5 Travel Hacks to Make the Most of Your Business Trip

mobile apps traveling

Travel has always been something I love doing. I enjoy visiting new places, creating new memories and seeing new cultures. It’s not just to get away from the routines of my daily life, but to remind myself of how blessed I am to be alive and see the world.

I do a fair amount of flying on airplanes, as well as driving across the country (and especially across the state of Texas). Here’s a few travel hacks I’ve discovered along the way.

1. Compare the cost of driving vs flying

With the price of gas these days, purchasing a plane ticket might actually cost less than driving to your destination. Compare the cost with a tool like a Fly or Drive Calculator from BeFrugal. It takes into account the total expense, carbon emissions and the time it takes to fly or drive, to help determine the best travel method. Here’s how my solo-trip comparison turned out:

Fly vs Drive Calculator

I didn’t realize flying could be so much cheaper than driving, even when I factored in the price of the round-trip ticket. Flying also puts out less environmental emissions, which is a good thing.

2. Find free or discounted entertainment

Free-Attractions.com

Free-Attractions.com offers a complete list of free museums, free parks, free concerts, free zoos and more, at over 1,500 cities across the United States.

Start by inputting your city and state, look through all the free activities that are available, then pick your favorites and go. This is also a great idea for those times when you’re stuck at home and can’t travel too far.

CityPass.com

City Pass offers an activity book that costs around $30 – $60 (depending on the location) for major cities across the country. I purchased a City Pass booklet last year when I visited Seattle.

Which included a trip to the Space Needle, the Aquarium and the EMP Museum – where they had a special exhibit of Battlestar Galactica (I’m a geek at heart). It also includes coupons for food and other popular tourist attractions.

Entertainment.com

This is an entertainment coupon book that includes discounts for retail shopping, dining out, grocery shopping, car rentals, sporting events and tons more. For $15 you will get over $1,000 of coupons, savings and discounts.

They have a much broader range of cities where you will be able to benefit from the savings compared to City Pass.

3. Earn travel rewards (with or without a credit card)

Travel rewards programs aren’t always as free as they might appear. Be sure to read the fine print to see if your credit card company has any redemption restrictions. Rewards are available in two basic types:

  • Frequent-flyer rewards programs provided by a specific airline company
  • Credit-card rewards programs that earn points from everyday purchases

If you use a credit card that offers travel rewards and points, then by all means please take advantage of it. If you don’t want to use credit to book your summer travel plans, you can still earn rewards and points without a credit card. Sign up for a hotel’s loyalty program, earn frequent flyer miles and lots more — with or without a credit card.

Make the most of your loyalty programs by using Points.com, which let’s you exchange, trade and redeem rewards from airline frequent flyer miles to hotel points, from credit card rewards to gas and drugstore cards.

For instance, I have racked up a lot of points with American Airlines, but with Points.com I can trade my points for Delta or JetBlue vouchers instead.

4. Use online coupons and discounts

By doing a brief search for free coupons and promo codes on discount sites, you can save big by taking advantage of great deals (for example: 20% off airfare, a free car rental for a day or $25 off NYC hotels). You can also earn cash back on transactions (that’s deposited in your free account) on any travel booked online, in addition to saving money with coupons.

Get an average of 5% Cash Back at 2000+ Stores - BeFrugal.com

Search group buying sites like Groupon or Google Offers for dining, hotel and entertainment deals. Not only will you find discounts for 50% off or more, you can earn cash back when your Groupon deals are bought online.

5. DIY and plan in advance

By doing it yourself I mean, pack your food and snacks instead of stopping at convenience stores or buying pricey food at the airport. Bring your own headphones, magazines and books instead of buying them along the way.

Plan your trip in advance to see if you can stay with family and friends to cut down on accommodation costs, or borrow an extra vehicle instead of paying for a car rental. Planning ahead will also ensure access to some of the best deals and offers available.

To sum it up: you can still make traveling this season a priority, if you’re creative and start applying a few of these travel hacks. My travel budget is pretty small, so I’m always looking for ways to have fun while on a budget.

Do you have any travel hacks to share?

The Behavior Gap by Carl Richards
Sometimes Self-Employed Freelancers Need a Little Motivation

27 comments

  1. Jessi says:

    That calculator is SO interesting.  I put in all our vacations we’ve taken recently and for all of them, driving has ended up cheaper (our latest vacation the drive was an 18 hour day, but it saved us over $1,000) and better for the environment.  I guess it is because the car gets about 40 mpg.

    I’m definitely bookmarking that site for future use, although we almost always choose to drive if we have the time to do so.

  2. Modest Money says:

    Depending where you live it might also be worth considering driving to an out of town airport to fly out of.  Here in Vancouver it is usually much cheaper to drive across the border to fly out of Washington.  It’s actually close enough to just take a short bus ride and save a lot of money on the flight.  It’s always a good idea to plan ahead too.  You can find all kinds of coupons if you just check.

