91

I'm being sent to California for an 8-day training course (8 consecutive days; I don't get a weekend off). I'd like to spend a day at a nearby Six Flags park for some fun while I'm in the area, but I'm a bit worried that my boss would look down on me for even asking about spending an extra day down there to do something not work-related.

Is it common to get extra time during business travel to do some leisure? The company is paying for my airfare, hotel, and food while I'm there. I would understand (and expect, really) that they won't pay for the extra night at the hotel and the extra day of food.

I'm still early in my career (Finished my degree in March of last year, got hired by the current company in May), so I'm not sure if making such a request would look bad.

  • 9
    @QuestionMarks While the OP appears to be in the private sector, I do know that there is great sensitivity in the US government about workers deriving any kind of indirect enjoyment from a taxpayer expenditure and consequently there are strong restrictions around tacking a vacation onto business travel. – WinnieNicklaus Mar 18 '15 at 20:56
  • 3
    @corsiKa I just did 3 straight weeks with no weekends, including two 13 hour flights. I had 5 hours sleep after arriving before being woken up to work on a Sunday. This situation is common. – Gusdor Mar 19 '15 at 8:23
  • 2
    Really hope OP tells us how it went! – Bassinator Mar 21 '15 at 14:01
  • Are you travelling from one country to another after surmounting visa requirements? If so, the dynamic of your question and how your company might perceive your request could change. – dearN Mar 23 '15 at 14:14
  • 2
    In my experience, in an overseas assignment, my boss explicitly chided me for NOT planning in an extra day for sightseeing; and rescheduled the return flight ticket on the requisition form to the next day himself. Goes without saying, it was all on the company dime. This and similar gestures are why I am at the same place for over a decade now. – Vaibhav Garg Mar 25 '15 at 5:59
122

Is it common to get extra time during business travel to do some leisure?

It's not uncommon to plan time off around business travel events like this - provided you do so on your own time and your own dime. This means, be prepared to put in a leave request or otherwise use a vacation day.

Of course, you also need to ask well enough ahead of time so that your other responsibilities are adequately covered in your absence.

It's a reasonable question, and I don't think it would hurt to ask. Even if the answer is "No" I don't think it would "look bad".

You might even find that your employer will pay for the extra day themselves - as compensation for being away from home so many days in a row. That not something you can expect, but it might happen.

  • 16
    At one of my previous companies when people were sent on conferences it was not unusual if the conference ran Tuesday through Friday for the attendees to fly back Sunday afternoon. Now Friday and Saturday night at the hotel were normally on the attendee to cover but it was not an issue taking some personal time as long as the person was covering the additional costs. – RubberChickenLeader Mar 18 '15 at 21:10
  • 5
    And if you stay during the weekend, the flight is probably cheaper in the US. – user8365 Mar 19 '15 at 2:06
  • 5
    Everywhere I've worked where long business trips have been part and parcel of the work, asking for a couple of days holiday to enjoy the trip afterwards has been the norm. – Bob Tway Mar 19 '15 at 9:12
  • 39
    If the questioner can't arrange that the extra day is time off in lieu for the weekend worked as part of the 8-day-straight course then, well, I continue to marvel at what US employers can persuade their minions to put up with ;-) – Steve Jessop Mar 19 '15 at 11:12
  • 1
    In my own company a co-worker asked about doing this, and the return plane ticket was more expensive on his chosen day of return so he also had to cover the difference in that cost, might not just be food/hotel you've got to cover. (taxi's, rental car, or not getting paid for miles put on your own car, extra stuff to bring your family, etc) – DoubleDouble Mar 19 '15 at 20:25
61

I used to travel over 50% of the time and we did this sort of thing all the time. I did it the last time I went to a conference too.

They key is to ask before the airline reservations are made. Reservations can be pricey to change, but usually an extra day between the flights won't be more expensive; it is even less occasionally. If it is more expensive, you will need to pay the difference and you will need to pay for your expenses on your free day and take vacation time if it is not a weekend.

  • 6
    +1 on asking before reservations are made. Not only airline reservations, ask before any reservations. – Mast Mar 20 '15 at 12:13
  • Yes - get a quote for the two airfares. Print these out. If staying costs more, pay the difference without being asked. If it is less you are saving the boss a buck. – Floris Mar 20 '15 at 18:37
  • 3
    I generally found that my employers didn't care about price differences between days (assuming neither is completely unreasonable for the route). I think the rationale was that sometimes the company lost, sometimes it won, and keeping the employees happy was more valuable than $40 in airfare. – chmullig Mar 21 '15 at 5:07
15

If you cover your expenses then that should not be a problem.

I have even gotten my expenses paid if it saved money.

If you stay a Saturday the saving on airline is sometimes greater than the cost of food and lodging.

You might not get your expenses paid but if it means a cheaper flight then just tell them as a bonus you actually have lower expenses.

If you are working two weeks then stay the weekend it is often cheaper than two airline flights. If it is a contract where they have to pay travel time then they are trading for real work time. I did this a lot.

5

I don't see the harm in asking if it's allowed. In some places it is, in others, it may not be. I've had the opportunity to do this when I've been on work travel, as have other coworkers, but that's because the policy allows for it. It may also depend on costs - for example, pushing out the return trip by a day or two could increase the airfare, if you're expecting the company to reimburse you for both ends of the flight. Ultimately, as long as you made it clear that you were willing to pay the expenses that were outside the bounds of your job and you have the necessary leave and approvals for the vacation days, it's something that you should ask about. It's a reasonable request and the worst that any reasonable person would say is "no" (and hopefully explain why it's not OK).

  • That would be very nitpicky of the employer if they actually looked at the price of the ticket with and without the longer stay and charged the employee the difference. The employer is essentially getting 24x7 coverage from the employee while he is traveling (since I would not choose on my own to stay in a sterile business hotel in a city with only a few evening hours free), so the least they can do is cover the full cost of the plane tickets. I've never had an employer do that, and they've usually let me extend a trip for a conference ending on Friday until Sunday for free, including hotel. – Johnny Mar 19 '15 at 4:20
3

As others have said this is not uncommon. Ask your manager or hr office what rules apply; they may be different for different kinds of trip. Be aware that if the vacation becomes too large vs. the business part of the trip it may change the tax situation and you may have to treat the tickets as income; that's another good reason to ask in advance.

3

I have done this a couple of times at a large corporation so it is feasible but I think it would depend on your manager. There was nothing to say that it could or could not be done so it was up to my manager's discretion.

There may be a difference in the cost of the flight but if you don't mention it, no one will think twice about it.

On another note, I used to work at Magic Mountain when I was in high school. Unlike Disneyland, they don't open on the weekdays till around Spring Break. It looks like they start full time next week this year, though, so you should be OK. Make sure you're in decent shape - it isn't called Magic Mountain for nothing.

1

An ex-boss once had one weeks travel back to his home country (Germany), for business, and stayed the next week on holiday. He payed half the airfare. Totally reasonable and sensible as long as you're being asked to make the business trip independent of personal benefit.

0

In general this is ok as long as company policy allows it, you pay all your separate leisure expenses, and you take any necessary PTO (although some or all of Friday(/Sunday in lieu) would already have been dedicated to traveling anyway). So, if your company culture and policy allow it, no it wouldn't look bad; if they don't, it would.

Now from the cost point of view, if you need to make the case to management or the accounts dept for allowing this, one good technique used is to print off the airfares for a Friday and Sunday return and show them how much $$$ you're saving them. The Friday one will almost invariably be a lot higher, due to demand and the airline industry's trusty old Saturday-night-stay price structure.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.