As a small business owner with several irons in the fire, rather than carve out a week or 10 days for a vacation, I try to tack on extra days when I have to travel to interesting places for business. 

Recently my husband went with me to meetings in Puerto Rico which was the perfect place to “add on” days.  Of course, I can never quite turn off my business mode, so by the end of that trip I had located an outlet for my products as well as a new supplier and connected with someone who wanted to share some design patterns.  

Obviously, my husband is a very good sport about me wandering off to talk with a potential customer/vendor/counterpart, so there are times when I turn off the cell phone altogether and follow his lead, even if it takes me into the nearest casino.

Typically, if I have meetings or trade shows out of town, if there is anything of interest to him, my husband will come along with me and do his own thing while I’m working and then we spend time together afterwards. Or many times he will work for me at trade shows just to take a break from his own job and to help me out. It’s a great way to spend time together and gives him an understanding of the joys and frustrations I experience with my business. 

As a result of these “add-on vacation days,” we are able to go to more new places and explore more interesting sights than if we had to plan one week-long vacation every year. 

But even in the event that we actually take a real vacation, I still manage to wander off to talk business with someone.  I am forever fascinated by other business owners and what they do for a living. 

And yes, often times I come away with a new business contact or referral for the many other business owners that I know back home. 

 C. Cookie Driscoll is owner/manager of Whodathunkit Farm, a full-care boarding and learning facility in Fairfield, Pa., and serves on the board of trustees of the National Small Business Association.