The last few years have seen the U.S. economy steadily recovering from the Great Recession. With the economic recovery and positive jobs reports, another key area that has seen an uptick is business travel. In 2015, business travel spending is set to touch $1.25 trillion, an increase of 6.5 percent over the previous year.
However despite the growth in business travel, the recession has taught companies to be frugal. Technology combined with some smart planning can be a huge help in this search for economic prudence.
1. Book well ahead of time.
We all know intuitively that the earlier we book our travel, the lower our tickets will cost. Research now offers us the exact number of days in advance one should book tickets to enjoy the lowest fares. For domestic flights, book 57 days before departure and for international flights, book 171 days before departure for the lowest fares. Track fares before booking with Yapta or AirfareWatchdog to get instant alerts when fares to your desired destination drop.
Sunday seems to be the cheapest day for flights owing to two factors. First, business travel bookings typically happen on weekdays. With lower booking volumes, prices tend to drop on weekends. Secondly, weekends are typically when individual travelers get to plan their personal vacations. Travel companies tap into this behavior and offer coupons and discounts for weekend bookings via social media. The result is cheaper tickets on weekends.
Related: The 10 Best Airlines in the World
2. Travel light.
Airlines are notorious these days for their atrocious charges on checked luggage. While some allow one free checked bag and charge around a $100 for the second bag, many domestic carriers charge for even a single piece of checked in luggage.
To keep costs at a minimum, avoid checked bags altogether. Read up about the size of in-flight luggage permitted by your airline and make it a point to fit your things within that limit. Not only will it save some extra cash on checked-in luggage, you’ll also save precious time that you’d otherwise spend waiting at the baggage carousel once you land.
3. Eat smart.
Food can be a big expense when you travel on business. Keep expenses minimal by booking yourself at hotels that offer free breakfast. Avoid room service. It can rack up a giant bill before you’re even a day into your trip.
Scope out affordable restaurants near your hotel on apps like Yelp or UrbanSpoon. An even cheaper option is to visit the neighborhood grocery store and pick up salads, sandwiches or hot rolls and deli items from there. On days you want to eat light, you could pick up fruits and soup to keep both your waistline and budget healthy.
4. Save on international calling.
Besides the price of the air tickets and hotel, two of the most expensive aspects of international travel are phone and data connections that you take for granted at home. Most business hotels offer complimentary WiFi packages. Make sure you utilize them instead of buying WiFi connectivity through your personal hotspots.
Mobile connectivity can be expensive if you decide to switch your local number to international roaming when you jet set abroad. Alternatively, a service like iPlum is a smart choice for US travelers traveling abroad. iPlum offers you a domestic US number that you can use to make and receive calls anywhere in the world at a fraction of the price you’d pay for international roaming plans on your regular phone.
5. Try ridesharing instead of car rentals.
If you’re traveling to a small town or a rural setting, then by all means go for a rental car. You’ll have better mobility and will pay nothing for parking. Traffic is not an issue and the long distances between most places means that the rental car will pay for itself.
The scenario completely turns on its head with an urban trip. When you rent a car in a city, you pay for the car, insurance, gas, parking and worst of all, negotiate through maddening traffic. Opt instead for anyone of the numerous international and country specific ride sharing apps available on your smartphone. With ride sharing, you choose your destination on the app and in minutes you have a cab. Instead of paying full price for a ride to your destination, you share the price of the ride with fellow travelers. UberPool and Lyft Line are industry game changers Uber and Lyft respectively are popular options you can trust.