Vacation after a business trip? Try these affordable destinations

Lyon France

(CNN Business)If you don't get many days off, it's tempting to extend a business trip into a mini-vacation by adding a few extra days to your stay in a city. When you're no longer covered by an expense account, though, you'll find that many business travel destinations are far from cost-effective.

But if you escape to these nearby alternatives to some popular -- and pricey -- business destinations, the savings may make it easier to bring the family along and might score you some new passport stamps too.

Head to Lyon, France, after Geneva

    Just two hours and fewer than ten euros separate the Swiss city and Lyon, the French city renowned for dishing up some of the best food in the country.
    And yet, even with Lyon's stellar gastronomic reputation, restaurant prices are around 70% cheaper than in Geneva, making it the ideal place for savvy travelers looking to tack on some fine-but-affordable-dining to their trip.
    There are a total of 25 Michelin stars awarded to restaurants throughout the city, and many proud Lyonnais will insist that their city's food is finer than that in Paris. The city is particularly famous for its boucheries, or traditional meat-heavy bistros, and -- mais oui! -- red wine.
    Lyon is also home to a UNESCO World Heritage site, the traboules -- a series of interconnected undeground tunnels that weave past private homes and give a fascinating perspective of the city.

    Go north to Stuttgart, Germany, from Zurich

    If you love cars or architecture, don't miss the chance to head a few hours north of costly Zurich to visit Stuttgart.
    The understated German city is home to both the Mercedes-Benz and Porsche museums. The city is also home to notable buildings, from the wobbly tower in Killesbergturm to the minimal central library and the regal Solitude Palace.
    After a long week of exhausting meetings, good news -- Stuttgart also ranks among the world's least stressful places. The city's abundant, easy-to-access green space has much to do with that.

    Give Lille a chance in place of Paris

    Not only is Lille well-connected -- France's fourth biggest city is located squarely between Paris, Brussels and London -- it's also a popular university city with international appeal and coffee shops galore. It's a popular weekend spot for EU employees, and a great place to unwind after Fashion Week.
    Lille is Flemish in influence and French in practice, a combination exemplified in the architecture. While Lille may not have the immediately apparent, romanticized draw of the 'City of Lights,' it certainly makes for a convenient substitute to pricey Paris.
    Lille's border proximity means that unlike many parts of France, it has a great craft beer culture. You'll find extensive use of the region's tasty maroilles cheese along with with the bold beer selections favored further to the north.

    Consider Baltimore instead of Washington D.C.

    If you stay in one of D.C.'s central neighborhoods for a business trip, you'll find you're paying through the nose for hotels and dining. Once your work is over, consider briefly relocating to a less pricey part of the U.S. capital where you can still explore the city's many free historical attractions.
    If you're not fussed for history, venture just over an hour north to Baltimore for more affordable food, art (The American Visionary Museum is particularly impressive) and the seaside experience.
    And should you prefer not to drive, it's easy to take Amtrak between the two cities, or to fly into Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) instead of Reagan National or Dulles and connect to DC by rail.
    Nicknamed "Charm City," Baltimore is beloved for its seafood -- don't miss blue Maryland crab cakes.

    Swap Basel for Bern

    If you're exhausted from party-hopping at Art Basel, heading to the capital city is a nice way to get a taste of Switzerland without the crowds.
    While accommodation and dining will certainly set you back, transport won't be an issue. This well-preserved medieval city is easily explored on foot in no time.
    The country's well-connected transit options, from bus to train to mountainside cable car, can all be accessed via the same tourist transit card, easily available at any train station or at the airport. And with four national languages, including English, you'll find it easy to order meals and ask for directions.

    Commute from Monaco to Nice

    Mere mention of Monaco conjures up images of luxury yachts, racecars, casinos and expensive Champagne. They're all perfectly lovely, of course, but once the expense account gets cut off you'll stretch your per diem much further in nearby Nice.
    It's still the Riviera, but with more affordable options, especially if you want to bring the family, and outside of the major summer months you'll find plenty going on without the throngs of beachgoers.
      Just 20 minutes and less than ten euros away on the train, you can nail down affordable accommodation, munch on traditional socca (chickpea pancakes) and take advantage of a €10, 24-hour pass to many of the city's museums, while keeping Monaco -- a tiny nation worthy of exploration -- close by.
      The city's jewel is the Matisse Museum, as the artist Henri Matisse lived for some time in Nice. But if you never left the sand, no one would blame you.