Easy Ways to Save Money on Travel

Travel can get expensive, fast. But you can also find some really great deals. The catch? You have to do your research. Whether it’s finding a great flight deal, looking for a lesser-known hotel, taking public transportation or eating at a hidden gem, a little knowledge will go a long way. Fortunately, we’ve started the research for you! Here are some simple ways you can save money on your next business trip.

Become an Expert at Finding Flight Deals

a person with a suitcase in a large room.

With the internet you can easily piece together your own itinerary and save money on your next flight. Try pairing two one-way tickets instead of booking a round trip or extending your stay by a day to get a cheaper rate going home. There are loads of little tricks if you know where to look. You can read our guide for finding flights that beat your budget here.

Look for Alternatives to the Big Hotel Chains

a man in a white shirt and tie using a cell phone.

If you aren’t part of a hotel rewards program, you can probably find a better deal by looking beyond the well-known hotel chains. Boutique hotels, like the Freehand in Chicago, sometimes offer great deals for a prime location, you just have to do a little searching to find them. And their atmosphere tends to be more unique and personal. Try looking at Boutique Hotels, Tablet Hotels or Mr & Mrs Smith.

You can also look at alternatives to hotels all together. Try looking for a vacation rental with a site like Airbnb where you might score a private space for much less than a hotel room. While you sacrifice service, you can gain amenities like a kitchen and a washer and dryer.

Get to Know Public Transportation

a subway train traveling down train tracks next to a platform.

No two cities are the same. So if you are an expert at the DC metro, that doesn’t mean you are going know all the ins and outs of the New York subway or the San Francisco Muni. Get to know the public transportation in your destination city to find out if it could save you some money.

For example in DC, traveling from Reagan National Airport to Metro Center will cost you just $2.55 during peak hours on the metro while a taxi driving that same distance will cost you anywhere from $17.07-40.61 depending on traffic. If you prefer a taxi for whatever reason, download an app like Uber and compare their fares against local taxi fare estimates – it only takes a second to look up on your smartphone. On a Friday morning, I’m getting a $14-18 estimate from Uber for the Reagan to Metro Center route.

When your itinerary requires that you rent a car, try a car sharing service like GetAround in place of renting. You can often score the perfect ride for much less than the traditional car rental rates.

Look for Good, Cheap Eats

a plate of food with meat, vegetables and noodles.

When you travel, it’s pretty easy to spend a big chunk of your budget on food and drinks. You’re busy and need convenient options so you go to the closest place regardless of the menu prices. The thing is you could stumble into the most delicious hidden gem of the city, but chances are more likely you are going to get a mediocre meal. Ask local friends for recommendations about a week before you go or consult a site like Yelp to see what’s immediately around you. The ideal scenario is you get to experience the local food scene with a satisfying meal at a good value. And if there is a fancy restaurant you’ve been wanting to try, see if they offer a happy hour menu so you can get a taste for a fraction of the price.

Here are some of our favorite cheap eats in DC.

And let’s face it, sometimes you will be downright tired after a day of meetings and want nothing more than a meal delivered directly to you. Instead of racking up a hefty room service bill, try an on-demand service, like Caviar, that is cheap and convenient. Caviar is pretty cool because they have a feature called FastBites, where you literally get your food within 5 minutes of ordering and it costs around $10-13.

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