Frugal Business Travel

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brad
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Frugal Business Travel

Postby brad » Sun May 06, 2007 5:33 am

I'm heading out later today for a conference in New Orleans, and that reminded me that I'm always looking for ways to reduce costs on business trips. I get reimbursed for most of my expenses (although I have a per diem limit), but even so I'm often appalled at the many unnecessary expenses that business travelers face.

A few no-brainers:

*Don't use hotel phones: some hotels now even charge you to dial toll-free numbers, so you incur costs even if you use a calling card. For me this was the last straw that convinced me to get a cellphone.

*Use internet sparingly if you can: hotel charges for internet access (from your room or via WiFi) can be outrageous, and often include bandwidth limits.

*Never eat breakfast at the hotel if you can avoid it: Why pay $10 for a glass of orange juice when you can get it for 85 cents at a breakfast place down the street? If you're at a conference and they serve continental breakfast and fruit, go for that. Or go out shopping the night before and buy some food for your breakfast the next morning.

*Never use the in-room snack bar. This one's obvious: one look at the prices they charge you for snacks and drinks will make you think twice about taking them even if you're on an expense account.

*Exercise: many hotels charge extra for admission to their exercise room. You can go jogging instead, or do calisthenics in your hotel room. Does anyone know of a website that shows simple exercises you can do in your hotel room? I usually do pushups, situps, some jumping jacks for aerobics, and wrap a towel around the knobs of an open bathroom door and hold the ends while I do deep knee-bends. And I take the stairs instead of the elevators whenever possible, although I don't always feel as safe in stairwells as I do in the elevator...I always get the sense that there might be a mugger waiting for me. But it hasn't happened yet.

*Travel from airport to hotel: my boss always takes a cab; I always take public transportation. She thinks I'm wasting money because it takes more time to get there with public transportation, but that's not always true. Last year she spent $40 to get from the Atlanta airport to the hotel by cab, and it took her over an hour because she was stuck in traffic. I spent $3.00 to get there by subway and it took about 20 minutes.

Please add your own tips to this list!

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jdroth
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Postby jdroth » Sun May 06, 2007 11:20 am

Who uses those in-room snack bars, anyhow? I figure it must be people with money to burn, or people traveling on an expense account.

RJ
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Postby RJ » Sun May 06, 2007 2:01 pm

Look through the telephone books in your room for coupons for local restaurants. I almost always find "buy-one-get-one-free" coupons for places that interest me.

Meals may be out of your control, but in my line of work, the per diem allotted for dinner is way too low. (And the amount allotted for breakfast is way too high.) For business dinners I stick to ethnic restaurants, which usually give good value for portions.

I've never encountered a hotel that charges extra for gym use. But if that is the case on your trip, check to see if there's a nearby university or health club or community center that will let you pay a small amount per visit to use their facilities. At the university where I work, it's $5 per day for visitors.

RJ
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Postby RJ » Sun May 06, 2007 2:04 pm

jdroth wrote:Who uses those in-room snack bars, anyhow? I figure it must be people with money to burn, or people traveling on an expense account.


That's probably true. Also, I suspect, mom and dad pay for snack bar items when the kids rush into the room, open the fridge, and begin tearing into the candy bars and soft drinks--all positioned conveniently at arm's length for the short set.


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