Best Ways To Save Money When Traveling for Business
Monday, June 27, 2011
A tough economy has made many businesses, and their traveling employees, rethink how they spend travel budgets. Even if your company hasn’t put the squeeze on your expense account, it’s a good idea to watch your spending and show that you have their interests in mind. Being a conscientious traveler is sure to make a good impression no matter how your budget has changed.
At the Airport
If you’re flying to your destination, the first thing you can do to make a difference is to book early. Fares will continue to increase, as your departure date grows closer. If you can, book at least two weeks in advance to avoid price increases.
When your travel day arrives, save money by catching a ride. Parking costs add up quickly and can eat into your travel budget. If you don’t have someone who can drop you off, weigh the cost of taking a taxi from your house versus parking. Many airports also have inexpensive long-term parking with shuttles to and from the terminal. You may even be able to negotiate with some of the companies managing off-site parking and get lower rates for extended stays.
Many airlines now charge baggage fees of about $25 per checked bag. If you’re able to travel with only a carry-on bag, you’ll save on fees and not have to waste time waiting in baggage claim. If you need a larger bag, consider an airline that doesn’t charge fees, such as Southwest. Many airlines also waive baggage fees for customers who have reached a certain status in their loyalty programs.
Take Advantage of Hotel Amenities
Some hotels charge outrageous amounts for amenities such as Internet, parking and breakfast. Even if you find a low room rate, these extra fees can bring your nightly costs to that of a premium hotel. An easy way to make your company’s bean counters happy is to pick a place that includes these perks.
Every Country Inn & Suites hotel offers free hot breakfast and, in the U.S. and Canada, free high-speed Internet. That could mean a savings for a family of four of about $50 a day for choosing one of these properties over other hotels.
Avoid Car Rental “Extras”
Renting a car is more complicated than ever. Do you need insurance? A GPS? A hybrid? Extra mileage? Chances are, you’re fine answering, “No.” Check with your company administrators, but you’re likely to be covered under your company insurance and can decline additional coverage. A GPS can be convenient, but it’s usually not worth the extra cost. And most rentals include unlimited mileage, but check to be sure.
As for the type of car, it’s better to go ahead and lock in the low rate on a compact and upgrade on the spot. The low-price economy and compact classes sell out first so you may get lucky and get an automatic upgrade to the next available car class. Even if you’re not offered an upgrade, you can usually negotiate one at the service desk. You may even get one for free—it never hurts to ask!