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10 Ridiculously Easy Ways to Save Hundreds on Your Next Trip

Many small-business owners plan travel far in advance to save money, yet rack up expenses during the trip. These tips will help you avoid big costs.
July 25, 2013

Many small-business owners buy their airline tickets on Tuesday afternoon when they're cheapest and book hotels far in advance to get the best price. Unfortunately, when they actually go on the trip, they incur large expenses that can really add up. Many hotels charge extras like resort fees, WiFi and parking. Here's how to save on your next business trip.

1. Rebook your rental car the day before. Unlike airlines, rental car prices many times come down the day before they're needed. Book a car in advance, but then recheck the prices the day before travel. In addition, book the cheapest car and then ask for a free upgrade when checking in at the counter. Money can also be saved on taxes when reserving a car from your hotel instead of the airport. And consider alternatives to traditional rental car companies using GetAround or RelayRides to actually rent privately owned cars locally. Savings: Up to 50 percent.

2. Buy bottled water at McDonald's. Water at the airport can cost upwards of $4. While the bottle may be a bit smaller at McDonald's, it never charges more than $2. Savings: Up to 50 percent.

3. Call the hotel directly to book a room. Many times, making a reservation directly with the hotel will yield a lower rate rate than online or through their master 800 number. Savings: Up to 25 percent.

4. Forget WiFi; use a cellphone hotspot. At many major hotels, WiFi can cost up to $24.95 per day. With a wireless cell provider, a hotspot can be set up for a monthly cost of what the hotel charges in a single day. Savings: Huge, depending on how many times you travel per month and pay for WiFi.

5. Stay connected using instant messaging. This is especially helpful for international travel when cell service may be expensive. Alison Krawczyk of Overit Media suggests the IMO messenger app, which links together the nine most popular IM networks. Savings: Up to hundreds of dollars.

6. BYOF (Bring Your Own Food). Food at hotels and airports is expensive. Andrea Featherston-Rossi of Roanoke Creative Marketing suggests bringing nonperishable items like beef jerky, peanut butter and chocolate. She tries to also stop at a grocery store when she travels or take “extras” from the complimentary hotel breakfast to eat later in the day. Syndicated travel writer and photographer Rebecca McCormick visits the hotel spa, which is usually stocked with an assortment of complimentary teas, fresh fruit and other healthy snacks. Savings: Up to 75 percent.

7. Follow the hotels on social media. Carol Margolis, founder of Smart Women's Travelers, suggests following your favorite travel hotels for discounts and promotions. She also participates in Twitter chats related to travel, like #TNI and #travelskills, that may award discount coupons. Savings: Up to 50 percent.

8. Hotel alternatives. Many business travelers seek alternate places to stay when they travel. They use VacationHomeRentals, Couchsurfing or TrustedHousesitters for inexpensive accommodations. Savings: Up to 75 percent.

9. A cheaper ride. Gabriel Stempinski, coauthor of It's a Shareable Life, suggests using Side.cr or Lyft.com in big cities. Both use phone apps that provide ride sharing services that are similar to calling for a taxi. Savings: Up to 50 percent.

10. Use gift cards. Sites like Raise, Zalyn and CouponTrade can sell discounted gift cards to be used at restaurants and hotels when traveling. Savings: Up to 35 percent.

How do you save money when you're traveling?

Read more articles on financial management.

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