Previously, we discussed figuring out ways to make travel more affordable when attending educational events like the upcoming Foot Forward Summit. Here are some of my personal ways to save, figured out over the years as I travel. If you have some helpful hints, please be sure to share them with all of us in the comments!
Save your receipts! When you travel to an event for education, everything is tax deductible to you as a business, from the flight and hotel to food and luggage expenses. Keeping a detailed record of how and why you spent what you did will enable your accountant (or you) to figure things in appropriately.
Bottle your own water. I once calculated what I spent on bottled water and couldn’t believe how bad it was. From the overpriced bottle of water at the airport to convention centers, it was a pretty crazy amount. My trusty filtered Brita water bottle is now a constant companion. It filters the water at hotels and classes for me so that all I have to do is keep refilling it. The replacement filters last 3-6 months depending on your amount of use and balance out to be a mere fraction of what you spend on bottled water everywhere.
Look at your hotel for details that could signal some food packing is necessary. If the hotel has a restaurant or room service listed as amenities, this signals that there will be no free breakfast forthcoming. If you are ok with shelling out anywhere from $10-20 for breakfast then you will be good to go. If you prefer to live more on the frugal side, something you can do is travel with some food. Instant oatmeal comes in a wide variety of flavor types including low sugar or heart healthy mixes and is easy to make with hot water from the coffee pot found in all U.S. hotels. Snacks are handy and can keep you from getting too hungry between meals and starving at the end of the day, which leads to bad food choices and lack of concern for cost. My staples are nuts and jerky. They are extremely helpful at the airport and curb the impulse shopping brought on by hunger which can lead to a $4 pack of M&Ms. There are lots of options from dried fruits to granola bars that you can bring along.
With the Foot Forward Summit, you will have some meals included in your ticket for the event. They are a cocktail party Sunday night along with breakfast and lunch on Monday. This means you could plan a breakfast for Tuesday, or even Wednesday if you travel out then. For lunches or dinners, packaged meats like flavored tuna that do not need to be refrigerated can be helpful. Even things like ramen noodles or other hot water activated meals can be prepared with water heated in the coffee pot — just stick some plastic spoons in your bag. If you splurge for a dinner out, find someone to share a meal with. Think about it: Most restaurants in the US over-portion the food, and you most likely won’t take the leftovers back. If you split the cost and meal with a fellow nail friend, it makes things more affordable for you both in addition to eliminating wasted food. Call the hotel ahead of time to see if they offer microwaves as that could increase your options of prepackaged food to bring along.
If you expect to make a lot of purchases at your event, either take a spare bag to pack or a large priority flat rate box with postage. If you stop by a post office, the priority boxes are free and the flat rate box is a set amount for shipping so you can pre-purchase it to use. By simply packing a roll of packing tape, you can box up the extra stuff in your flat rate box and ask the hotel to let it be picked up by the mail carrier for you. If you prefer, taking an extra bag can also save you money, as the fees for an extra suitcase or duffel bag on the airlines are always much cheaper than flying with one bag that is overweight even by only a few pounds. Most hotels have a scale in the exercise room — don’t be afraid to go down and weigh your bag to be sure it is less than 50 pounds.
You will be surprised how much money something like planning water and some food can save you, giving you more money to spend on product or simply make the trip fit better into your budget. Hope these tips help and I look forward to seeing your suggestions and ideas in the comments!