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10 Ways to Cut Costs During Business Travel

Updated on October 30, 2012

Do you end up spending more money during business travel than you had planned to? Many people do. Although business travel is supposed to be cheap or free for the employee, it often ends up costing money out of pocket. The following tips will help to keep costs down for you if you’re traveling for business.

1.     Learn what you can expense before you go. Make sure that you are very clear in advance of the trip about what the company will and won’t pay for. Are they just paying for your hotel and airfare? Do they pay your taxi or subway costs? Will they cover any meals? If you know, for example, that your employer will cover $50 of meals per day then sticking inside of that limitation will mean that you don’t spend any extra money of your own. You need that information in advance that.

2.     Track every single expense and keep your receipts. It’s a hassle to have to ask the cabbie for a receipt for your $6 cab ride. However, it’s those little things that add up. You can save yourself a lot of money on business travel over the years if you make sure to track expenses and turn receipts in to your employer for every single expense that the employer is supposed to covering the cost of.

3.     Make sure you use the services that are provided to you for free. For example, many business travelers are able to take a free shuttle from the airport to their hotels. Some fail to do so because they would prefer to take a cab. The cab costs money but the shuttle does not. Making sure to use the services that are available instead of the services that will cost you will help to keep costs down considerably.

4.     Eat on the cheap. It’s so tempting to eat delicious expensive meals when you’re traveling for business. There are new restaurants to try. The hotel’s restaurant is so close to where you are (and so easy to find). Room service sound so convenient after you’ve been traveling all day for work. However, these costs add up. Spend the minimum that you can spend on food costs when traveling. Try to get in the habit of going to the grocery store when you first arrive for business travel so that you can get foods at a low cost to snack on in your own room.

5.     Eat the free food at your hotel. There is almost always some type of free food or beverages at your hotel. Eating this will cut back costs even further. For example, choosing the free coffee in the lobby is going to be a lot better on your travel budget than stopping to get the $5 coffee at the spot near the convention that you’re attending.

6.     See the free attractions. Are you the type of business traveler who likes to fit some sightseeing into a quick trip? If so then you almost certainly go to only the most famous landmarks and attractions in an area. You want to hit the highlights but these end up costing you a lot of money and you may not even have the downtime to truly enjoy them. Skip these and instead do some research in advance to find out what free local sites and attractions are in the area. Visiting these will make your business trip more interesting and keep your costs low.

7.     Work and network during your downtime. Better than seeing the sights during your business travel is to earn money during your downtime. Use this time to get some additional work done, generating sales leads or doing some creative brainstorming for the job. Alternatively, find places and events where you can do some local networking to generate new business leads and connections that might financially benefit you in the future.

8.     Choose hotels with the right free amenities. If you get to play a part in selecting your own hotel for business travel then you want to start thinking about selecting the right amenities to keep costs down. For example, if you work out during business travel then you need a free gym or pool. If you are going to need to fax, print and copy during the stay then you need to make sure that your hotel has a free business center. The amenities that are covered by the hotel are amenities that won’t have to come out of your own pocket during your trip.

9.     Make a checklist of the tech items that you must bring with you on every trip. One business expense that often comes up for people is that they unexpectedly have to buy tech supplies during a trip because they forget theirs at home. For example, you forget your phone charger and you have to charge your phone because you need it for working at this new location so you have to go out and waste money on a brand new phone charger. Avoid these costs by making a checklist of all of the things that you need to bring with you on each trip and checking it off before every travel experience. A checklist of the specific business clothing and supplies you need isn’t a bad idea either. You shouldn’t be buying these things on trips.

10. Skip the souvenirs. It’s so tempting to feel the need to bring souvenirs home from your business trips. You feel guilty about spending so much time away from your family so you buy them things from each destination to let them know that you’re thinking about them. Instead, take pictures, call them from the road and spend quality time with them when you get home. Those things mean more than the souvenirs do – and you’ll save a lot of wasted money.


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  • profile image

    Drew 7 years ago

    I've got a couple of other tips that I've found effective:

    Accommodation: It's always a good idea to look at alternatives to hotels. Consider bed and breakfasts, hostels, serviced apartments (see if you're not familiar with those) if they'll serve your purpose. Hotels are not the only option and they're certainly not the cheapest.

    Taxis/car rentals. No taxis. Use public transport if it's not within walking distance. If it's in walking distance, walk. And if you simply must rent a car, just rent it, don't opt for all the extras as well.

  • artrush73 profile image

    artrush73 7 years ago

    Great tips :) that's the way to save money :) (,,)