Remember how business trips used to be, back in the glory days of the Mad Men era? When “going on a jolly” meant charging all kinds of excesses to the company card, flashing any amount of cash to win a client, and frugality was a dirty word?
Well, those days are well and truly over. Today, both your accounts department and your C-Suite expect you to be smart and efficient in how you manage your business travel budget, just as they expect you to be in other areas of your work.
Not sure where to start? Here are 5 ways to keep costs low and avoid racking up huge charges and fees throughout your travel planning, as well as while you’re on your trip.
1. Keep an Eye on Your Passport
Do you know how long you have until your passport runs out? Do you know how many pages you have left - and how many your destination country demands?
Do you need a visa, or do you have any stamps in your passport that will affect your ability to travel to the country you’re planning to visit? For some countries, you may have to wait a certain number of months before your next trip.
Don’t wait until the very last minute to find this stuff out. Trying to get hold of an urgent passport renewal or an express visa can quadruple the cost, and if you have to change your travel plans altogether, you may have to pay for everything all over again too.
2. Pay a Little Extra for a Changeable Flight
If you’re booking a long way in advance or there’s a smidgen of a chance that your plans may change, building a little flexibility into your itinerary can prevent your budget from ballooning further down the line.
While total freedom is very pricey, going for the cheapest, immoveable offering can also be a false economy.
Buying a long haul flight that allows you to change the date, for example, will cost you far less than a) buying an open return or b) rebooking the flight entirely if you buy a fixed one and then can’t travel on that day.
3. Travel Light
If you can cope with carrying hand luggage only, this gives you plenty of opportunities to trim your business travel budget.
For a start, you can make use of the lowest cost flights - which are rarely such a great deal when you start to add on hold luggage and other extras.
Travelling light means you can get around more easily and comfortably, using public transport to get to your hotel, jumping on airport shuttle services and so on instead of paying high prices for taxis at every stage of your journey. This isn’t only more cost effective; in a busy, congested city, it will often save you a ton of time, too.
4. Look Out for Inclusive Deals
Opting for room-only hotel deals might sound like a quick and easy way to cut costs, but it actually makes your expenditure less predictable… and potentially higher.
Knowing that you already have things like breakfast, WiFi access and even dinner covered simplifies matters when you arrive. It means your company already knows exactly what to expect, cost-wise, and you don’t have to worry about charging any nasty little surprises once the trip is complete.
5. Plan Ahead
In the majority of cases, things get expensive because you have to pay out last minute for items you could have dealt with in advance.
When you first begin to organise your trip, mentally walk through your journey and schedule to figure out what you can do, plan or research now to save time and money during your stay.
When it comes to flights and other forms of transport, buying tickets, checking in and figuring out whether you need to pay for extra bags and in-flight meals long before your day of travel will save you a ton of charges and fees.