While business travel on a budget might be possible, it’s far from a piece of cake. Being prepared with the proper supplies and strategies can help you keep things on the right financial track. Here are five of my favorite frugal essentials for business travelers.
It’s important to stay spiffy on the road, particularly when you are traveling for business. So in addition to packing basic toiletry supplies, I recommend the purchase of a simple grooming kit containing things like clippers, an emery board and possibly a small tuck-in of sewing supplies. The ability to handle things like nail care and minor mending on the road will save you from having to dish out funds for manicures prior to interviews, and tracking down a sewing shop to handle minor seam stress.
When it comes to budgeting for business expenses, it’s hard to more bang for your buck than with business cards. They essentially serve as your personal brochure, and enable you to establish contact within acceptable business protocols. Networking is how you survive in any industry, even when you are job hunting or starting your own freelance gig on the side. What your parents told you is true. You can never have too many friends, and business cards are the tool you need to start making them in the corporate world.
If you find yourself using a particular hotel chain repeatedly on your business travels, then I highly recommend taking the time to sign up for their reward card program. Earning points in a hotel program can not only result in an eventual free room, but also additional perks like free upgrades, complimentary room snacks and beverages, newspaper delivery, late checkout privileges and access to executive lounges.
On a recent business trip to a science convention where my husband was speaking on a number of panels, the executive lounge access that came with our reward-card room upgrade provided round-the-clock complimentary access to a gourmet coffee bar with flavor shots, flavored teas, sodas, juices, milk selections and even flavored sparkling waters. It was located in the penthouse with three glass walls overlooking the bay and furnished with numerous flat-screen television sets, comfy couches and socializing areas to chat with other conference attendees. It also provided a hearty breakfast buffet, and an evening happy hour featuring appetizers and a complimentary open bar with a variety of beer and wine options. That’s right. I said free bar.
Having a helpful money app or two on your business trip will help you manage your receipts, accurately file the proper paperwork for your expense report and shave costs in a variety of ways. Account balances, available deal alerts and custom coupon delivery are all possible from your smartphone. So finding out which apps work best for you is an investment of time you will eventually be rewarded for.
The hardware store is one of my favorite cheap sources of travel supplies, and those flat rubber sink stopper disks are the top of my list when people ask me what I prefer to purchase there. Otherwise known as a universal sink stopper, it packs flat in your hanging toiletry bag or luggage and allows you to do necessary personal laundry in sinks around the world, regardless of the size of the drain. While adventure travelers frequently use a tub instead to launder larger clothing items during longer excursions, the truth is that business travelers are frequently delayed for days at a time. This makes laundering things like socks and ties a definite possibility, particularly if you are traveling light.
Business travel is a necessary expense for many professionals. Having a few resources at your disposal with help keep the costs manageable.