Stretching Your Travel $

Whether traveling for business or pleasure, you can go away without going broke. By Meghan McClure


No industry is immune. The down economy is forcing businesses everywhere to do what they can to be sensitive and adjust to consumer spending. With travel prices falling, there are ways to make sure you and your employees arrive in style while watching your bottom line. We’ve come up with a “can’t miss” list of tips to help you save money while planning your next trip.

Ways to Save On Business Travel

Create and Distribute a Travel Policy

This is the simplest and easiest way to avoid extra expenses and provide your employees with clear guidelines. Areas that can be covered in the travel policy are; travel as a condition of employment, cost control, documenting/recording expenses, expenses of spouses, employer liability for employee safety, and consequences for violators. Visiting www.hrpolicyanswers.com will help guide you through the creation of the travel policy

Recognize Tax Deductions

According to the IRS, travel expenses paid or incurred in connection with a temporary work assignment away from home are deductible. The IRS considers these expenses to be tax deductible; travel by airplane, train, bus or car between your home and your business destination, using your car while at your business destination, fare for taxis or other types of transportation between the airport or train station and your hotel, the hotel and the work location, and from one customer to another, or from one place of business to another, meals and lodging, tips you pay for services related to any of these expenses, and travel expenses for conventions if attendance benefits your trade/business. Employers can find more information on www.irs.gov.

Discover Convention Discounts

Discounted hotel and ground transport rates are usually available to the attendees of conventions. Contacting the meeting planners of the convention will give you a better idea of discounts that are available and where they are offered.

Use a Single Corporate Credit Card

This will greatly simplify the record keeping and accounting process and depending on which card the company chooses to use, you can earn rewards that may earn you airline miles/flights, among other great benefits.

Ways to Save on Air Travel

Know What Day to Purchase

Hold off from Friday to Monday morning to buy your tickets. Airlines increase their fares on Thursday evenings and watch over the weekend to see if their competitors match the price. If the prices are not matched, the airline will likely roll back prices by Monday afternoon. Be careful, there will be no refund if you purchase a higher-priced ticket over the weekend.

Join your Preferred Airline’s Frequent Flier Program

Joining a frequent flier program will also earn reward points, which in return will allow members to receive free flights or airline miles.

Fly Alternative Airlines/Alternative Airports

These changes can allow travelers to save money but may not save you time as alternative airports may not be that close.

Get a Good Carry On, Ship the Rest

You can avoid luggage fees and the risk of airlines losing luggage by packing better carry-on bags. According to www.onebag.com, some recommended bags are the Red Oxx “Air Boss” and the Easy Going Carryon. If you must travel with lots of luggage, ship it FedEx, UPS, etc. rather than paying the fee.

Volunteer to Get Bumped

Next time, volunteer to wait for the next flight. Most of the time, the airline will offer generous travel vouchers that can and will save you money on your next trip. Although, as a business traveler or traveling with a family, flexibility is not always given, if it is a possibility for you, jump at the chance.

Search the Web for Deals

Expedia (www.expedia.com), Travelocity (www.travelocity.com), and Orbitz (www.orbitz.com) are all major players in the online travel-planning arena. They all offer hundreds of search results, business travel tools, car rental opportunities, and deals on the best locations.

Negotiate for Lower Travel and Lodging Prices

More travel-related businesses have begun offering special discounts to small and medium sized businesses. Everything is negotiable; so take a minute to hone those skills.

Ways to Save on Everyday Travel

Carpooling

With gas climbing back toward last summer’s high, the best way to save money is to find a co-worker, family member, or friend to share the cost. For those business meetings, take as few cars as possible.

Taking Public Transportation

Taking the train or bus will save money and the environment. Just make sure plenty of time is allotted so you will be on time. Taking the train to a business meeting will also be cost effective, if the destination is not far away.

Finding an Alternate Route

The highways are not always the best choice. They can be slow and congested. Finding an alternate route may save you time, money, and your sanity. Who wants to wait in that much traffic?

Drive Slower

I know that this is a hard one, but the faster you drive the more gas you use. Fast starts and sudden stops also affect your gas useage. Drive with a gas friendly conscience.

Purchasing a Different Mode of Transportation

If you car is old, or doesn’t get good gas mileage, consider purchasing a new vehicle. Whether your new vehicle is highly-rated for gas mileage, a hybrid, a moped, or even a new bike, it will save on gas and that will save you money.

Proper Maintenance

Making sure that your car is in good working order will help reduce the cost of gas. Properly filling your tires with air, checking your air filter, and tuning up the engine will make your car run better and more efficiently.

Finding the best travel deals and ways to save is all about taking your time and using all of your available resources. Landing that deal will be well worth it as there is a potential to save a lot of money, experience less travel stress, and find piece of mind. Now that you know where to find the best bargains for your vacation, it’s time to get packing. Bon voyage!

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