Traveling is often a necessary part of business, and while the US economy is steadily recovering from the Great Recession, it is still an uphill battle, especially for smaller companies. And with so many expenses necessary to run a business, including rent, employee wages, telephone and utility costs, equipment, supplies, and advertising fees, many companies often struggle to stay afloat and, therefore, look to save money wherever possible.
One good place to start is by cutting their business travel costs – here’s how.
See Also: 10 Ways to Travel the World on a Budget
1. Book Early
Granted, most business trips are arranged at the last minute, but if you know well ahead of time that you’ll have to travel abroad (or even to a different state) for an important business meeting, making all the necessary travel arrangements as soon as possible is your priority.
We all know that the earlier we book our flights, the cheaper they’ll be. And there’s now scientific research to back that claim up. Airlines Reporting Corporation found that the lowest average ticket price for domestic flights can be found 57 days in advance and 171 days for international flights. Remember to fly in economy class or with a budget airline, and maybe even sign up for a frequent flyer program to take advantage of special discounts and rewards. The same applies for accommodation, and sites like lastminute.com are an excellent resource.
2. Travel Light
One trap many of us have fallen into is flying with checked baggage. While some airlines will allow passengers to take one checked bag with them for free and then charge an extortionate amount of money for the second bag, other airlines will charge for just one checked bag. The lesson here? Avoid checked baggage altogether, especially if you’ll only be away for a couple of days.
Not only will you save money by not checking in any bags (and paying any penalty fees for exceeding weight restrictions – another trap many of us have fallen into), but you’ll also avoid wasting valuable time hanging around the baggage carousel waiting for your bags.
3. Eat Smart
We all need to eat but, unfortunately, food can be extremely expensive in certain destinations. Obviously, you can’t starve yourself for the entire duration of your trip, so there’s only one solution here: eat cheap.
Make sure you book yourself a hotel that provides free breakfast or that offers a great deal with full board service. Also, avoid ordering room service and, whatever you do, stay away from the minibar – some hotels will even charge you for storing your own food and drink in your room’s refrigerator (remember, it’s the 21st century, meaning most of today’s hotels have sensors in their minibars).
Another great way to cut business travel costs is to visit the local grocery store and pick up sandwiches, snacks, and drinks or look online for cheap eateries in the neighborhood.
4. Don’t Use Your Phone
This is perhaps the worst mistake anyone can make when traveling abroad. While we are so used to being connected to the world 24/7, seven days a week, we often fail to realize that staying connected when we’re away from home can be expensive, to say the least.
Today, just about every hotel, café, bar, restaurant, and everything else in between offers free Wi-Fi, so make sure you take advantage of this. You’ll be able to read e-mails, Skype with coworkers back at home, update your Facebook status, and even call your family and friends with free apps like Viber, without worrying about breaking the bank.
5. Try to Avoid Renting a Car
One of the main things we look forward to about going on vacation is the fact that we won’t have to navigate the maddening traffic we do five days a week back home. And while business travel isn’t exactly a vacation, you still don’t want to find yourself inching along a foreign highway and run the risk of being late for an important meeting with a VIP client and potentially ruin your chances of closing a million-dollar deal.
If you want to avoid the stress that comes with being stuck in traffic and worrying about the repercussions your career might face due to an unhappy client, you might want to decide against renting a car and instead opt for public transport. Not only will you save money on rental fees, gas, insurance, and parking, but you’ll also be able to enjoy the view and do some sightseeing.
Of course, some business trips will require you to rent a car, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to cut your business costs. For one, instead of renting cars from well-known (and, obviously, pricier) companies, seek out smaller companies further away from the airport. Also, you might want to consider signing up for a frequent rental program if you travel regularly for work.
6. Consider Whether You Really Need to Travel
It’s the Internet Age, meaning we have access to some of the greatest apps and software like Skype to conduct business meetings, and even job interviews. Unlike 20 years ago when traveling for work was a necessity, it can now often be avoided thanks to technology.
Naturally, if you’re in talks with a wealthy businessman to get him to fund your newest business venture, you’ll have to conduct any meetings and presentations in person – even if that comes with a hefty travel price tag. But, if you’re considering traveling for something as simple as asking for a client’s permission to perform a task as part of an ongoing project, a plethora of video conferencing tools can help you dramatically reduce business travel costs.
What have you done to reduce business travel costs? Tell us in the comments section below, and don’t forget to share this article with fellow entrepreneurs looking to save a buck or two on their business travel expenses!