As I progress more and more in my business ventures and entrepreneurial journey, I find myself travelling and staying away from home several times a month for “work”.
I used to be very “wooden” when it came to booking a hotel, planning my travel, and spending money for working away. However, I’ve found – as I’ve become more and more comfortable with heading into London and so forth – I’ve picked up several tips and techniques from colleagues that have helped me travel more comfortably, with less costs, and a lot less “wooden”.
What I mean by “wooden” is I used to have the mentality that, if I knew I was visiting somewhere for work in a week’s time, I had to book a hotel ASAP before every single room in London was fully booked, I had to book trains in advance and work out how many taxis it would take me, and I had to figure out what it would cost way in advance. Otherwise, I would panic closer to the time.
I’m not saying I’m a well-travelled person, far from it, but I’ve picked up some useful tips that really help me stay more relaxed and get the most out of business travel:
Do Late Check-Ins
DON’T BOOK YOUR HOTEL IN ADVANCE!
As I said above, I used to always have to book my hotels way in advance to not run the risk of every single hotel room available in London being booked up and me having to sleep on the streets. Let’s face it – although a lot of people may think the way I did – the truth of the matter is, if you’re going anywhere that’s close to a big city, there are plenty of hotel rooms to go around. Now, the tip here is to wait until the actual day of your stay whereby you’ll find that the hotels will be selling off their unallocated rooms at a very discounted price.
For example, we normally stay in the same hotel when we visit London, as it’s very convenient to get onto the motorway after and before our stay. We used to always book the hotel in advance and it would normally cost us on average £180 a night for a twin room for my business partner and myself. However, we decided to try our luck one day and rang up the hotel en route to London on the day of our stay, and due to the fact they had a few rooms left over for that evening, they gave us the price of £90. That’s a huge 50% discount just for NOT booking in advance.
I’m not saying this always works, but if this hotel is booked up, there are plenty more around the same area and one of them will offer us a discounted room on the day. We now NEVER book in advance.
Failing the above and failing to find a late hotel room (which is possible), another amazing tip is to check out Airbnb. I’m sure that I’m far from the first person to be telling you about this, but Airbnb is a great place to book last minute trips on your phone.
Airbnb is also great for when you’re attending a conference or meeting as a group. Say for example you and your team or partners are all travelling to an event, you can save LOTS of money by booking an Airbnb place that can accommodate your entire team for one price. The other great thing about Airbnb is that you can stay in really quirky places that hotels just can’t offer. The fact that these are actually people’s homes or spaces allows you to find something really different and special for your stay.
For example, last year when my friends and I attended Stack That Money London event, we clubbed together and 6 of us rented an entire luxury townhouse in central London for £100 per person for a 3-night stay. Putting that into context, even if we all paid £90 a night in the hotel above for 3 nights, it would have cost us £1620, but instead it cost us a total of £600 to rent this luxury house worth several millions in the centre of London.
The other great thing is everything is paid for online. You don’t need to take out your cash or card as it’s all done prior to your stay.
It’s also a great app for getting away with friends and family. I’m especially looking forward to taking my girlfriend and friends to our luxury yacht rental in the next coming months.
So you’ve found your accommodation, but how do you get around?
Well as I said in the intro of this piece, I used to constantly worry about how I would get around the city when I got there. I’d grab oyster train cards, get taxi credits, and make sure I had cash on me and more, just to guarantee I could get around when I needed to. Uber saved my life!
Again, I’m not going to be the first person to tell you about Uber, but for those of you reading this who haven’t made the leap, do it now! If you’ve been living in a cave and haven’t heard of it, Uber is basically a car service whereby you can use your phone to set a pick-up location and a drop-off destination, and then someone will turn up to pick you up and take you to your destination. The other beautiful thing about Uber is that again no cash is needed; it’s all done via your PayPal and you simply receive an invoice via your email once your journey is finished.
I now use nothing but Uber, whether it’s a long or short journey. After messing around on tubes, taxis and buses, it’s so much easier and more convenient to call an Uber and sit in a comfy car. Another tip is, if you want to save money, take a look at Uber’s new “pooling” feature whereby you can share/split the fare with people close by.
Put Everything through the Business
If you’re on business, then put everything on your business card.
I’d highly suggest that you get a business card that offers you rewards and points each time you spend. Basically, everything you do on your trip should go on your business account, from your hotels to your Uber rides to your food.
Be prepared and make sure you have a business bank account, card, and PayPal. Hook your Uber account up to your business PayPal account, same with Airbnb, and be sure that anything you spend goes on your business card so that you can claim the expenses back when it comes to doing your tax return. Also, putting everything on your card that gives you rewards will in return give you points and discounts off your next trip or stay.
Take the Train
I sit here writing this blog post on the train back to Bristol from my latest trip to London.
I could have stayed a few more hours in town and travelled back with my partner in the car, but then that’s two hours in the car lost, whereby I could sit on a train and be very productive. I’m even amazed to find out that this time I have Wi-Fi on the train. Yes, Wi-Fi…on…the…train!
The train journey, to me, is the perfect opportunity to focus on something that I haven’t been able to give my time to recently. For example, as you can read in my latest growth report, last month I only had time to write 3 blog posts whereas I’ve been trying to hit my 4 posts a month target since I started my blog in June. So a two-hour train journey with my MacBook is the perfect time and place to write my blog post for this week.
People are different, and although I have two seriously annoying guys chatting complete shit on the seats next to me, I’ve been able to write this entire blog post within my journey and haven’t lost those 2 hours travelling in the car.
I guess that’s a good enough point to end this post. What tips can you share that help you when travelling for business?