Travel expenses can eat up your budget faster than you can say three-day weekend, but there’s always a way to get something on the cheap.
The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur came out one year ago this week, and since then I’ve traveled the world talking to entrepreneurs both successful and soon-to-be, and it’s been quite a ride. Along the way I’ve discovered some TPE-style frugal travel tips. Here are a few of my fave tips about saving big at hotels:
1. Stay at a cheap hotel. Not rocket science, I know, but so many people stay at hotels recommended by conventions and seminars, and end up paying through the nose. As long as you can get where you need to go without paying a fortune, stay at the safest cheap hotel you can find.
2. Stay at a hotel with free airport transport. Before you book your hotel, find out if they offer free bus or shuttle service to and from the hotel.
3. Negotiate room charges. Even if your hotel appears to be the least expensive option, try to negotiate a lower rate. Nothing has ever been lost by asking. Call to book your rooms and ask for a lower price or a free upgrade. If the answer is no, hang up and try someone else.
4. Get a good deal on a great hotel. If you have a VERY good reason for staying at a nice hotel, use Hotwire to get the best rate. The key is you have to gamble a little. Go online just a few days before your check-in date when the hotels have just released additional rooms.
5. Get on the list. As soon as you know you’re for sure going on a trip, get on email subscriber lists for that city’s department of tourism for deals and special offers delivered right to your email box.
6. Rent an apartment. If you plan to stay for a week or longer, try renting an apartment. There are a number of online rental services like HomeAway that can save you big bucks, especially if you are traveling overseas. You’ll likely have free wireless Internet, a kitchen and parking. And if you are really cutting edge frugal, do a “house swap”. There are many sites on the internet that facilitate the exchange of homes and apartments. While you are away, someone stays in your place and you stay in theirs. Both of you pay $0.00 in housing costs.
7. Rent a house. If you’re traveling with a group, go in a house rental together and save even more dough.
8. Get free Internet. Most cheap hotels have free in-room Internet. (I don’t get it, but the big boys make you pay extra.) If you can’t get free Internet, walk over to the nearest Barnes and Noble or Starbucks to get it. If you’re in a small town, head for the local library for free Internet.
9. Can’t afford the hotel? Check out hostels or couchsurfing.com. There’s always a way. Trust me.
10. Have the airport chauffeur you! And here is the most frugal move of all. If you are going to a meeting at an expensive hotel with shuttle access to the airport, do this: Stay at the cheap hotel also with a shuttle, and use the two shuttles to move you from hotel to hotel, using the airport as your “hub.” And the best part… there are bathrooms, snacks and usually internet access at the airport for any last minute needs!
Stay tuned for more frugal travel tips. And let me know if you’ve got a moneysaving secret you’d like to share with your fellow TPEs.