Friday, January 26, 2007

More ways to save money while travelling on an expense account

I'll be on the road for another week so questions regarding how to save money (and retain my per diem) come to mind.

Here are some thoughts:

  1. Buy things that fit into the hotel's mini-bar refrigerator - cold cuts and bread can fold - large yogurts cannot
  2. Many hotels will provide you with a free refrigerator if you as for it (with out the mini bar contents)
  3. If you ask the front desk, you might get access to the concierge lounge for free liquor and food (think happy hour for free)
  4. Bring a swimsuit and workout clothes
  5. Know where the nearest super market is - buy lots of bottled water. Business class hotels can sell it for $8 a bottle. You can buy luxury water for $1-$2 per bottle or less
  6. Decide where to eat before you arrive. Use the internet, friends, references, colleagues to learn the best most reasonable restaurants
  7. Plan ahead - if you have a lap top, you can bring your own DVDs or rent them at a local blockbuster - beats $12 for a hotel movie
  8. Have dinner at a friends house - spend your meal money on a gift for their children - it's much more rewarding if you have local friends
  9. Buy a snack before you get on the airplane and don't drink while flying - it's easier to dehydrate in the air

Here are some gotchas that I always find challenging:

  1. Internet access - Big Company usually picks it up, but it would be nice to have it waved
  2. Parking - city hotels usually try to slaughter you with fees - what's a good alternative in the suburbs where there are limited alternatives

Please post a comment with other recommendations.

Regards, makingourway


Anonymous said...

Can't you use a wireless connection to get Internet access in the hotel? It's a rare hotel that doesn't have wireless connectivity.

Anonymous said...

I travel quite a bit and receive a per diem rather than specific reimbursement, so I've become quite aware of cutting expenses while traveling. Thanks for the additional ideas presented in this post!

As for internet connectivity, I've found several hotels where it is free in the lounge and public areas, but you have to pay for access in your room. My guess is they figure you'll buy a drink or two if you're in the lounge. But now that so many restaurants and coffee shops offer free internet access, I'm starting to use those as alternatives. But also, when you have to pay for internet access, it's usually on a daily basis, and you don't have to buy it every day you're there. Sometimes I'll pay for one night in my hotel room, but get by on some nights by using free access somewhere else.

I definitely use the grocery store, too. In addition to costing less, it's much easier to eat healthier. Larger grocery stores often have very nice salad bars and deli sections, and I can often find more than enough for a substantial dinner. I have been using MapQuest to find the nearest groceries before I go on my trip. And this is a much easier way to get fresh fruit and vegetables -- fruit I bring with me on a plane seems to get crushed during travel!

Even convenience stores like 7-11 are a better place to buy water or other items than the hotel.

I like the idea of renting some movies at a nearby video store. I've been thinking about getting my favorite workout videos on DVD and taking those with me, too. Even when the hotel's fitness center is too crowded or not well-equipped, I can always do some yoga in the room. (I get some extra towels to use as a mat.)

makingourway said...

Anon(s), thanks for the great comments.

As my employer will pay for internet connection, I generally don't bother with the wireless connection, but my blackberry will support it.

Today I bought:
8 pack of yogurt,
24 bottles water,
plastic forks, knives & spoons,
brick of cheese (montarey jack)
8 apples

Should tide me over through rest of stay.