Business trip to Dallas? Make the most of it

This is how you become a real Dallas cowboy
This is how you become a real Dallas cowboy

All work and no play can make for one cranky business traveler. If you're traveling to Dallas for work, try to squeeze in some downtime between meetings -- or even tag on an extra day to experience the city.

Don't feel guilty: Some 43% of business trips to conventions are likely to mix business and leisure, according to Expedia.

Here are some tips for making the most out of your trip to the convention city, and having a little fun along the way.

MAXIMIZE YOUR HOTEL PERKS

Be hotel chain loyal. It gets you great perks. I'm a platinum member at two hotel chains, but I didn't get there by staying the traditional 75 nights. Instead, I did what's called a platinum challenge. If you're on the road all the time, it's worth signing up. For example, Marriott gives you 3 months to stay 19 nights. Meet the challenge and you'll reach status and get all the benefits faster.

GET OUTSIDE

Be a cowboy for the day. If you're like me and obsessed with HBO's "Westworld," you've imagined riding a horse off into the distance or maybe taking your turn as a cattle rancher for the day. At Beaumont Ranch, about an hour from Dallas in Grandview, Texas, you can live that fantasy. On a recent trip, I learned how to herd 125 longhorn cattle with the help of cowboy Spencer Allen. It's a popular side trip.

dallas beaumont ranch
Cowboy Spencer Allen shows me the ropes at Beaumont Ranch

"We get a lot of business travelers," said Allen. "There's a lot of people who will go into Dallas for a business meeting or convention and if they have a free day, a lot of them like to come out and see what we do. It's something you don't get to experience in other parts of the country or world."

Get a history lesson. On the way to or from the airport, take a small detour to Dealey Plaza, where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. A spray-painted X on the road marks the exact spot where Kennedy was killed in his motorcade. On that same road is the former Texas School Book Depository, now a museum, where Lee Harvey Oswald fired from the 6th floor. It happened more than 53 years ago, but it still felt shocking to see it up close.

EAT/DRINK

Club lounge. Another perk of having status at a hotel chain is access to the hotel club lounge. There is usually a free cocktail hour with food along with breakfast every morning.

bbq platter lockhart smokehouse dallas
Texas barbecue at Lockhart Smokehouse

BBQ dinner. If you come to Texas, you can't leave without having some BBQ. Lockhart Smokehouse is the perfect place to impress a client or indulge yourself. This no-frills joint will make you feel in-the-know and has some delicious BBQ. There's everything from brisket to turkey to ribs to macaroni and cheese... the list goes on. Order at the counter and carry your food to your table in butcher paper. I'm pretty sure eating with your hands is highly encouraged. Don't miss their condiments bar!

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