    • Carrie Smith says:

      That’s a really good point. I have that option here in Texas, and most of the time it’s cheaper to fly out of DFW. But there have been occasions where the smaller airport was less expensive.

  3. Excellent list of resources!

    I think buying groupons for cities that you plan to travel to is a great idea. I signed up for Groupon LasVegas last year. We try to use airline reward miles as much as we can. One year we had to go to a family wedding out of town and we used points for both the flight and the hotel. I felt the hotel was somewhat of a rip off because it cost a huge amount of points for only 3 nights stay.

    • Carrie Smith says:

      I have used several Groupons and they worked great for me too! I’m careful like most people to only buy them for things I would get anyway. This makes the deal even better.

  4. Robb says:

    Have a friend give you a ride to and from the airport, or take a taxi. It will be tons cheaper than putting a car in airport parking. Not to mention a lot of them engage in a bunch of funny business when it comes to costs, fees, etc – I once got nailed with a 320 dollar parking tab and after that was like “NEVER AGAIN!!!”

  5. Great article Carrie!  I think one of the bet ways to save money is to be flexible on your travel dates.  

    To save money on hotel costs, there’s an awesome app called HotelTonight, where you book a room through your phone literally the day you want to stay there.  They give you about 3-5 hotels to choose from, so depending on your “taste”, there’s always a room that’s heavily discounted.

  6. Great article! I just got back from a weekend road trip and my biggest travel hack is this: Find a few other people to come with you. My fiancée and I travelled with my sister and her boyfriend. By splitting the cost of a hotel room and gas, we halved those costs. Just make sure the people you travel with aren’t enablers that convince you to spend more than you intended.

    • Carrie Smith says:

      YES! Excellent travel hack for sure. Some of the people I’ve traveled with in the past didn’t pay their part, so you’re lucky to have people who can pitch in.

      • I just try and be open and frank about it going in. I talk openly about the cost of things and what it’ll be halved, that way the expectation that they pay their half is very clear before we’re ever out the driveway. It’s worked so far! If it didn’t I’m not sure what I’d do, but I’d definitely get the money one way or another.

      • V. Brown says:

        Great tips — in THEORY. I am always struck by tips like these seem to forget that many travelers are FAMILIES. So wouldn’t this change things a bit if you are a family of four? You’d have to factor in four plane tickets ($315 x 4). Wouldn’t that change the equation in favor of driving? Just sayin’….

  7. Good tips!   I always compare, compare, compare for everything.  And the points seem silly, but they can add up pretty fast.  I second that people should sign up!

  8. Marissa says:

    Im having the hardest time deciding on whether to fly or drive to NYC fro blogher. Its only 7 hours away, but that 14 hours and a lot of trouble driving downtown Manhattan

  9. We have recently enjoyed a two weeks vacation break. I used my miles to treat us with award tickets.

    I have been at the highest level with the airline and plenty of miles. However they have changed the rules for flying through Europe and
    you have to pay about 50% of the airfare anyway.

    It is still worth collecting the miles, as I am traveling on business most of the time but if it would be own money, I would go
    for the cheapest possible airline – no miles required. They just not worth any longer to fly with particular airline.

     

  10. Shawanda says:

    I’m attending the Blogher Conference in August. The conference discount rate for a hotel room is $245 a night. Unacceptable! I’m either staying in a hostel or booking a place through Airbnb. By doing that, I think I’ll be able to scale down lodging costs to about $90 per night including taxes and fees. Also, I’m taking the bus from DC to NY. It’s possible I can score a round trip deal for about $25. At the most, I’ll pay $60. I’d pay almost twice that just in tolls if I drove.

    • Carrie Smith says:

      This is where it totally pays to do your research and find some other options. Sometimes it’s cheaper to take the bus, or to drive or to fly. Each situation is different, which makes planning ahead key. You make some great points!

  11. foxydollar says:

    Carrie, Great travel tips just in time for my summer travels. I will be traveling back and forth to Chicago for medical purposes with the family and we were trying to determine if it would be cheaper for all of us to fly or pack in the car and drive each time. 

    Happy Travels,
    Felicia

  12. I love that calculator!  We mostly drive, because it usually pans out to be cheaper.  (Though the time variant has to be taken under consideration.  Especially for trips that take a few days by auto.)  I like that it has a Co2 cost for it, too…

  13. Carrie Starr says:

    Thanks for sharing Carrie!  Perfect for this time of year. 

    For our family of five, driving is always cheaper (unless crossing an ocean is involved.)  It does take us more time, but we consider the car time part of the trip.  If we plan it well, it’s quality family bonding.  We enjoy reading aloud together, singing loudly and playing ridiculous games.  Great memories.

     I know, we’re weird. But we save big time!

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