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How to cut your travel expenses

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27 / Feb / 2014

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It’s 6:00am and you are rushing through security at the Coffs Harbour airport.  After the 6:30am Qantas flight to Sydney you will board a 10 hour flight to Hong Kong to meet a supplier. You wish you were back in bed, you know you are going to be a wreck by the end of the trip and you are worrying about your travel budget, which seems to be getting out of hand.

Here are some tips to get the budget back under control and maybe to sneak in a bit more shut eye.

Teleconference rather than fly

The best way to cut back on travel costs is to travel less.  Sometimes being there physically is important: if you need to inspect a new facility or stare down a difficult supplier for example.  But much of the time a meeting could be as effective managed via teleconference, and cost you a lot less in time, money and energy.

We have recently assessed the videoconferencing offerings and GoToMeetings seems to be your best bet for the Australian market.  The cheapest plan is $65 per month, which is a lot less than a flight to Hong Kong (or Sydney for that matter).

If your travel is sporadic and you don’t want to commit to an annual plan, you can pay monthly and stop and restart your plan whenever you want.  It’s a bit fiddly, but very cost effective.

Shop around

These days, shopping around for the best priced travel is pretty easy.  There are a wide range of sites that let you compare rates for flights (webjet.com.au, skyscanner.com.au, farecompare.com, jetabroad.com.au), hotels (hotels.com, booking.com, expedia.com, lastminute.com, wotif.com) and car rental (webcarehire.com, DIYcarhire.com.au, vroomvroomvroom.com.au).

You might also want to look at sites like AirBnB, where locals offer their homes and apartments for short-term lease.  It can save on hotels and also gives you a chance to experience life as a local.

Book in advance

According to Corporate Traveller, business can reduce their air travel expenses by up to 72% simply by booking 3 weeks in advance rather than last minute.

Get organised and book as early as possible!

Look for corporate discounts

If your staff travel frequently then you may be eligible for a corporate discounts.  Ask!  The worst they can say is no.

If you use a travel agent they may be able to help you to get discounts and may even offer discounts themselves.

Join frequent flyer programs (but don’t let loyalty cost you)

Frequent flyer programs can be a trap.  If you are a member of one frequent flyer program and always want to fly that airline so you can collect points, then you may end up paying far more than you have to.

So join all the frequent flyer programs.  This way you will be earning points whenever you fly and over time you will earn free flights, without paying more for the privilege.

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