Sure, everyone complains. But traveling for business isn’t half bad: You get to play hooky from the office, rack up frequent flier miles, see new sights. And when else are you going to fly business class to Tokyo on the company dime?
Of course, when the company's dimes are your own, spending them gets a lot more painful.
Thankfully, when booking flights and hotel rooms, there are discounts readily available. We highlighted the best ways to find them in “Getting There” and “Staying There,” the first and second installments of our Forbes.com four-part series: Small-Business Travel Guide.
But it’s those little, on-the-road expenses — cab fare, laundry, meals — that can add up faster than you can say “Charge it to my room.” Should you pay up for the hotel business center or take your chances with the Kinko’s next door? Hail a cab or brave public transport? And if you’re going overseas, how do you learn the language (or at least key phrases like "Pleased to meet you" and "Where is the nearest bathroom?") as quickly — and cheaply — as possible?
We're here to help with "Being There." In this third installment of our series, you'll learn the secrets of conducting business on the road without compromising your cash flow. (Our last story features tips on feasting for less while traveling.) In order to get the best tricks of the trade, we spoke with road-weary entrepreneurs, travel agencies and various small-business advisers to compile 11 tactics that will get you there and back, bank account intact. And of course, these tips work as well for the entrepreneurial traveler as they do for the traveling entrepreneur.
For starters, we’re giving the hotel business center a categorical no. Sure, it’s right down the hall, and finding a Kinko’s might seem a hassle. Then again, there are some 1,450 of them in the U.S. — and there’s an easy search toolbar on the Web site where you can locate the closest one. The best part: You’ll pay just 10 cents per page for black and white copies and 99 cents apiece for color, compared to the 40 cents and $3 per page charged by luxury hotels.
As for cabs, they very well may get the job done. But in hyper-congested cities such as New York, London and Boston, cabs are by no means your best option — especially at rush hour. For guests who know to ask for it in advance, a better option is the complimentary car service offered by many hotels. Failing that, subways are a very efficient way to get around — and not nearly as filthy and dangerous as some movies would have you think.
If you're out to impress international customers, it makes sense to get familiar with their language. But don’t torch a truckload on a tutor or an intensive language course. (A nine-week immersion program costs as much as $7,700 at Middlebury College in Vermont and, well, you're stuck in Vermont for nine weeks.) The Pimsleur Approach, on the other hand, was designed in conjunction with the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency to boil down the essential elements of a foreign language so that beginners can acquire basic skills immediately. Audio tapes containing 30 lessons (30 minutes each) cost $274.
If we’ve forgotten your favorite method for saving money on the road, be sure to write and let us know.