Want to expand your personal brand and find a way to pay for some vacation time at the same time?
Try a busman’s holiday.
A busman’s holiday is a vacation where you spend a lot of your time doing the same thing, or at least something similar, to your regular job.
The term is originally British, where the term “holiday” means vacation. It referred to a bus driver going on a long bus trip for his vacation. So an artist would hang out in museums and galleries, an actor would watch plays, and an astronomer would head out to the desert for some star gazing.
So how can you take a busman’s holiday to expand your own personal brand? Better yet, why should you even bother? You’re on vacation, right?
True, but consider some of the tax and cost implications of what you’re doing. When you’re on vacation, you’re on vacation. And when you’re working, you’re working. But if you had to travel for work and paid for it yourself, then you get some tax benefits for it, especially if you’re an entrepreneur or own a small business.
Here are three things you can use some vacation time to grow your personal brand, or better yet, get work to pay for some of it.
1. Schedule coffee meetings and lunches with people in other cities on vacation.
Before you leave, reach out to people in your network who live in other cities, and invite them to coffee or a meal. Conduct the same kind of one-on-one meeting we’ve told you about in other blog posts.
This does a couple of things. First, you’re meeting new people and building professional relationships that could benefit you later on. Second, you can at least claim those meals and costs on your taxes .
2. Add an extra day or two onto a conference trip.
When you’re in a new city at a conference, rarely do you get to leave the hotel, let alone see some of the sites. But if your travel plans have you home at the end of the week, look at the costs of extending your stay for a day or two. In some cases, that may slash the cost of a plane ticket enough to even pay for the extra hotel nights.
But even if it doesn’t, push the travel dates out a day or two on either end, take a couple days off work, pay for those extra hotel nights and meals, and take some time to see some of the sites. As long as you keep personal and work costs separate, you’re getting a working vacation, and you’re only paying for the extras.
3. Attend conferences in vacation destination.
Combine these last two ideas and attend conferences as part of a dream vacation. Have you always wanted to visit Montreal, or even Paris? There are plenty of conferences held in those cities that you could attend. There are also other professionals there worth meeting.
Plan a vacation around the conference dates. See if you can pay for the conference and necessary costs through work, but then add your week’s vacation either on the front or back end of the trip. And if you take one or two days out of that for networking, you can even take some of the tax benefits for those days as well.
Finally, please, oh please, get professional tax advice before you try writing off a four month trip to Europe over a single meeting. Speak with an accountant, ask them what’s acceptable to claim as expenses, and then make sure you save receipts on everything.
It may take some extra work on your part, but you can make a busman’s holiday work (and fun) for you. Any time you leave your hometown, or even your home country, you’ve got a brand new opportunity to meet some new professionals and expand your personal brand and professional horizon. Take those opportunities whenever you find them, because you never know if they’re going to result in a dramatic turn in your life five years down the road.
Erik Deckers is the owner of Professional Blog Service, and the co-author of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself and No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing.