Luxury Business Travel on the Cheap

Do you need to travel into the USA for work to meet clients? Is the low Canadian dollar and exchange rate killing your company’s travel account? Listen up for some easy tips on how to save money and have a great time while you travel.

Recently, I traveled through the US on a business trip for Canstrat and did a fair amount of research on how I could save money. During my trip, I stayed in what would be considered luxury accommodations by hotel standards, taxied in Mercs and Denali’s, ate great food, and saved thousands of dollars for my company. Okay maybe not thousands of dollars, but definitely over a grand – you get the point.

Traveling in style doesn’t have to be expensive. People do it everyday with a frugal intensity that would put some bean counters to shame. If you ever want to learn how to travel really cheap, talk to an Australian. Or, take advantage of some wonderful technologies like Expedia, Hopper, Airbnb, Uber, OpenTable and Yelp.

The Best Ways to Travel Cheap

Use the Right Credit Card

First off, let’s talk about what type of plastic you’re using for your company expense account. If you travel and your company credit card doesn’t belong to a travel rewards program, stop reading and go bother your finance manager right now.

Go on I’ll wait.

All done? Good, now you can start collecting those points to pay for future flights. If you’re lucky enough to use your own credit card for company expenses then you definitely want to belong to a travel rewards program. Your company could very well pay for your next trip to Vegas!

Now that you got the plastic figured out, let’s look at flights.

Book Flights Online

I am a fan of Expedia. They are one of the largest travel companies in the world; owning other major brands such as,, Trivago, Travelocity, and Orbitz. I have always found Expedia to be an excellent way to book multi-city flights because you can string different airlines together to ensure you always get the cheapest price. Priceline and its subsidiaries, like Kayak, are also a excellent resources for flights.

Another great tool for timing your trips is to use analytical and predictive flight price apps like Hopper. This app looks at current and past airline ticket prices, then shows you the best dates to travel. You can also save trips and dates so that the app notifies you when the price drops and book your flight right in the app. The reviews for this app are a bit mixed right now, but I honestly see this as the future of flight booking.

Try Alternative Accommodations

Alright, now on to the fun stuff.

One of the perks about traveling is that you can stay in a cool downtown hotel, in a major metropolitan city, and take in the sights – all on the company’s dime. If you think I am being serious, you’re half right.

Airbnb has got to be one of the coolest travel apps out there and, I can’t say enough good things about it. Yes, there is the dark side of Airbnb that pops up in the news once in a while, but most of those stories are about terrible guests – not the hosts. Airbnb is a service that allows hosts with spare rooms, apartments or houses to offer accommodation at a significantly reduced cost of a hotel. This is where I really saved a lot of money for my company. The price difference is shocking. I stayed in trendy downtown hotels in several major US cities, for $100-$150 CAD a night. Most hotels located in the same areas started at $200 a night and went up.

Airbnb has some safety features as well to help ensure your hosts are not axe murderers. Another cool feature is the mutual review system whereby a review of the host can only be completed by other Airbnb guests who have actually stayed at the host’s accommodations. This stops hosts from paying for fake reviews in order to charge more. The host must also review the guest which builds up your credibility which makes it likelier for you to score a nice accommodation in the future. Many hosts pride themselves on excellent personalized service with beautiful homes and are generally all really nice people to meet.

Get Around in Style

Though it doesn’t have the best reputation in Canada, Uber in the US is all the rage and the preferred method of transportation for most individuals. Most of my Uber rides were in new cars with leather seats and very interesting people. The cost varies from city to city, but overall I probably saved about half of what I would have paid to taxi around. Uber uses surge pricing which fluctuates based on current demand, but the app has a cost estimation feature so you know if it may actually be cheaper to take a taxi. The app is very easy to figure out and I highly recommend using it on your next trip south of the border.

Find the Best Dining Deals

Food can both be one of the best and worst parts of traveling. I know when I return from traveling, that first home cooked meal is delicious. With websites or apps like OpenTable, Yelp and Zomato it is a lot easier to eat on the cheap while still having healthy, delicious choices.

I usually set my price to $$ and see what pops up closest, check the reviews, pick my restaurant and off I go. I found a little Thai restaurant in OKC that was the best Thai food I have had since being in Thailand.

Another effective way to save money is to chase the weekly deals that pub restaurants offer. I found many pubs that offered deals like $6 for a burger, fries and beer – even with the exchange rate that is still a steal. Overall food in the US seems to be cheaper, but be careful of the upsizes, extras or add-ons because they can really hike up the price.

That’s it really. If you’re willing to step outside your comfort zone of using traditional Canadian airlines, taxis, chain hotels and the restaurants attached to them, you can travel in style and save some money too.