Business travel is much different for bootstrapping entrepreneurs than it is on the corporate company’s dime. Here’s how to save when you’re footing your own bill.
By Delilah Panio (Founder & CEO, Stiletto Dash)
As a former corporate climber and road warrior, I took an average of 75 flights per year for my job in the capital markets. While I love to travel, the glamour of business travel soon wore off. Eventually I burned out and quit my job.
But in every tough time, there is usually a silver lining (and often a business idea)! For me, it was the vision of creating a unique platform for women business travelers to access the best travel products, info and services to promote healthier travel.
I know many of you are in the same boat. You may have experienced the corporate travel life, but now as a bootstrapping entrepreneur business travel is much different. There are no big expense accounts, corporate cards or company rates. But we still have to travel to build our businesses so we can get to our customers and pitch to investors.
Now when I travel, I do it much differently because I have to be mindful of costs. But my priority of staying healthy, happy, savvy and connected on the road is even greater, since now I am building my first company.
Here are some of my tips for better business travel on a startup budget.
1. Download the Right Apps
Be a savvy traveler with the right apps at your fingertips including your local airport’s app to pick the best and most economical food choices; AllinFitness for free workouts and to keep you motivated on the road; Cozi to manage your household while you’re away; and Uber for car service to and from airports (be sure to use UberX for in-city transit).
2. Be a Points Snob
It’s especially critical to stick to your hotel and airline loyalty programs when you’re trying to keep travel expenses low. It gives you the best chances of getting upgraded and also ensures more points for future business trips. Use a site like points.com to manage your programs and keep tabs of all your points.
3. Sleep Cheap
It seems crazy to think of staying at someone else’s home while on a business trip, but consider AirBnB as a cheaper alternative. It’s also nice for a homier feel and for no extra tax or room service charges on the bill.
4. Build Your Mobile Office
Travel expenses creep up quickly through roaming charges and last-minute printing. Use these apps and sites to save you money: WiFi Finder to find free WiFi; Skype for free calls and freeconferencecall.com for conferences calls; and the FedEx app to find the closest spot to print and copy.
5. Dress and Shop the Part
Build your travel wardrobe by investing in some great foundation pieces such as timeless suits that include the jacket, skirt and trousers or classic dresses that can go from meeting to dinner with the right accessories.
Sign up for online discount shopping sites (pick one with free shipping!) like HauteLook, Bluefly and Zappos to add seasonal and trendy pieces to create multiple outfits that fit into your carry-on. For events and galas, consider renting from RenttheRunway.com and have your affordable couture dress sent to your hotel room.
6. Dine Smart
Save on meal expenses by packing your own healthy travel snacks (the right containers are essential); using an app like GrubHub to avoid expensive room service and have healthier and cheaper options delivered to your hotel; locating a close-by market and getting staples like fruit, yogurt and snacks for your room; and using UrbanSpoon or HealthyDiningFinder to find local restaurants within your budget.
7. DIY Beauty Treatments
Some of the perks of travel are also the costliest expenses. If you’re going to pamper yourself a little (which I highly recommend to keep sane!), then try some of these do-it-yourself ideas. Pack a massage ball instead of paying for a hotel spa massage; run to a local pharmacy and grab an eye mask, bath salts and facial scrub; and if the new blowout craze doesn’t match your budget, learn how to do the perfect blowout by BobbyGlam.
The key to business travel is to take care of yourself… and yes, it is possible to do it even on a bootstrapping budget.