Chances are, one of the biggest reasons you gravitated to a home-based business is to avoid traveling to an office day after day. Given this reality, why on earth would you want to make a business trip?
Unfortunately, there are times when seeing clients face to face is markedly preferable to Skyping or GoToMeetings – or maybe your business growth largely depends on a presence at that annual conference or trade show. Even if you have to travel for business, there are still some ways you can save some money in the process.
Here are 10 suggestions:
1. Don’t wait until the last minute. If you know about a conference coming up, make your plans sooner rather than later. You’ll probably get better deals on flights than you would if you waited until the week before the event.
2. Use travel websites. Travelocity, Orbitz, and Kayak aren’t just for vacations anymore. Spending some time on these sites can yield a great rate on cheap hotels, airfare, and car rentals for business travel as well.
3. Stay an extra day. Many flights are priced so if you fly back a day later (like on Sunday instead of Saturday), you benefit from a major discount on your airfare. And it doesn’t cost you anything to explore this option.
4. Be smart with luggage. For quick trips, carrying on all your baggage is preferred. If this is not possible, find a way to avoid paying bag check fees, like using a certain credit card to book the flight or flying on a “no bag fee” airline.
5. Consider regional airports. Often, the lesser-profile regional airports can save you a ton of money over flying into a major international airport. So be sure to expand your search accordingly when booking your flight.
6. Find the right airport transfer service. In almost every city, you’ll find a flat-rate airport car service that costs less than a cab ride. Plus, during your ride you’ll probably sit in a luxury car instead of an old cab.
7. Seek out hotel freebies. Do your best to book accommodations at a hotel with complimentary amenities, like free Internet or breakfasts. This will help you avoid hidden costs that make business travel outrageously expensive.
8. Stay at a hotel with a kitchenette. If you’re staying a few nights in one spot, having the ability to cook your own meals in your room can reduce your expenses versus if you had to eat every meal at a restaurant.
9. Opt for lunch, not dinner. If you have to entertain clients, set up a lunch meeting rather than dinner if you’re picking up the tab. Lunch prices are often less costly, and your clients aren’t as likely to order expensive cocktails.
10. Leverage rewards. Be sure to put all your expenses on one credit card. Not only does this simplify bookkeeping, but it helps you earn rewards points faster – which can lead to substantial savings on your next business trip.
There may be times where business trips are unavoidable. But there’s no rule that says you have to shell out corporate-account cash in order to finance them.
Chris Martin is a freelance writer who writes about topics ranging from online reputation management to entrepreneurship to business finance solutions.