Domestic business travel costs businesses approximately $112 billion annually.1 For some businesses it’s a necessity, while others use it to build client relationships. Traveling for business gives you the opportunity to expand your business, meet your peers and get to know a new city! It’s no wonder businesses choose to conduct business on the road.
While productive, the price tag that accompanies business trips can challenge their value and make any small business owner question whether the cost is worth the potential professional prospects. We’ve found some of the best ways to save before, during and after your business trip. These small ways to avoid costs can add up to big savings!
Clear your cookies each time you search. Online businesses may place cookies on you to track your purchasing process. This can be convenient when you’re buying clothes, forget to complete the purchase and want to easily find the product again. Cookies can be bad when airlines and booking engines use them to show potentially higher airfares on the routes you have recently searched.
Travel with a carry-on only. Not only will you save time before and after your flight, you will save an average of $50 with most domestic carriers.
Opt for less-preferred airline for short flights. If you’re just hopping from one city to the next, consider compromising your comfort for cheaper airfare. Spirit, the most hated airline in the U.S., is also one of the most thriving airlines because of their discounts prices.2
Manage your car wisely. If you can avoid it, skip on-site parking at the airport — it is usually the most expensive option. If you have time to spare, off-site parking has competitive pricing that could save you up to 70%.2
Save on hotels. Sometimes it is cheaper to book through a hotel website rather than an online booking agent. In fact, many pre-packaged deals aimed at business travelers (free breakfast, expedited check-in, free Wi-Fi, room upgrades, free newspapers, etc.) are only available through the hotel website, so check there first.
Groupon is your friend. Groupon, the deals website, has many “Getaway” deals to choose from. While intended for vacations rather than business trips, a good deal is a good deal. There are also many airport transit deals available as well. Just be cautious — many deals have blackout dates and may not be convenient for your intended journey.
Be loyal and collect points. If you travel frequently, commit to your favorite brand. The travel market is competitive, so major brands will go above and beyond to spoil their loyal customers. Think free miles, access to free food in airport lounges, free hotel rooms, free Wi-Fi access and more.
Check the map. The cheapest hotel may seem practical, but it is probably cheap for a reason. If it’s an hour from your business meeting, you’ll probably make up the difference in cab fare (or even pay more).
Get appy. Load your phone with all the essential apps for traveling to minimize the amount of paperwork you have to carry. Think mobile boarding passes, Apple Pay, public transit map apps and more.
Pack essentials in your carry-on. If you must check a bag, include the items you cannot be without in your carry-on. Airline baggage carriers mishandle almost 22 million bags every year.3 Don’t get caught without the things you need to make the business part of your business trip successful.
Ship large items ahead. If your essential supplies exceed that of a carry-on, you might be better off shipping your tools ahead of you. Cross-check the weight of the item with the shipping cost. It might actually be cheaper to check it in a bag. Otherwise, ship ahead to your hotel for a more low-maintenance approach.
Keep customer service numbers from check-in. Hopefully, you won’t need to use them, but it’s always good to have them handy just in case.
Question rental car insurance. Depending on your insurance policy, you may already be covered no matter what car you are driving and may not need the extra insurance rental car companies offer. Certain credit cards will also extend free coverage, so check first — you could save an average of $20/day.2
Choose Uber over taxis. Uber, now available in hundreds of cities across the U.S. as well as internationally, is often cheaper than a taxi and doesn’t require a tip. Note that some cities will slap on an airport tax, Uber or not, so check before you request an Uber.
Make money while you travel. Rent your car out while you’re traveling. Services like FlightCar give you the opportunity to not only save on the airport parking fees, but you’ll actually make money in rental car earnings.
Take advantage of complimentary breakfast. Many hotels geared towards business travelers serve free breakfast. Have a filling breakfast or bring a piece of fruit with you as a snack so you can have a lighter lunch and save.
Make your lunch the big meal of the day. If you don’t have a complimentary breakfast available, have a granola bar or something frugal for breakfast, then a large lunch, followed by a smaller dinner. When you dine out, dinner usually costs more than lunch even if portion sizes are around the same.
Long trips mean long-term meal ideas. If you’re traveling for several days or more, consider swinging by the local grocery store. A box of cereal, milk, bread, lunch meat and a bag of apples can cover breakfast and lunch for a week for less than $20.
Aim for two birds, one stone. Do you have other clients or potential clients in the same destination? Make the most of your trip by setting up a casual coffee or swing by the office just to say hi, even if you don’t have anything formally prepared. If your business occurs mostly online, this small amount of face time can be invaluable.
Alleviate travel stiffness. Hours in a plane, train or car can leave your body feeling sore. Bring a tennis ball to massage the arches of your feet, back of your thighs and other areas of the body for free.
Be aware of cellular service. Depending on where you’re traveling, you may have poor cellular service that will force you in to roaming mode. Pay careful attention when traveling internationally as the fees can be exponentially larger. When in doubt, connect to Wi-Fi or purchase a cheap pay-as-you-go phone.
Take advantage of meal deductibles. The IRS allows you tax breaks on your business meals using a per diem rate. Keep your receipts and visit the General Services Administration to find out what your allowance is.2
Standard mileage rate means more for you. If you use your car for business purposes, you may save on your taxes, especially if you have an economical vehicle. The standard rate for 2015 was 57.5 cents per mile.2
Track your progress. After your trip is complete, check in on the rewards you accumulated before you book your next trip. If you have multiple loyalty programs, sync them all on tracking sites like AwardWallet.
Recover from jet lag. Everyone reacts to jet lag differently, but there are a couple tried-and-true methods to help beat it.
- Stay hydrated and avoid alcohol or excessive caffeine
- Eat sensibly and avoid heavy meals
- Use melatonin to help you get to sleep if needed
Reflect on your trip. Look back at what you accomplished throughout the duration of your trip and consider the following:
- Could I have done anything more efficiently on this trip?
- Did this trip accomplish something that I could have done via Skype or other chat technology?
- If I need to return, what could I do better to have a more effective business trip?
Your trip could have been a massive success without any issues, but like any business decision, you need to evaluate your potential return on investment.
Get back up to speed. Whether you were out of the office for a single day or an entire month, there will be a lot to catch up on. Time is money; can you afford to fall behind? First things first, write up notes and expense reports for your trip. There may be pressing matters in the office, but if you get too swept up in what you missed, you may forget what you achieved while you were gone. Once you’re done, be efficient and address your emails one at a time. It may seem tedious, but studies have shown that multitasking is far less efficient than staying committed to one task through completion. 2