Once I began to sit down and take a look at my receipts and my bank statements, I realised I had spent a great deal on 'expenses' that never really entered my head while I was away travelling.
So, to save you the added expenses, here are my top 5 tips to ensure you don't get charged more than you need to be:
1. Don't end up overtipping
The number of times I get into a cab or let the porter carry my bags, only to realise I don't have any small change. To save the embarassment of asking the person in question to break a large note, I end up giving them a bigger tip than I would have liked. Crazy I know, so now on arrival, I always ask the hotel reception to break a large note down into small local currency. That way I always have the right change for tips.
Another thing to check before arrival is what percentage is deemed acceptable for various tips: bellyboys, taxis, restaurants, bars etc. A google search at home should help.
2. Be sneaky with the mini-bar in your hotel room
Now this is a sneaky one! There's nothing worse than being hungry in your room and being forced to pay over the odds for nuts, snacks and drinks form the mini-bar - daylight robbery!
What I do is work out what time my room tends to get serviced. Then I'll take things from the mini-bar, like snacks and water, and make sure I replace the same articles back the next morning, before housekeeping arrives to check the fridge inventory. It works a treat, and saves you the hotel mark-ups on food and drink!
3. Visit the local shops for breakfast
The number of times I've been stung for a hotel breakfast that was nothing more than coffee, toast, jam and fruit. Believe me, $25 for that kind of breakfast is a scandal! So, what I do now is buy what I need from a local supermarket or shop - fruit, ham, bread, peanut butter and tomatoes. I pop them into the room fridge and then I can eat breakfast when I like, without leaving my room - giving me enough time to exercise in the morning.
4. Check the hotel internet rates and then go online
Ideally, check in to a hotel that offers inclusive wi-fi with your room. Going online to find local restaurants, shops, offices and other desired destinations saves a whole load of money that could be wasted on fruitless taxi-rides. I've spent so much money in the past on cab rides to places that turned out to be no good or requiring reservations, forcing me to flag down another cab to take me back to my hotel to start all over! Save time and money and find out what's good online.
Use review sites like Tripadvisor.com for real reviews and tips.
5. DOUBLE CHECK your bill at the end of your stay
I've been guilty of checking out in a hurry. I hand reception my card, punch in my number and then stuff the receipt into my jacket as I run for a cab, without so much as checking the total. After being stung for several items, I now check the itemised bill before I hand over payment. Believe me, in the past I have unwittingly paid for room service, drinks, papers and laundry that I never asked for or received. With several hundred rooms to monitor, these things happen, so check before you sign.
I hope you found my 5 tips useful?
Put them into practice and they could well save you money that you could put to better use, like buying loved ones gifts or buying snacks for the plane, train or car ride home.
What tips do you have for saving money on business trips, besides not going in the first place? :-)
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