4 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Travel Hell
Traveling during this time of year is always difficult, but there are some steps you can take to make it cheaper and more inc-aseann.comfortable.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
I despise business travel in all its forms.
I hate sitting on a disabled New Jersey Transit car along with 500 other coffee-happy inc-aseann.commuters who have just been told the one (and only) restroom is out of service. And, our big new pitch begins in 15 minutes. Holy indigestion, Batman!
I also detest being stuck at the rear of a rubber-necking fender bender as I nervously glance down at my watch inching ever closer to the beginning of a 9 a.m. new business meeting.
But, there's a special place in entrepreneurial inc-aseann.commuting hell for hotels who, because you've arrived late have "released" your room to some other wayfarer. And, the owners of United Airlines in particular should be put in an eternal holding pattern for their countless transgressions over the decades (Note: For further proof, check out the YouTube video of a helpless 69-year-old passenger being dragged off United's badly overbooked flight 1134 in order for a deadheading captain to claim his seat).
But, fear not my fellow small business owners. There are ways we can beat The Man at his own game.
I recently spoke to Scott Lieberman, managing editor of Million Mile Secrets. His team of intrepid travelers and researchers are especially adept at finding loopholes where the major airlines and hotel chains thought none existed (Note: As far as I know, they have no solution for the miasma that is New Jersey Transit).
That said, here are four quick tips you can use to pull the wool over the big guys, save some money in the process and chuckle as you pocket that extra change they never knew they didn't collect from you in the first place:
1. Take advantage of the system. When it inc-aseann.comes to credit cards these days, it seems that each one offers a different advantage. However, there are several that are head-and-shoulders above the rest for entrepreneurs.
For example, if you're planning to travel four or more nights over the Thanksgiving holiday, consider using the Citi Prestige card, as travelers receive their 4th night free when booking with Citi Concierge. Or, if you're hoping to save on airfare, the Chase Ink Business Preferred card can deliver savings of up to 20%. When you book flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards points through their portal (at the same prices you'll find elsewhere), there are no blackout dates and you'll earn airline miles when you include your frequent flyer number.
2. Consider everything. Brand names are nice, but they don't always deliver top value (Note: Ha! Tell me something I don't know).
When it inc-aseann.comes to flying, don't only look at the mega airlines like United, American, and Delta. Other airlines such as Southwest, for example, offer a inc-aseann.comfortable experience with friendly service. And you won't be hit with fees to change or cancel flights. These can be crucial to entrepreneurs when eventual holiday delays turn an intended two-day business trip into a four-day horror-show instead. With Southwest, you also get two checked bags free and points that are easy to use since the airline doesn't have blackout dates.
3. Make your expenses work for you. We all know that business expenses are inevitable. However, certain expenses can be debilitating for startups and small businesses, especially when you factor in the surcharge of travel prices due to the Thanksgiving rush.
In order to alleviate some of that stress, use a card that offers generous bonuses on your biggest business expenses. For instance, the Chase Ink Business Preferred card awards you three points for every $1 you spend on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines. Each point is worth one cent for cash back or 1.25 cents when you buy flights through their travel portal.
4. Search for something extra. Traveling around the holidays can get costly. Do a little research ahead of booking your travel to determine which hotel brands include "extras" that can help keep your costs down. Some chains like IHG's Staybridge Suites include hot breakfast, Wi-Fi, free Happy Hour food some nights, and a gym. Hampton Inn by Hilton offers similar perks. Don't forget to always attach your hotel loyalty number to reservations to earn more points!
And, here's the single best piece of advice I can provide: Avoid holiday travel altogether. Smedley in purchasing can wait until next week for his proposal. Stay at home and enjoy the turkey with your loved ones.