Use frequent flyer miles wisely, book well in advance and go online to find bargains. These are just some of the tactics Theo Brandt-Sarif says will help you survive your next business trip — financially and psychologically.
Doctor, consultant and co-author of Guerilla Travel Tactics: Hundreds of simple strategies guaranteed to save road warriors time and money, Brandt-Sarif ranks amongst the busiest of business travelers (he has traveled more than eight million miles to 30 countries on six continents). And while he admits he’d sometimes rather stay home, Brandt-Sarif says if you play your cards right, business travel can be cheap and pleasurable. Here are his favorite travel strategies:
- Plan as far in advance as possible
Making arrangements early is the single most important strategy you can use to consistently travel where you want, when you want, at the lowest possible price. “When you know what you are doing well in advance, you have the luxury of waiting for a sale,” says Brandt-Sarif. “Airlines seem to have them at least every three months and there is no reason business travelers can’t take advantage of them.”
- Be flexible
Getting what you want is important, but being a little flexible can reap tremendous travel benefits. If it fits your schedule, keep an open mind when you’re choosing flight dates and times, and consider making stops along the way and opting for alternative (nearby) airports.
- Go online
“The Internet has changed travel. Become a savvy user and you can shop around for the best price,” says Brandt-Sarif. It comes down to choice. “Researching and booking online offers a huge selection of airfares, hotels and car rentals.”
- Achieve airline and hotel “elite” status
Hotels and airports thrive on repeat customers. Travel on the same major airline and stay in the same hotel chain whenever possible, and you’ll achieve elite status. In the air, this can mean business or first-class check-in, bonus miles for every trip and the opportunity to receive upgrades on domestic flights, either free or for a nominal fee. Hotels offer room upgrades and bonus hotel points.
- Use frequent-flyer miles and hotel points wisely
Don’t waste frequent-flyer miles on cheaper domestic trips. Get the highest return on them by redeeming them for premium travel — meaning business or first class — on international trips or for last-minute flights, which can be very expensive. Similarly, reserve your hotel points for luxury hotel accommodations. Finally, use mileage-earning credit cards.
“Every serious road warrior should carry at least one mileage-earning affinity card, and many airlines, hotels, and car rental companies offer bonus miles and points to travelers using a specific credit card,” says Brandt-Sarif. “Use those affinity cards for everyday purchases such as groceries, gas and drugstores — the miles really mount up.”
- Optimize coach-class comfort
Make coach more enjoyable by bringing your own reading materials and gourmet snacks. Also try to choose seating that maximizes your chance for room to spread out, recommends Brandt-Sarif “Nobody wants to sit at the back of the plane. So if you ask for seats there, chances are you will get two or three to yourself.”
- Consider low-cost airlines
No frills doesn’t necessarily mean no fun, but most low-cost airlines do cut corners with no pre-assigned seating, no first-class cabin or limited food options. However, some major airline carriers are employing no-frill plans that still offer select amenities such as more legroom and traditional frequent-flyer programs.
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