Photo: Palolem Beach, Goa by Kristin Zibell 

When you travel for business, it’s easy to let meetings and deadlines dominate. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Experience seekers—we count ourselves among them—aren’t always on vacation (in fact, we know that our readers travel for business many times a year), and aren’t looking to “escape.” Even when bouncing from conference calls to meeting rooms, there are ways to gain a better understanding of culture and place if you take the time to notice, to wander, to ask. And that’s why we’ve created The AFAR Guide to Business Travel.

It’s a different kind of business travel guide. It doesn’t talk about what gadgets you need (other than a tennis ball). It doesn’t delve into the merits of this airport lounge over that one. If that stuff is important to you, you can find it anywhere. What’s important to us, as experience-seeking business travelers, is that spark of creativity that travel can provide, and that can fuel innovation.

Travel is about connecting with people, immersing yourself in the culture, and developing deeper, richer, and more meaningful perspectives. This experiential approach to travel nourishes our creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, and ability to think about life’s challenges and opportunities in powerful ways. Ideas sparked on the road lead to the birth of world-changing businesses. You don’t have to search too far to hear founders talk about the role travel plays for them in starting companies. Just ask folks like Marc Benioff of Salesforce, Jessica Jackley of Kiva, or Blake Mycoskie of TOMS. Those companies were started because of experiences they had while traveling.

And that goes for AFAR too. While Greg and I were traveling in 2007, the idea for AFAR was born. We were sitting on a beach in Goa reflecting on the incredible five weeks we had just spent in India. We met amazing people, were welcomed into their homes and businesses, and really got beneath the surface. It started with a simple question over a couple of Kingfisher beers—“Why aren’t any of the major travel media companies talking about travel this way?” If it wasn’t for that trip to India, AFAR might never have been.

As we state in our introduction to the AFAR Guide to Business Travel, “Remember always that connecting with people and striving to understand the culture is a surefire way to derive deeper understanding, grow your network, and spark potentially life-changing ideas.” Leave the tie and the briefcase in the hotel room, get out there, and try something new. I bet you’ll emerge with reasons to come back, wherever you are.