Workplace blogs

The Shoestring Traveler – Travel on a Tight Budget

Remember the days working for a large company when you had a little perk known as a “travel budget”?  This wonderful tool allowed you to do two things: number one: travel, and, more  bigstock-Success-Questions-44181952importantly, number two: get reimbursed for your travel expenses. Without number 2, there was no number 1. Life was indeed good.

I remember those heady days on the road with fondness. The limousine drivers named Jacques . . . the five star hotels with a doorman named Jacques . . . the fancy restaurants with a snotty maitre d’ named Jacques.

But now, like you, I run a business out of my home. And like me, you must be wondering, where are all the Jacques? Traveling on a home office budget just isn’t what it used to be. (Unless you consider hitchhiking to Taber, Alberta and camping out in the back parking lot of Bob’s Meat Emporium similar to what it used to be).

So what’s a home office business owner to do? You still need to travel, but let’s face it, traveling can stretch (read: wipe out) your budget. (Assuming you have a budget to wipe out. If you don’t budget, then please, travel at will and enjoy yourself.)   Relax,  my fellow home-rooted road warriors, help is on the way.  Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks that can save you literally tens of dollars on your next trip.

  1. Flying on the Fly: You have a few options here to save some money (however, be warned, one of the options involves not flying really so much as cruising down a highway in the back of a bus). First, if you want the cheap seats, you’ll have to book early. If you haven’t already booked for the spring of 2009, you’re already too late for the good deals.Another option is to offer the airlines some help. Tidying up the airplane cabin, serving drinks or loading the luggage could confer you some discounts with many of the cash-strapped airlines.Finally, I’d recommend flying WestJet Airlines as a way to watch your pennies. And no, I’m not simply saying that just because I’ve done some work with WestJet. What sort of person would take advantage of their regular column to endorse a business, even if that business (in this case, WestJet Airlines) just happens to offer terrific value with fun, friendly, quality guest service?  Really, please, give me more credit than that.
  2. Eating on Your Trip. My advice: don’t. Eating can kill your budget, and let’s face it, who doesn’t need to drop a few pounds? Think of it not so much as starvation, but rather as a wonderful dieting program that you’d otherwise pay a small fortune to experience.If you feel that somehow food is a necessity, then pack along some freeze-dried, NASA-approved goodies. (This will also help make your next trip to Kenora more exciting by helping you pretend you’re an astronaut). And my best tip: find the nearest supermarket where you can wander about aimlessly for hours slowly filling up on the free samples being offered by the free sample people. They want you to eat it, that’s why they’re there. And the food is free. Hence the phrase “free samples”. Isn’t the world a good place?
  3. Accommodation. Why would you sleep in a hotel when you can sleep on the bus, plane or in the back of someone’s pick up truck? Unless you’re a freelance mattress tester, sleeping in some comfy hotel is not going to help you build your business. Use this unproductive time to travel, where you can sleep and be moved from one part of the country to another at the same time. If it works for luggage, why wouldn’t it work for us?

One final option to mull over: Forget air travel and hotels altogether.  I’ve got two words for you –  road trip. Sure, Canada is a big place, but if you give yourself enough time, you can reach almost any destination within a good solid week or two (or maybe three, you should allow some time for getting lost and for breakdowns). If the client can’t understand why you can’t meet them sooner, simply explain that you are tied up with other clients that are far more important. By packing along your own food and a sleeping bag, you’ve effectively taken care of accommodation, airfare and meals in one cheap swoop.

Happy trails. Don’t forget to pack an extra shoestring.

Copyright Michael Kerr. Michael Kerr is a Hall of Fame international business speaker, very funny motivational speaker, trainer, and author of six books, including Inspiring Workplaces and The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank.


Copyright © 2018, Michael Kerr. All rights reserved.
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