I feel it’s appropriate to mention at this point (while the site is relatively new) one of my strategies for traveling not just to the places that work wants to send me, but also to the places I want to go for free. I flex.
What does ‘flex’ mean? It’s short for ‘flexible flight’ and it a common term among management consultants, public auditors, and any other profession that requires significant amounts of travel. It refers to the ability of an employee to fly wherever they want for the weekend INSTEAD of going back home.
For example, while I was working in Atlanta, I would typically fly back to Denver (home) for the weekends. But, I could choose to fly to New York instead and spend the weekend there, as long as the flight was cheaper than going back home. Or when I was in Washington DC for work, it was cheaper for me to stay in a hotel in the city for the weekend than it was for me to fly back home, so I spent that weekend seeing the sights of DC. Sounds like a good deal, right?
There are trade offs though.
The first is extended times away from home. I’ve never done more than two flex weekends in a row, but even that means three weeks away from home in a row. This has made learning how to pack efficiently for business and leisure travel extremely important, as I need to stretch out professional clothes to last the entire time.
Another trade off is the limited time at destinations. I usually arrive to my flex destination late Thursday night, work from the hotel or coffee shop all day Friday and then have Saturday and Sunday to see the city. If I’m flexing to the west coast but working on the east coast, it usually means catching a flight mid day Sunday in order to be back at work by Monday morning. This limits the time available to see a city. But in some ways I like it because it forces me to be creative in planning my weekend itinerary, choosing out only the best things to see, eat, and do during my short visit. I have to make the most of every travel opportunity I’m given.
Flexing has allowed me to expand my travel beyond what’s required for work and allowed me to visit many places I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see otherwise. Going forward, many of the trip reports you’ll see on this site are a result of those flex flights and the subsequent weekend trips.
I try to make a point of taking (on average) at least one flex flight a month to ensure I’m getting the most out of this benefit. For 2012, I’m planning on the following Flex Trips:
- New York, New York
- San Diego, California
- San Francisco, California
- Miami, Florida
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- …others to be determined