Travel like a business owner, frugally!

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People who don’t travel a lot will often think of business travel as exotic. Interesting cities, beautiful hotels, restaurant meals, everything seems so much better than the “mundane” daily existence they live!

Then there are the people who actually travel for business, whose perspective might be a little different. Longer hours, no home cooked meals, missing their own bed, hotels are all the same when all you do is use them for sleeping and showering, restaurant meals get old and then there is time away from family. Exposure to germs and people you might not choose to meet isn’t often mentioned, but just as disconcerting! Too often you find yourself on an airplane where you are invariably seated next to a grown person who is spilling out into your space and has a very obvious cold!

Now that I’ve put business travel in context, it’s a valuable and necessary activity for any business that has multiple locations or even just clients in multiple locations.

Business owners approach travel with the goal of meeting their business needs in the most efficient and “cost effective” way possible! Here are some business travel tips from a business owner:

“Beware of small expenses; a small leak will sink a large ship.” Benjamin franklin

  1. Reserve in advance! Last minute trips are expensive … and don’t allow you to plan your days as efficiently as possible.
  2. Look at the travel options … don’t go with the same airline all the time just to collect points! In Canada, I could travel with Westjet, Air Canada or Porter depending on the price, convenience and my travel needs for a given trip.
  3. Be thrifty with hotel reservations. Usually it’s just a bed and a shower. You don’t need the most expensive hotel. I find a reasonable, convenient place for my meetings. I often use sites like Hotwire to get great rates and get friends who use airbnb.
  4. Limit travel to business hours. I get early morning flights when heading west and late evening flights when heading east. This means that I can maximize my time at my destination. For example, if I leave Toronto at 7 a.m. or earlier, I can arrive in Calgary or Vancouver around 9 a.m. local time, which gives me a full day in that city.
  5. Take care of your body. Eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise. You don’t even need a gym to work out! Push-ups, sit-ups, squats, lunges, stairs, etc. are all good exercises that you can do anywhere.
  6. Travel with hand sanitizer. In the “germinal environments” of airplanes and hotels, it makes sense to act like a healthcare professional. Wash your hands often!
  7. Travel with supplements. You probably won’t get the nutrients you get from your regular diet, so pack in vitamins, ColdFX, and even pain relievers. This will help you stay healthier and therefore more efficient.
  8. Limit your alcohol intake. It’s easy to let that slip away when visiting colleagues and clients in other cities. Show restraint, your body will thank you.
  9. Take equipment with you that will make your travel time efficient. Catch up on your reading, create a reading file with photocopies or cutouts of articles. Put material on your Kindle, iPad, or other reader.
  10. Travel light. Learn how to pack efficiently and think about your wardrobe … if you can travel with only hand luggage, you will save time and aggravation. (Teach us an iron … there is one in most hotel rooms).
  11. Spend like it’s your own money. As a business owner, it’s your own money! Tip appropriately, but not in an extravagant way. Choose restaurants that are reasonable but not crazy. Take the team out for a few drinks, but don’t make it overnight.

“Entrepreneurship is living a few years like most people won’t. So that you can live the rest of your life like most people can’t.” Unknown

These are lessons I have learned over the past 18 years as an owner and operator of my own business.

What advice do you have to share?

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