January 9 2012 by Mike Mason
One of the most unique things about business travel is that it can take us to some really unique locations. While many of us dream about that summer vacation to Disney with the kids or a romantic getaway to Hawaii with our spouse, not many of us are planning leisurely trips to the more cultural places in America. Business travel has allowed me to travel forgotten highways in Pennsylvania, dine at roadside cafes in Iowa that can only be described as hidden gems, and most recently, took me to one of America's most renowned residences.
My most recent business assignment found me Memphis, TN. I must admit, Memphis had not been on my list of 'Must Travel' locations. I was, however, delighted to find out that I would be staying just a few miles from the famous gates of Graceland, the former Memphis residence of musical great Elvis Presley.
On my first free opportunity, I made the solo trek to Graceland. I spent the better part of the afternoon exploring the tacky but significant details of everyday life for Elvis. From his radically themed Jungle Room, adorned in gaudy green shag carpet, to his stunning private jet, the "Lisa Marie", I was able to immerse myself in a slice of what everyday life was like for Elvis in the late 1970's.
The tour is a constant reminder about life in the 1970's, with old television sets, throwback furniture, and outdated appliances around almost every corner. Most impressive, however, is the sense of significance and impact from Elvis that is felt throughout the tour. His Trophy Room is adorned with impressive memorabilia and photographs that show the span of his career and many of his accomplishments. The most moving and powerful stop on the tour was at its conclusion in the Meditation Garden, where guests could stop and pay their respects to Elvis at his burial site. It was an opportunity to not only see the final resting place of The King, but to congregate with folks from all over the world and share stories of how they ended up at Graceland. It was a truly awesome experience.
My most recent trip to Graceland was a tremendous opportunity to use business travel as a great way to explore the country and visit an attraction and I wouldn't ordinarily have dedicated a trip to. It was a generous reminder that time on the road for business can often be turned into that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore a destination that I would have otherwise never seen.
Do you have any stories of how you have turned work travel into an opportunity to explore a new or unique destination?