How to Use Your Smartphone to Save Money on Business Travel

use smartphone for business travel

To keep your sanity while running your own business, it’s important you get away for a few days. I try to do this as often as I can, and with the holiday season upon us, now’s the perfect opportunity.

Taking time off is not only good for your brain, it can make you more creative and increase your productivity. However, this doesn’t mean you need a large budget to take time off to travel. Of all the money-saving tools I use, my smartphone is by far the most powerful planning tool I own.

So whether you’re taking time off for you, or taking a business trip, you want to be able to save money along the way. Here’s how to use your smartphone to save money when you’re traveling for business, or taking time off from your business.

1. Locate the Cheapest Gas

One of the most expensive things when planning a road trip is the gas. Recently, gas prices have been going down – which is great, but you can’t always rely on the fluctuating gas prices to give you a break.

The GasBuddy app is powered by a community of users working together to let drivers all across the country find the best gas prices. Using your smartphone, you can search by city, state or zip code for:

  • The best price per-gallon
  • Find the cheapest gas on the go (for free!)
  • Locate gas stations and see current gas prices
  • Earn points towards regular prize giveaways

2. Book a Hotel at the Last-Minute

Contrary to popular travel planning advice, I booked my hotel at the last-minute and still got a fabulous deal. I like using the Expedia hotels app to earn travel rewards without a credit card, and I recently found another app called Hotel Tonight (use code: csmith374 for $25 off!) that I’ve been able to get some really good deals with.

Both of these choices are excellent for finding deals and savings for local accommodations when you’re traveling on last-minute business trips. It was also super convenient to book my reservations on the go, and have the confirmation emailed to my iPhone.

3. Use Online Coupons and Specials

I never pay retail price for anything and you shouldn’t either. With mobile apps, and sites like ChameleonJohn, you’ll have access to a wide variety of ways to save money; with the use of promo codes, coupons, and searching for the latest deals.

Some features include:

  • Today’s amazing deals
  • Coupons, popular stores, and categories
  • Best coupon codes
  • Save money and stick to your budget

Another one of my favorite sites is BeFrugal, where you can not only save money on purchases but earn cash back as well. This is perfect for online shopping, reserving flights or hotels, and finding discounts on local entertainment.

And remember: all of these purchases can be deducted on your tax return if they were for business-related expenses.

4. Find the Shortest Route

Whether you use the default navigation system on your phone or download the google maps app, you can save both time and money by finding the shortest route to your destination. Keeping track of your location using GPS is also extremely helpful for avoiding high traffic areas or traffic jams.

I experienced this recently on my way out of town, and used my phone to locate an alternate route. Nothing is more frustrating than being excited to meet with a colleague, or being in a hurry for a meeting, than being stuck in traffic for hours (and wasting gas).

5. Check Out Free Entertainment

One of my favorite travel hacks, is finding fun but free entertainment. There are tons of ways to see the sights, attend concerts and other free activities when traveling. With sites like and you will never run out of cheap entertainment choices.

Another money-saving option is to purchase a local coupon booklet, to get the best deals on sporting events, groceries, local clubs, restaurants, car rentals and more.

6. Locate Free ATM’s

The last thing I want to do when on vacation, is spend hours looking for a nearby ATM. Surprisingly enough, many local banks partner with ATM providers to give you access to fee-free ATM’s.

It’s easy to jump on your mobile phone and find the ATM nearest you. Paying a $2 or $4 ATM fee might not seem like a lot of money, but wouldn’t you rather spend that on your vacation instead?

7. Get the Best Food for Cheap

By far the coolest thing about a road trip (or traveling in general) is getting to try new foods! However, sometimes this can come at a high price and constantly eating out can easily bust your vacation budget.

The MealTicket app for iPhone, allows you to search for restaurant coupons and special deals in your area. It also provides a list of coupons and reviews submitted by other users.

For me, this app stands out from other food apps, because you can show your server the coupon right from your smartphone, it’s all digital — no printer needed.

8. Try “Deal-of-the-Day” Apps

I love deal-of-the-day apps like Groupon and Living Social. They are excellent tools to book business plans on the go, but still save some money in the process.

Plus it’s fun to be a little spontaneous and try new restaurants, activities and getaway locations.

To take advantage of Groupon, simply sign-up for the local version of the service (your travel destination) and wait for the great offers to pop up. Many of the deals offer paperless redemption options, which means you can redeem them right from your smartphone.

Do you use your smartphone to save money when traveling for business? What are your favorite travel apps?

7 Steps to Go From Being in Debt to Financial Freedom
No More Boring Businesses by Mish & Rob (Mortified Cow)


  1. Modest Money says:

    Your timing of this post is funny for me since I just went on a road trip and my today’s post is about why I don’t want a smart phone.  I admit that this road trip was a little different since I was going to visit family rather than check out local attractions and dining.  I don’t think I would’ve got a chance to use any of these cost saving tricks though.  For one I drove the whole way with minimal stops and wouldn’t have even had time to check a smartphone.  Also I just spent very little money in general.  These things would be great for longer vacations though.

    • Carrie Smith says:

      That’s funny @modestmoney:disqus I do understand their are times when a smartphone is more of a distraction/money waster than a money saver. But it sounds like my trip was a little more laid back than yours, especially since I was doing it for the recreational value.

  2. IdaBaker says:

    The timing for this informative article couldn’t have been better.  I’ll be leaving on a 2 week trip soon, and I’ll be driving.  I already knew about GasBuddy, but the other ones are totally new for me.  Thanks.

  3. Texas looks good!  Nice tips.  I usually use the coupons and restaurant guides.  I’m not sure if I’m brave enough to book a hotel on my phone last minute!  I’m too much of a planner! 

    • Carrie Smith says:

      Normally I’m a super planner. I am not a fan of going places unprepared. But before I took this trip, I vowed to be more spontaneous and learn to live a little. So I didn’t plan much and relied on my iPhone to book my hotel and activities.

  4. Niki says:

    We are doing a cross country road trip in about a month, I am not even sorry we purchased smart phones last Christmas. I think they might come in handy.

    Loved your Instagram photos by the way.

  5. AverageJoe says:

    I know right where you are in Dallas (I think….). If I’m right, that area ALWAYS seems to be backed up, or at least really, really busy.

    I love your tips. Also like avoiding these delays by using some of the cool social apps for driving. They spot traffic back ups, cars on the side of the road, and (maybe best of all) our friendly law enforcement officers.

  6. Shannon_ReadyForZero says:

    I could have used these tips a few months ago when I was traveling across country from NYC to San Francisco :).  Nevertheless, these are really cool tips and I’m excited to try some out – especially the MealTicket app!

  7. Kristina says:

    I am so guilty of this. Whenever I travel I choose convenience over cost and my cell phone bill adds up very quickly. Great post.

  8. I’ve had some luck with’s Hot Deals, too. It’s been great to get decent hotels at a good deal when you’re not picky abou the location.

    I’ve found the Allpoint app to be pretty handy, too!

  9. Tahnya Kristina says:

    OK so first off – I TOTALLY LOVE ARCADES, I just wanted to put that out there. I am Canadian, but I travel a lot to the U.S. after two cell phone bills with over $100 in roaming charges I decided to just get a local U.S. phone number with a pay as you go plan. I love it and it was one of the best financial decisions I ever made.

  10. Nick Loper says:

    Definitely second the Groupon Now recommendation for inspiration / ideas / deals on stuff to do nearby in a new city! Their app is pretty good, but I’d just check tripadvisor/yelp before buying in case the place really isn’t worth visiting 🙂

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