Even when fuel costs spike, you can save on travel.
Smart business travelers know how to save money even when fuel costs spike. They do it because they don't assume anything.
The only thing that's safe to assume is that the face of travel is changing everywhere and all the time. For example, conventional wisdom says the major airlines are at a disadvantage when it comes to rising fuel prices. Reflexively, the "smart" business traveler might assume that a low-cost carrier (LCC) is the way to go.
The only problem is, both you and conventional wisdom would be wrong.
Assume only that you need to scan as many of the carriers that fly to your destination as time permits. That's because contrary to what you might think, LCCs do not always corner the market on the low pricing. In fact, legacy carriers are price-competitive in many markets. Here are some other tips to keep in mind when fuel prices spike:
Traveling within your budget means staying flexible and shopping around.
FLEXIBILITY. Figure out what is most important to you in any given travel situation. Is it time? Convenience? Price? Services? Comfort? Flexibility is a priceless asset, because the more flexible you are, the more pricing options you'll be able to consider.
COMPARE. Suppliers may offer different rates via different outlets. You should check traditional travel agents, online travel sites, and supplier websites for the best deal.
DON'T PEAK! Avoid peak travel times of the year, whether flying or driving or even taking the train. Not only is traffic more congested (hence you'll burn more time and gas getting there), but prices for hotels and car rentals are higher, and availability limited. Fliers worry about the day before Thanksgiving, but they really need to take into account the flights afterward. School vacation weeks impact travel, too, as do regional holidays and events. Consider a Google search or check local listings for event conflicts.
TRAVEL AGENCIES. Agents are an overlooked avenue to smart buying, whether fuel prices are up or down. You can let the experts do what they do best by using travel agencies that specialize in important areas such as particular types of travel. For example, some agents are expert meeting planners or group travel bookers, while others are expert in geographical regions or cultures. The right agent can save you time, money, and hassles.
Prices are up, so finding affordable lodging can be a challenge; here's how:
Travel on the highway presents a host of options:
GOING CORPORATE. If you're booking travel through your company, you can save big-time by taking advantage of negotiated corporate rates. These can be far lower than many published rates, depending on the amount of business your company does with specific travel suppliers. Also, as the traditional demarcation between business and leisure gets blurred, you'll want to see if special air, car, and/or hotel travel packages are available.
Smart travel in times of fluctuating fuel costs means looking at the bottom line. Ask yourself what the total cost of your trip really is. Then strategize the most economical ways to get there and back. Leave your options open. Don't assume any one travel mode is inherently better than any other. Weigh cost against convenience. If you are flexible, creative, and do your homework, you'll be able to find the services you need, the comfort you want, and the productivity you expect at the price you demand.