Travelling for business can be an expensive an business! From flights to hotels to car hire and everything in between, the costs can soon stack up. If you're a regular business traveller, you might think you already do everything possible to save money. Here are eight travel hacks that you might not have thought of yet.
1. Book directly
Many companies give corporate discounts, but you won't find out unless you call them directly and ask. Most airlines, major hotels and car rental companies offer corporate discount programmes and some are up to 25% discount - but you won't see these if you book online through a third party. It pays to call up and sweet talk the operator directly!
2. Use a flexible date airfare search - and maybe stay another day!
If you have no luck obtaining corporate discount for your flight, consider a flexible date airfare search. Once you've found a cheap flight, contact the person you're meeting and see if you can reschedule your meeting to fit in with the cheaper flight. It may well work out cheaper for you to stay an extra day before flying home, so you'll have time for extra meetings - or perhaps some sightseeing!
3. Join rewards schemes
These days almost every company has a rewards scheme where you can save up points or miles to pay for further travel. Many also offer discounts to members of their schemes. By joining every scheme available, you can shop around and still earn points or rewards while getting the best possible price. Many airlines have frequent flyer programmes and all sorts of rewards and benefits. You can then save up your reward points to get free flights and other benefits.
4. Never check-in your luggage
When you check your luggage you can often end up with unexpected charges. With smart packing and a good bag (like ours!), you can fit everything into your hand luggage. Some airlines will also let you take a second item on board as hand luggage. This tip has an added bonus in that you'll also not lose valuable time waiting for your (probably lost) luggage at the other end! Research hand luggage allowances before travelling to see just how much you can take with you.
5. Don't park at the airport
These days airports make more from our parking and shopping than they do from the actual planes. A quick look online can help you to lower your parking costs dramatically. Check out this article on Money Saving Expert for links to parking websites with extra discounts - or you could just catch the train or pre-book a taxi! Whatever you do, don't leave your car in the airport car park while you're away; it's a waste of money.
6. Question whether you really need to travel
These days you can attend a meeting via Skype or Google Hangouts and get such good sound and video quality, it's as if you were in the room - but without the jet lag. There are new apps and gadgets coming out all the time which allow us to connect with business contacts all over the globe without leaving our desks. The most obvious is Whats App, but many businesses are now looking at apps like Slack and Zinc which allow you to share video, files and audio between group members. This can be a great way to get things done without having to travel around the world to do it. All you need is Wifi!
7. Avoid alterations
If you can possibly avoid it, don't alter your itinerary once you've booked. Many companies and airlines will charge you to make even the slightest change to your booking. If you can live with the original travel details, take a deep breath and deal with it.
8. Combine trips where possible
It takes a little more organising, but if you have two or three clients to meet, consider organising meetings either all in the same place, or one after the other so that you can make one round trip rather than several shorter trips. It might seem like a real nuisance, but the savings can really pay off. You can always get in touch with business contacts in the relevant locations, tell them you'll be in the area and suggest a catch-up meeting. Think of it like going backpacking, but grown-up style, and without the dread locks!
Travelling for business can be costly and time consuming. Unsurprisingly, it pays to spend a little more time shopping around and investigating deals and you can really save a fair amount of money by doing this. What's the biggest business travel saving you've ever made?