11 Ways Business Travel Helps Your Wallet


Business travel is a love/hate relationship for many people. On the one hand, you get to visit new cities and live on the company's dime. On the other, you could be away from home — and friends and family — for an extended period of time.

One of the bright sides of business travel, however, is that you have the chance to save the money you're earning — sometimes a lot of money — because you don't have to spend your own dough on transportation, lodging, or food while you're working. And those are just the obvious savings. Take a look at several more budget-boosters that may have you looking at business travel in a whole new light:

1. Saving on Gasoline

Gas is in a sweet spot at the moment (enjoy it now before the summer season inevitably drives the price up), so you're not saving as much money as you were a few years ago, but any money you can keep in your pocket and away from the pump is a win. Let your company cover the fuel costs while you're on the road, while your vehicle takes a breather in the garage.

2. Giving Your Car a Break

Speaking of taking a breather, the downtime your vehicle gets thanks to your business travel means that you're not putting as much wear and tear on it from everyday use. You might not see savings from the reduction in use right away, but statistically your car should experience fewer issues since you're not pitting it against the elements (and crazy drivers) on a daily basis.

3. Potentially Lowering Insurance Rates

Since your vehicle will be safely cooped up in its cocoon while you're traveling, there are less opportunities for accidents, not to mention you're putting fewer miles on it over the course of the year and its lifetime. Some insurance companies reward drivers for clean records over a period of time, which is just one more way you can slash your transportation budget.

4. Expensing Road Items on a Rewards Card

Not all companies require business travel expenses to be paid for with a company-issued credit card. In fact, many companies allow you to put your travel expenses on your own card, for which you're reimbursed after you submit an expense report at the end of the month. If that's the case, it's important to choose a really great credit card with a generous rewards program. Think about it: You don't have to pay for anything you're charging out of your pocket, and you can essentially make more money as a result of it, depending on how you cash in your rewards. It really doesn't get any better than that. (See also: Best Travel Rewards Cards)

5. Racking Up Air and Hotel Points

An important rule of business travel — as those in the know will tell you — is to always sign up for loyalty programs. If you're flying the friendly skies or staying in hotels frequently, the points will add up quickly. Unless you're working for a cheap-o who requires you to use points for future business expenses — which is a jerk move, no bones about it — you can treat those points as your own. Fiji, here you come. (See also: Best Hotel Credit Cards)

6. Reducing Your Grocery Bill

Since the company will be picking up your meals, your grocery bill will be significantly reduced — though this does require careful consideration to maximize the savings. First, if you know you'll be on the road for a few days or more, limit your purchase of fresh produce that you may not have time to eat; you don't want your money rotting away in the fridge. Second, limit your trips to the supermarket altogether if you can make do with what's already in your pantry or fridge before you embark on a trip.

7. Pocketing the Food Stipend

Instead of using your meal stipend on food, try to take advantage of free eating opportunities. There's generally food available at conferences and more intimate meetings — especially breakfast and lunch — that you can consume in lieu of finding something on your own. In those cases, if your company allows it, you can pocket the difference.

I have a friend who works for the government who uses this tactic when she's abroad for weeks on end, and she often comes home with a hefty sum pocketed.

8. Lowering Home Energy Costs

This savings typically only applies to single people, as they leave their homes alone during periods of travel. To shave a little more off the bill, unplug non-essential appliances so they're not sucking out unnecessary energy, and turn the heat down to 55 degrees. If you have a family or a roommate, you're SOL in this scenario. Sorry 'bout it.

9. Spending Less Disposable Income

What do you typically do after work when you're not on the road? Probably run errands, go shopping, and engage in recreational activities — all of which cost money. There are fewer opportunities for this kind of downtime while you're traveling for business, because there's generally no need for it. If you're not spending money, you're saving money — and it'll help you feel less guilty when you get home and splurge on that impulse buy you just have to have.

10. Stocking up on Toiletries

Save money on shampoo, conditioner, lotion, mouthwash, toothpaste — basically whatever small toiletries the hotel provides — by taking them home with you. Build up enough stock and you won't have to buy these items for quite a while.

11. Pushing All That Extra Money to Savings

Since you've saved a decent amount of coin during your business travels, it's easy to go home and start spending without caution, but that totally negates the in-the-black path you've forged. Make smart moves with that stashed cash — like investments — and you might be able to retire early someday. One can hope, at least.

Do you have other ideas on how business travel can boost your budget? Let me know in the comments below.

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Guest's picture

There's nothing better than hotel shampoos.

Guest's picture

I like all but #10. Don't steal the hotel shampoo. It's for your use when you are a guest with the hotel, right?

Guest's picture

Don't forget to visit friends in these far-off places, maybe even extend your trip and you can cross that future trip you were going to take to visit them off your list and the travel was free. Some companies let you expense extra days up to any savings in air travel costs by including a weekend.

Use the remote location as a starting point for a vacation. If work sends you to London, then add Paris for a vacation where the company covered most of the travel costs. It's extra cost but less than it would cost you to take the whole trip out of your pocket.