If your upcoming travel includes a trip for business (or even for family vacations!), be sure to consider these tips for low-hassle, low-cost travel. A little planning can make your travel cheaper with less hassle too:
- Sign up for cloud email and documents.
No more thumb drives or syncing devices upon your return. The beauty of the cloud is that you can easily carry your emails, photos, graphics and documents along with you. Everything is available in one place upon your return, no matter which device you use.
- Use noise cancelling earphones.
Earphones that limit outside noise let you work no matter how many cranky babies are seated around you on the plane or how many decibels are in that airport coffee shop. More importantly, they reduce noise-related stress.
- Consider alternative methods of ground transportation.
Services like Uber and Lyft are a good alternative to taxi cabs and rental cars in many cities. It can save money and it may be a convenient option in locations that lack good taxi service or where you don’t need a rental car. You use a mobile app to request a pickup so the convenience factor can be helpful.
- Lunch is cheaper—make it your main meal.
At most restaurants lunch is considerably cheaper than dinner. Eating a big lunch late in the afternoon may save you money—especially over a week’s travel. Skip the evening meal with just a snack to tide you over.
- Hit grocery stores instead of restaurants.
Who says you always have to eat in restaurants when traveling? Eating grocery store food instead of restaurant food can be cheaper and healthier. Price savvy travelers and those who watch their diets carefully look for nearby grocery stores. Buying food there instead of going to an often overpriced restaurant and taking it back to your room or to a local park will cut costs.
- Make business your main travel purpose—and you may be able to deduct it.
While it may be tempting to get some business done while on a family trip or other travel for pleasure, that may not be the smartest move from a tax deduction standpoint. That’s because the IRS will only allow you to deduct for travel when primarily done for business. You can mix business with pleasure while on your business excursion—just be sure you don’t deduct for the non-business part of your trip.
And, most importantly, make sure you document your travel as being “primarily” for business.
- When traveling internationally use a translation app.
Don’t count on everyone speaking English in your international travels.
Today there are translation apps you can use on your smartphone that will provide common travel phrases and requests to help you communicate. The TripLingo app, for example, not only provides a number of travel phrases but will also provide instant voice translations in up to 19 languages.
- Get a micro projector.
If you give sales or customer presentations, you need some way to show your screen to a group. A micro-projector that can be used with a mobile device is a big help. Gone are the days of lugging a heavy projector around—or worse, asking the company you are visiting to use one.
- Bring an extra charger.
No matter how many extra phone chargers you think you need, it’s easy to run out. If you’re traveling all day and taking connecting flights, you may not be able to find charging stations at airports—and when you use a GPS app to navigate around in a rental car, it practically drains your smartphone battery in front of your eyes.
Even when I carry extra chargers and power everything up before I leave home or the hotel, I always seem to have something die before the day’s end. Do yourself a favor and get an additional backup battery/charger for your next trip.
- Learn to pack efficiently.
Packing to save space is an art form and efficient packing can nearly double your space inside a suitcase or briefcase, which can also prevent costs associated with checked bags (or allow you to use a smaller carry-on, saving your back in the process). Here are a few tips:
- Roll clothes in plastic bags saves space and keep wrinkles down.
- Place smaller items inside larger items to save space.
- Explore mobile apps like the PackPoint app to help you plan your packing for extended trips.
- Email your important items to yourself in advance.
Always email yourself your full itinerary (including those all-important confirmation numbers) and a copy of your identification and your passport in advance. It’s a small step, but if you’ve ever had a briefcase left behind in a rental car or your pocket picked, you’ll appreciate this.
If your boarding passes, ID and/or passport get lost or stolen, you at least have access via email to recover them. This enables you to provide evidence to help you start the process of getting replacements and return home.
- Check Seat Guru for the best seat choices.
Not all seats are the same on every plane or even on the same flight.
Seat Guru shows the configuration of the plane for each airline. It helps you determine the best seats by highlighting which seats have the most room, which seats don’t recline, which have issues such as being too close to restrooms and other annoyances that can make travel less pleasant.
Be sure to open up SeatGuru.com, which is a free service, in another browser window to check when making seat selections. You’ll be glad you did.
- Don’t overlook the importance of “free.”
Breakfast is a particularly high-priced meal in most hotels and WiFi can also be pricey at $15.00 to $20.00 per day in some locations. Some hotel chains offer free breakfast and free WiFi, sometimes just for those who are members of their rewards programs, so be sure to do your homework. Checked bag fees can mount up too so take the time to look for airlines that offer free checked bags.
Saving on breakfast, WiFi access and baggage costs can save you hundreds on a single business trip.
Anita Campbell manages several online communities and information websites, reaching over 6 million small business owners, stakeholders and entrepreneurs annually—including Small Business Trends, a daily publication about small business issues and BizSugar.com, a small business social media site.