The following is a guest blog post:
For most companies, the days of unlimited employee travel expenses are over. If you are traveling for work, you are most likely working with a fairly tight budget. While there are plenty of guides for budget travel, traveling for business comes with different considerations than vacation travel. Instead of looking for the coolest free landmarks, you’re on the search for cost-conscious lodging with reliable Wi-Fi so that you can work at night. Here are five tips specifically for business trips that will help keep you within your travel budget.
1. Pick Your Cellular Plan with Travel in Mind
Purchasing in-flight Wi-Fi for every flight can be budget-buster, but air time is valuable work time. Choose a cell plan that offers free in-flight Wi-Fi and other travel perks. A good option is T-Mobile, which gives customers an hour of free Wi-Fi, unlimited in-flight texting, picture messaging and access to Visual Voicemail on Gogo wireless enabled flights. For trips to areas with spotty coverage or travel abroad, save money on roaming and international calling charges with a wireless calling-enabled smartphone.
2. Take Clients to Lunch Instead of Dinner
If your travel includes client meals, you don’t want to skimp too much on location, but scheduling meetings for lunch instead of dinner can save a lot of money. People tend to eat lighter at lunch, the menu is often reduced and alcohol is generally not included. Do a little bit of research, nicer restaurants that are not in business districts (so don’t have much business lunch traffic) will often offer deals at lunch and may prove a quieter environment for meetings.
3. Schedule Travel Strategically
If the timing of your travel is flexible, avoid traveling at peak times. For most destinations, summer and spring break will always be more expensive for airfare. Flying during the week will save money over weekend travel. Finally, scheduling travel at least eight days in advance can help save, on average, $148 a ticket.
4. Explore Lodging Alternatives
A decent quality business travel hotel may often be your best bet for lodging. They generally offer amenities that appeal to business travelers — like reliable internet, business centers, gyms, complimentary breakfasts, etc. Forbes magazine named the Hyatt chain as one of the best for business travelers, noting that it has an excellent rewards program and properties at a variety of price points all over the world. For some trips, though, lodging through a site like Airbnb or VRBO might be more cost-effective. Not only can you sometimes get a better deal, particularly for long-term trips, but you will generally be able to save money on things like parking or by cooking your own meals.
5. Compare Transportation Costs at Your Destination
Compare costs for transportation at your destination. Instead of taking taxis or car services, it may be more cost effective to rent a car (or vice versa), or it might make sense to use mass transit.
Above all, the best way to stay within your budget with business travel is to plan ahead and do your research. Use the resources available at your company, whether that is someone who has traveled to the destination before or an in-house travel agent.