Bleisure Travel: Why Mixing Work and Pleasure Has Become So Popular
Business trips are as old as business itself, but the way we travel and the way we work has seen a huge sea change in just a few short years.
The line between trips taken for business or pleasure has been essentially erased by better tech, more remote/hybrid work, and a higher respect and need for work/life balance. We’re gonna take a look at not only why bleisure trips have become more popular lately, but also how the work trip has evolved into something new.
What is Bleisure Travel?
The term itself is just a combo of “business” and “leisure,” but it’s also been called a “merged trip” by industry insiders. Essentially, bleisure travel means you’re either working while on a leisure vacation or adding extra vacation time to a work trip.
It also isn’t a new concept: the term dates back decades, actually. But, the concept has been popping up more lately, for, well, a lot of reasons that we’ll get to in a moment.
But you can see it here: the term “bleisure trends” has skyrocketed in the past month on Google search:
There’s no doubt part of the resurgence has been an overall boost in travel in general. According to the US Travel website, travel spending increased in December of 2022, a 7% boost since 2021. Global tourism has also jumped up 30% in 2023.
But even a general increase in traveling and tourism doesn’t necessarily point to bleisure travel.
Tech and Remote Work Are the Perfect Recipe for Bleisure
The next completely sane question, of course, is why? Why is bleisure travel suddenly on everyone’s mind?
With the rise of remote work and digital communication, many employees are able to work from anywhere, at any time. This has made it easier for people to combine business travel with leisure time, as they can take care of work-related tasks while they are away from the office.
Digital communication lets people work on their vacations. This obviously isn’t an awesome thing to do, but it’s still a reality. The fact is, quicker access to work from anywhere means people will, well, work from anywhere. They’re answering emails, responding on Slack, jumping into shared docs or editing graphics right on their phones.
A more charitable read, of course, is that these tools mean a person on a vacation doesn’t have to rush back to the office right away. They can add a day before or after their work meeting or personal development seminar to actually check out the place they’ve been working in.
A third mode of leisure travel is just the ability to work anywhere. If you’re going to be staring at spreadsheets or making client calls, why can’t you be doing these things on a tropical beach somewhere? Basically, some bleisure travel is deciding to just change up your surroundings while at the “office.”
Remote work allows for more flexible schedules, which allows for better travel deals. Remote and hybrid work means you don’t necessarily have to be belly-up to the desk from exactly 8:00am on Monday.
And more people are remote working than ever. According to a TravelPerk study, 76% of those polled said their companies had moved to hybrid work schedules. Zippia research found that 26% of U.S. workers were working fully remote.
Being able to work remotely allows you to plan vacations as you need them. What’s to stop you from getting the project done on Saturday and Sunday and then getting crazy deals on hotels and airline tickets for a Monday-Tuesday vacation? Or to surf in the morning and work at night?
Bleisure Trips are Overtaking All Others
Vasu Raja, Chief Commercial officer at American Airlines, recently spoke at the 2023 Skift Global Forum about how bleisure trips are a massive part of the airline business right now.
In the seminar, Raja said that almost half of American Airlines revenue was coming from bleisure trips (what he calls “blended trips”). More surprising, Raja said that over 70-80% of their airline fares were from these blended trips.
He also said that most of these blended trips, according to American Airlines’ data, were from people working while on vacation. So, people taking conference calls, putting out work-fires, and finishing up projects while they were supposed to be riding the Matterhorn with the kids.
Interestingly, Raja said most bleisure trips weren’t undertaken by people at the big Fortune 500 companies. He said a majority of the blended trips were being undertaken by folks in companies with less than 100 people.
Bleisure Trips Can Help Work/Life Balance
Combining business and leisure travel can help anyone experience new destinations and local cultures. To make the most of a work trip, or to stay on top of important work issues while having a bit of fun.
At its best, leisure travel is a way to help find a better work-life balance. A way to use the flexibility of communication technology and hybrid work schedules to find more time to travel. To see the sights, to lighten up a business trip, or to just switch up the work environment.
We just have to make sure to enjoy our non-work moments and put down the phone, occasionally.