A version of this article first appeared in the Globe & Mail‘s Report on Business’ special report on Small Business Travel on October 4, 2012.
Story by Adrian Brijbassi
Vacay.ca Managing Editor
Hitting the road for business can be exciting, stressful and costly. Here are 10 tips that will help you save time and money when you travel for business.
1. Take pleasure in “bleisure”. Rather than fly home right after your business stay, make the most of your airfare cost by extending your visit. The term “bleisure” is used to describe combining business trips with personal vacations. According to an Embassy Suites‘ survey released earlier this year, US business travellers in 2011 stretched a visit by an average of three extra days.
2. Fly on Tuesday or Wednesday. Prices on these two days can be up to 25 per cent lower than airfares for departures on Friday or Sunday, the most expensive days to fly, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
3. Train it. Whenever possible, go by train. It’s the best way to travel for a number of reasons, including WiFi access. Also, train stations in major cities are usually in the downtown areas, making travelling to and from hotels convenient and transportation less expensive. With Via Rail, you can travel between Toronto and Montreal in five hours.
4. Go public. Taxi fares are a huge travel expense — and an unnecessary one if you are in a city with a public transit system that will get you where you need to go. With schedules and fare information readily available online, you can save a significant amount of money by downloading the transit app for your destination city and doing a bit of research before you arrive. Know what stations are relevant to your stay and you will be prepared to get around town.
5. Know your hotel. The two things I covet in a hotel room are free, reliable WiFi access and room-darkening curtains. They’re among the first things I look for when I visit a hotel’s website. I know without those two amenities my stay won’t be as pleasant as I hope. Look beyond price when you book your hotel and know your preferences, too. Business travellers spend more time in their hotels than leisure travellers, so finding the right match is important to maximize the benefit of your stay. Some hotels offer complimentary car service within city limits, which can be a big advantage if your days are filled with meetings.
6. Save on food. Food costs are budget killers, so the temptation may be to eat cheap when you’re on the road. But if you don’t know where to purchase high-quality, low-cost meals in an unfamiliar city, you’re asking for the kind of trouble that can ruin a visit, and potentially an important meeting. Some of the best and healthiest cheap meals you’ll find are in the prepared food sections of grocery stores. Also, check to see if your hotel room has a microwave or a kitchen, which would give you the option to cook your own meals, lowering your costs further and allowing you to keep an eye on what goes into your food.
7. Pack light. I once made it from curb to gate at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport in six minutes. (It was a domestic flight on a Tuesday afternoon.) When all you’ve got is a laptop case and a suit carrier that can fold into a plane’s overhead compartment, you liberate yourself from many of the intolerable aspects of the airport experience.
8. Pack it all in. Just because you’re travelling to see one client or to take in a particular conference doesn’t mean that’s all you should do. Schedule as many meetings as you can. If you’ve got network connections in the area, look them up and see if they’ve got time to meet. Even if they’re a few hours from where you’ll be staying, it doesn’t hurt to reach out. Best case: they meet you. Worst case: you manage to keep contact and let them know you were thinking of them.
9. Meet and greet. Check forums such as meetup.org for which likeminded individuals are gathering during your visit to another city. Such outlets can be a great way to network — and the social aspect could boost the enjoyment of your stay.
10. Consult a travel expert. Want up-to-date information on your destination city? Looking for dependable places to eat? Want to know what attractions are worth making the effort to visit and how much time and money you should budget for sightseeing? The best, most objective way to get answers is to find knowledgeable travel experts. At Vacay.ca, our travel journalists and experts offer free trip-planning advice. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your inquiry.