An unnerving practice is eroding the joy and discovery of visiting new places (or returning to old favorites). It’s known as “business travel,” and it has become so pervasive that more and more work-obsessed souls feel guilty if they take a trip purely for pleasure.

girl at Key West's Smathers Beach

Reagan Fountain is “dressed for success” in a sundress and sandals on Key West’s Smathers Beach.

Frankly, that’s a miserable state of affairs. Traveling should be an escape from “real-world” business pressures, and an unstructured interval to remember that personal priorities are WAY more self-defining than professional ones.

If you’re one of those people who can’t let go of your business-first mindset, please consider these three “transitional” guidelines to ease your guilt during a pleasure trip to Key West. (The guidelines’ seemingly businesslike approach might seem familiar, but beware — the suggestions are sneakily designed to induce enjoyment.)

How to Dress for Success: Even bank presidents rarely wear suits and ties in Key West — this is a city where dressing up means unearthing your “formal flip-flops” from the back of the closet.

Bring shorts or sundresses, a swimsuit to wear when snorkeling the coral reef that parallels the Florida Keys, and a sweater or light jacket for those breezy evenings.

Ladies, do not even consider packing pantyhose. Rumor has it that such barbaric articles of clothing are confiscated at the city limits.

Where to Conduct a ‘Power Lunch’: In Key West, the power to relax is prized above all — and a prime site for relaxation-seeking seafood lovers is the Hogfish Bar & Grill, a hard-to-find hideaway on neighboring Stock Island.

Most diners at the funky locals’ watering hole prefer to sit outdoors at weathered picnic tables, overlooking picturesque houseboats and sailboats moored at the adjacent docks.

hogfish sandwich Florida Keys

At the renowned Hogfish on Stock Island, the signature dish is … hogfish! A “killer hogfish” sandwich is the perfect power lunch.

The restaurant’s signature dish is hogfish, a diver–caught fish with a light yet flavorful taste, but all kinds of Keys seafood is served including a world-class smoked-fish dip. For directions (because the Hogfish really IS hard to find), click here.

Top Networking Spots: Networking in Key West often means connecting with an expert fishing guide or low-key literary legend instead of a corporate contact. Highly recommended for such pursuits is the Afterdeck Bar at Louie’s Backyard, an upscale open-air spot on the Atlantic Ocean where local personalities and visiting celebrities gather to share tall tales and cocktails.

Tucked into a quiet neighborhood, Louie’s itself is a gourmet restaurant in a restored historic home — ideal for an unforgettable dinner. For details and reservation info, click here.

Probably the most important “business traveler” in Key West history was former President Harry S. Truman, who spent approximately six months of his 1945-1952 administration at a sprawling residence dubbed the Little White House.

Truman used his sojourns on the island to review and revise policies, hold significant meetings and make important decisions away from the pressures of Washington D.C. Setting an example for future visitors, he also relaxed in Key West — abandoning his customary presidential attire for casual garb, and spending plenty of time at his treasured piano and poker table.

Presidents of Armenia and Azarbaijan in Key West

The presidents of Armenia (left) and Azerbaijan relax in Key West during peace talks between their two countries. (Photo by Andy Newman, Florida Keys News Bureau)

Today the Little White House is meticulously restored and open for tours as Florida’s only presidential museum. When you explore it, you’ll find the piano and poker table placed as prominently as they were in Truman’s day.

Of course, if you absolutely HAVE to select a spot for an important business meeting, Key West should top your list of prospective locales. Business travelers will find 21st-century technology and services in the island city, paired with a chance for some downtime to escape those “real-world” stresses.

The combination is so conducive to successful gatherings that, some 20 years ago, the U.S. State Department chose the island as the setting for landmark peace talks between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan. The two warring leaders, who hadn’t met face-to-face in years, ended up sharing a tall-ship cruise at sunset.

Now THAT’S business travel … with a Key West twist.