How to Save Money When Traveling for Business

Business travel can get expensive quickly, but with some planning and smart strategies, you can save substantially on hotels, flights, meals, and other expenses. Here are tips for stretching your business travel budget.

Book Travel in Advance

Book flights, hotels, and rental cars as early as possible. Prices almost always increase closer to the travel date. Use an online booking tool for travel professionals to save money on hotels, airfare, and more. These tools provide discounted rates not available to the general public. Consider flying on less popular days of the week - Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday are generally cheaper than Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. Don't buy airfare and hotels as a package - book them separately. This gives you more flexibility to get the lowest prices.

Stick to a Per Diem for Meals and Incidentals

Ask your employer for a per diem allowance for meals and small expenses. This is a daily fixed amount to spend. Track your spending to keep within the per diem. Eat your big meal at lunch when prices are lower. Have a light breakfast and dinner. Stock up on snacks and bottled water at a grocery store to keep meal costs down.

Leverage Travel Rewards Programs

Enroll in frequent traveler programs with airlines, hotels, and rental car companies. Earn points and status to get free flights, room upgrades, and other perks. Get a travel rewards credit card and use it for all business expenses. Rack up points to redeem for statement credits. Check your credit card's travel portal to book flights, hotels, and cars using points. This stretches your budget further.

Find Free and Low-Cost Entertainment

Walk, jog, or bike around the destination to explore instead of paying for tours and attractions. Pack books, magazines, and portable games for entertainment when you're not working. Find free concerts, festivals, museums, galleries, parks, and other affordable things to do. Eat at casual, affordable local restaurants rather than high-end places.

Minimize Transportation Costs

Use public transportation like trains, subways and buses at your destination when possible. Split cabs or car services with colleagues you are traveling with. Use a ride share service instead of renting a car if you don't need one every day. Walk or bike to places close to your hotel.

Be Smart About Accommodations

Opt for a suite with a kitchenette when possible. Prepare simple meals to save over eating out. Ask about free breakfast if it's not included. This can save you $10-20 a day. Choose a hotel near dining and entertainment you'll use to limit transportation costs. Consider extended stay rates for long trips - you get more amenities for a lower weekly rate. Stay outside the city center to save on cost, then commute in. Share a room with a colleague to cut room expenses in half.

With some flexible planning and clever ways to earn and save, business travel doesn't need to demolish your budget. What tips do you have for saving money on work trips? Share your best ideas!

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