5 Tips When Traveling For Work

Hey all. No new post this past Monday because I suck. But really, I’m on travel for work and it throws my whole schedule off even though I do it enough that it shouldn’t.

Why does it throw me off? Because the week before a trip I’m usually working at a frantic pace to make sure things don’t fall through the cracks while I’m gone. Then they inevitably do. Then I end up working at 11pm from a hotel with shitty wifi.

It’s the circle of life.

Nah. I’m doing okay this trip. I have been using a new productivity system to make sure I record all of life’s inputs ala Getting Things Done and its working really well. So far, so good.

But, I did run out of time when it came to getting a post up for Monday. Sorry about that.

In response to my work trip this week, I thought I’d talk about my top four tips to save money while traveling for work while still having as much fun as possible while on travel.

Ready? Here we go!

1 – Book Out Your Calendar

When you travel for work, chances are you have certain times you are expected to be in meetings or presenting or whatever but then you have other blocks of time in which you’re on your own.

Before you even get on the plane, book out all the places you need to be. Put them on your calendar with location data, phone numbers of your contacts, and directions (if necessary). Block it all out.

Then take a look at how much time you have before and after those meetings for you to sight-see or work from a cafe or even read a book in a park. Whatever floats your boat.

On this trip I am attending a conference. I need to be available before and after my presentation so that gets booked out. I am also meeting a colleague for lunch one day. That’s on there. Then I’ve put all my must-see conference sessions on my calendar. Everything other than that is free time.

2 – Check out Groupon

Now that your calendar has been filled out with your “I must be here” schedule, take a trip to Groupon and type in the zipcode of the city you’re visiting. Any good museum passes on sale? What are the locals doing? Find out and go do that. It’s the best way to get to know a city when you’re not a resident.

I have no fucking clue how Groupon stays in business but they do. So buy up all the good attraction coupons and get your tourist on!

3 – Know Your Per Diem

My office has a per diem that is dependent upon what part of the country you’re visiting. Big cities mean more money allocated for food. The thing about my company though, is that you don’t have to turn in receipts for meals. You are just automatically allocated the per diem.

I like to bring a box of granola bars with me for breakfasts. Have a cheapy lunch – usually at a fast casual place. Then I splurge on dinner by checking out Yelp reviews of local restaurants. Since I’m a vegetarian I’ll often google “vegetarian restaurants + name of city” to see what comes up. I’m almost always under per diem using this strategy and it works out perfectly for me. Sometimes I even make money on the trip.

4 – Visit With Friends (if possible)

Use your trip to catch up with out of town friends. If I know someone that lives in the city I’m visiting for work, I’ll always drop them a note and see if they want to hang. They usually know a good place to meet-up or grab dinner and it’s so much better to catch up in person! Most of the time these visits don’t cost much money, but the happiness value of getting to see someone you rarely see is off the charts!

5 – Sign Up For Loyalty Programs with Hotels and Airlines

These are almost always free to join and totally worth signing up for. I’m actually planning a HUGE post series on maximizing the most out of your points and miles when traveling on vacation, so just think of this as a little tease.

I stay at Starwoods Properties a lot. And just by being a member of their Preferred Guest program and telling the front desk I’m okay without housekeeping every day, I’m earning $5 a day in hotel credit. That’s pretty decent if you know you’re going to be ordering room service once or twice during your stay!

So there you have it! Five tips for enjoying yourself while on work travel.

Do you travel often for work? Do you have any tricks of the trade you want to share? Drop ‘em in the comments below! I’m always looking for more travel hacks!

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