Our recent expedition to Los Angeles for Outlier On Air got me thinking about travel and the Startup lifestyle. There are times when those two things don’t seem to fit together. An entrepreneur’s budget doesn’t always allow for expensive hotels, five-star meals, and a luxury ride. Sometimes you feel lucky if you manage to score a cheap ticket on the back of a Greyhound and scrounge up enough food to toss into a paper bag for the ride.
Though we may strive to attain one of those methods while trying to avoid the other, most of us Startup-voyagers fall somewhere in between the two extremes. At least that’s how it was for our crew on this go around. Having just had first-hand experience with the life topic of business travel hacks, I’ve decided to pass some of our better discoveries on to you.
Hotel Tonight App- This handy little app can be downloaded straight to your iPhone, iPad, or Android and gives you a last minute look at the local hotel deals. The rooms available on any given day aren’t released to app users until noon in the time zone where the hotel is located. So if you’re in Utah but looking for a room in Vegas, those deals won’t be shown to you until 1:00 pm MST or noon PST. This can mean you’re not booking your sleeping arrangements until you’ve already arrived at your destination. A bit down-to-the wire at times but we used this app on our recent stay and received significant discounts at three- and four-star hotels. The app lets you choose from dozens of major cities around the world so chances are, you’ll find something at your next location. Definitely worth it on a Startup’s budget.
Rent Cars for Mileage, Not Style- Unless you absolutely have to make a grand entrance when you roll up to your client’s door, rent a car that is known more for its killer gas mileage than it’s amazing looks. That Hummer may have an awesome road presence but it will still look pretty pathetic sitting by the side of the road with an empty gas tank. When you’re on a travel budget, literally every penny counts. Calculate the money you’ll spend on gas and be sure to take into account the higher gas prices you’ll encounter in some of the states you travel through. Knowing your bottom line when it comes to fuel will help you select a more economical car at the rental dealer.
Beware of “Cheap” Airline Tickets- Though red-eye flights or flights with multiple stops and lay-overs may appear to come with a lower price tag, do your research carefully before booking. You can often find non-stop flights for even less than these grueling travel methods with airlines such as Southwest. If you find a multi-stop flight at an incredible rate, you also need to check on the airline’s baggage policy. Many charge an additional $50 or more per checked bag and some charge hefty fees for bags that weigh over 40 pounds. Since many airlines also have restrictions on carry-on’s this can mean you’re racking up some serious luggage expenses. When all is said and done, your “cheap” red-eye may have turned out to be more expensive than that non-stop with another airline. Do your homework, shop around, and read airline policies carefully.
Learn to Love the Dollar Menu- Save your meal budget for dinners with clients and feed yourself and your travel companions off the dollar menu at local fast food chains. It’s amazing how many burgers and tacos you can get for a buck! You may never want to see one again by the time you get home, but at least your food budget will stay in the black. If you really want to rough it, head to the nearest grocery store and pick up a loaf of bread, some peanut butter, and a giant bag of chips. It may make you feel like you’re in 3rd grade again but a peanut butter sandwich makes a great road trip meal since it’s cheap, fast, and easy.
Got any business travel hacks of your own you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them. Leave a comment below and maybe we’ll feature one in our next article!