From the July 1996 issue of Entrepreneur

Squeezing in a few long weekends a year is often the closest entrepreneurs get to a vacation. But can these miniholidays relieve business stress? Yes, say the experts-especially if they are fantasy vacations.

It's for that reason, perhaps, that entrepreneurs are turning to sports weekends, says Steven Wilson, vice president of Sports Tours Inc., a Hatfield, Massachusetts, company that books spectator sporting event trips (including air fare, hotel, rental car and great tickets to the game) for passionate sports fans with no time to plan vacations themselves.

Ron Ferron, owner of Center Machine Inc., a 12-person Ludlow, Massachusetts, company that makes machinery parts, is just such a person. An avid fan of the University of Massachusetts basketball team, Ferron would follow them just about anywhere-if he had the time. Last December when the Minutemen were playing in the Hawaiian Classic, Ferron called Sports Tours a week before the tournament, asking if they could book a trip for him and his wife to Hawaii and get them tickets for the team's three games. "They took care of everything in a couple of days," says Ferron.

While people are now interested in baseball road trips to watch the boys of summer do their stuff at some of the nation's greatest ballparks, Wilson says, attention will soon shift to professional and college football weekends and the January 27 Super Bowl in New Orleans. For more information, call Sports Tours at (800) 722-7701.

Cruise Control

Whether you're commuting by train or car, the evening trip home can be productive. Use the time to destress from a hard day at the office with these exercises:

Breathe deeply. To a slow count of eight, inhale slowly, hold your breath, and exhale slowly. Repeat as many times as needed.

Shoulder squeezes. Keeping the rest of your body relaxed, shrug your shoulders up to your ears. Drop them; pause and relax. Repeat as necessary.

Sleep it off. Try a five-minute nap (only if you're a passenger, of course). Step 1: With eyes open, begin counting to 10, closing your eyes very slowly as you count. Step 2: When your eyelids are shut, say to yourself, "I am resting and dozing." Count to 10 in this closed-eye position. Step 3: Open your eyes very slowly. When they're fully open, say to yourself, "I'm still resting and dozing." Step 4: Repeat steps 1, 2 and 3 for about five minutes. Then blink your eyes quickly 10 to 20 times, and then say to yourself, "I am fully awake now."

Walk it off. Stride quickly around the parking lot before getting into your car to head home. If you're commuting by bus or train, get off one stop before your usual and walk the rest of the way home briskly.

Or take a slow stroll and enjoy the sights and sounds of the evening-a great way to forget the demands of business.

Kids' Stuff

Even if the kids don't ask "What did you bring me?" the minute you return from a business trip, it's nice to be able to pull a gift out of your luggage-something inexpensive and easy to transport.

Many parents use their business trips to start children on collections of mugs, buttons, pennants, city magazines, maps, key chains, posters or T-shirts. It's a great way to satisfy kids' squirreling instincts.

Posters and maps make good wall coverings, mugs from different states can be lined up and used as containers for the infinite junk items kids amass, and T-shirts are always in style and necessary. A sports enthusiast will love college pennants featuring a favorite sport team-and probably be fascinated enough to follow the team's accomplishments in the newspaper and locate the college on a map.

Each of these items can be bought at a hotel or airport, so you don't have to spend any time rushing around the city looking for a shop. And children look forward to getting these mementos, which become tokens of your relationship.