How to be frugal when traveling for business

Business Travel

The more you travel, the more exposure you get, the better the network you build. Business travel also results in long-lasting business relationships & friendships. With travel, there comes the cost associated with it. When you invest in travel (which includes flight, train, car rental, food, and other expenses) you would also want to measure the ROI (Return on Investment). When you propose a business trip to your company, ensure you can demonstrate the ROI which will make it easier to approve trips.

Preparing for business travel

Plan your travel in advance: This goes without saying. If you plan your trip ahead of time, you will look better, and you will also save on costs. For plane tickets, domestically in the US, I love booking on Southwest as much as I can as it provides me the flexibility to cancel for free and also lets you carry two pieces of luggage for free. I used to book multiple flights the same day which offered me great flexibility to pick a flight based on my meeting overruns and more. However Southwest stopped offering this feature. However at times, when my travel schedule is not clear, I do book flights for multiple days and based on my meeting schedule, cancel the one’s I do not use.

Hotel VS Airbnb: Should you stay in a hotel or stay in an Airbnb? Which works better? It all depends on the cost and convenience. If you are traveling as a group (3-4 people) instead of booking 3 separate rooms, it may be wise to look for a house which has 3 rooms. If you can save 50% on costs this way, it makes sense to choose Airbnb. On one of our trips to Las Vegas, NV, we got hotel rooms at a cheap cost and it worked better than Airbnb. Whenever you book a place to stay, make sure you are comfortable with your choice and feel at ease.

Hotel vs Airbnb for business travel

Food: Irrespective of the money you spend on eating, it is important not to waste food. So when you are on a business trip with other colleagues, it would make sense to go with the flow. However, do not order just for the sake of ordering. Oftentimes a lot of food is ordered, not consumed and it just goes to waste. We are not helping the environment and also end up spending a lot of money. The choice of the restaurant will also come into play. A little bit of research prior to heading to the city, comparing prices at different restaurants – knowing what would be good and not will be helpful. This will not just save on cost, however, will also save on time and make you more efficient.

Tips: How much would you tip an Uber driver or a restaurant worker serving food? Do as you normally would. Just because you are on a business trip does not mean you have to spend more or spend less. 

Eat healthy while traveling for work

Make sure you are comfortable with the travel, the place you are staying, and the food you are eating. However, do not go beyond anything you would normally do. In the book “No Rules Rules”, Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer talk about it beautifully. At Netflix, they do not impose any rules on travel. They just ask you to behave as you normally would. This makes total sense. It is good to be frugal, especially when you use the company money to travel. However, always make sure you are comfortable with whatever you are doing and do as you normally would. Be Frugal.

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Further reading

Karthik Chidambaram