There are airfares and rental cars, hotels and meals in restaurants. When you travel you pay cab fares and inflated exchange rates and tips, tips, tips everywhere you go.
So what is the single best way to save money on traveling? Don’t do it! Stay at your office. (Next week I will talk about saving money by taking a staycation, where you vacation in your home. For today, the money savings tips to follow apply to business as well as personal and vacation travel.)
Save Money by Not Traveling
Work from your office. Modern telecommunications technology make it possible to get almost all the benefits of going to see a client without any of the cost. These days you can phone and video conference with ease and efficiency. You can share documents, computer screens and have multiple participants from all over the world all in the same virtual conference room.
Skype is all the rage in business communications these days. Skype, for free, allows you to video conference around the world. All you need is a web cam and the software which you can download from Skype at no cost. The webcam is probably built right into your laptop. Most have them these days. You can use Skype to text and for voice only as well. There are options available that will allow you to record your Skype conversations too.
Google+ Hangouts is another option for video conversations.
Sometime, however, there is no substitute for going to see a client face-to-face. At times the relationship just depends on it. If that is the case, there are almost as many ways to save money as there are to spend it.
Money Saving Travel Tips
Here are just a few of the ways that I have used, or that I have known others to use, to save money when they travel.
First, be loyal and watch those loyalty points add up. This applies to both your business and personal travel. You can rack up serious discounts and savings when you stick with one hotel chain or airline group. For years I constantly got free nights stays through my Starwood Preferred membership. I accumulated hotel points, car rentals and airline miles into one account.
Eventually I reached their Platinum level, which gave me three times the points as at their introductory level. At this point I was getting constant free room, and even paid all the hotel costs on a trip to Thailand once. I could also book the cheapest room and be upgraded for free. The free newspapers were great and I got a lot of free food in their free executive lounges.
I know business people who have credit cards that offer travel rewards as well. They will put entire marketing campaigns on these cards, pay off the cards each month as the invoice arrives, and accumulate huge free travel for their efforts.
Extended Stay Hotels Cut Food Costs
Another great way to save money while traveling, again for business or pleasure, is to stay at extended stay hotels. You do not have to stay for long. They don’t care. The bonus to the extended stay is the kitchen that is in each room. You can cook your own meals and save going out to all those overpriced restaurants. The food you make can be a lot more nutritious than you would get at a Burger King too.
Any time you travel, a little humility and discomfort can save you money. You should resist that urge to splurge. Don’t fly first class. Not that many of us do these days. Resist business class too, especially on short flights. Business class should only be an option if you are flying overseas and someone else is paying for it.
When booking your travel, you can save by contacting a good old fashioned travel agent. While they are very out-of-style, they still have some surprising discounts available. Perhaps they have these discounts because they are so out-of-style.
When booking your travel arrangements, ask for corporate discounts. Most major hotels, car rental agencies and airlines have them. You may not be a big corporation, but you are in business. You may qualify and it can’t hurt to ask. The worst they can do is say no.
As an alternative to the travel agent use an online booking site such as Kayak or Expedia for planes, hotels and car rentals. They will bundle services, like legs of flights, from different carriers in ways you would never find on your own. This can save you tons of money.
Take the Train
Check out train fares. They could well be less expensive than airfares. Travel by train also saves the hassle of airports and the TSA. They don’t search you to take a train, yet.
When you travel internationally, be very aware of exchange rates, particularly in tourist areas. All those kiosks that advertise, “No fee” are making their profit by giving you a terrible exchange rate. Often the best rate can be found at an ATM. Get the cash you need in local currency straight from your account. Almost every ATM in the world these days is connected to your network somehow. And your bank is getting a great exchange rate because of the quantity of currency that it is exchanging.
More Money Saving Ideas
Other money saving travel ideas include:
- Try flying to regional airports. There are airlines that used this trick to make their starts.
- Don’t pay luggage fees. Only pack what you can carry on.
- Eat the complimentary breakfast. It may resemble cardboard but it does have some nutrition.
- Don’t use the hotels laundry service, and
- Find credit cards without international transaction fees. They do exist.
- Don’t trust just the established online booking sites, try newer ones such as WhichBudget and AttitudeTravel too.
With a little thought and planning travel can be less expensive. Although I have yet to find a way around tips, short of being rude.