play, and while the two can successfully coexist – a little line in the sand needs to be drawn for effective – and joyful – time of both.
As offices turn to co-share models and hot desking continues to rise, an apartment or loft like mine proves the perfect conduit for all your bleisure needs. For the culturally curious – be it expert gastronome or amateur artist – a bleisure trip appeases a longing desire to explore a new city or country or just take that much needed time to breathe. And because you’re culturally and personally satiated, your original purpose – to work – becomes much more tolerable, even enjoyable.
Mixing business with (p)leisure has never been so good.