Since I took off from New York City to build my businesses, I haven't had a permanent home in over two years and have stayed exclusively in Airbnbs and hotels. But it's not as expensive as you may think.
When I embraced the digital nomad lifestyle, I knew I needed to hack the travel system for it to work. These are my top three travel hacks for saving thousands of dollars each year on business travel and accommodations.
1. Negotiate With Airbnb Hosts
One little known secret about Airbnb is that you can negotiate with hosts. This email always works well:
Your place looks great but it's sadly a bit out of my budget. I would be interested in booking multiple nights. Would you accept $X for this time period? Completely understand if that's not possible, I want to be respectful of your time and rates.
Make sure the email is personalized and respectful. This works well when you're booking last minute and you can see if the host has a few weeks or even an entire month of availability. Using this tactic, I've been able to save hundreds of dollars off my monthly rent or as much as $50 on a nightly rate. Negotiate and you'll be pleasantly surprised--around 90 percent of the hosts I've sent messages to have been flexible.
2. Find Luxury Bargains by Surfing the Web
When I went to Budapest for work, I used an online discount site to stay in a five-star hotel for as little as $21 per night. Sites like Hotwire and Priceline allow you to choose your location and quality of hotel, but don't let you see the name until you book. This allows big brands like Intercontinental and Hilton to offer discounts without diluting their brands. Using discount sites, I've saved 20-60 percent off the regular rates.
Other sites, including Booking.com or Hotels.com, offer perks like late check-out or a free night for volume bookings. When I'm traveling consistently for work, the reward nights add up and amount to a big savings at the end of the year.
3. Sign Up for Reward Programs
In the early days of building my business, I couldn't afford to fly anywhere for meetings. But that didn't stop me. Through credit card hacking (the legal kind), I traveled everywhere from London to Brazil for under $10. How travel hacking works is you open up a card that has a great points reward and low or zero-dollar annual fee for the first year.
Many cards will give you anything from 10,000 to 100,000 points, which can be enough to book you an international flight. Using these methods, I've flown to places like London or Buenos Aires only paying the $5 tax. If the card is offering a $0 annual fee for the first year and the second year comes around, just call up the company and tell then you'd like to be downgraded to the next level. Financial planners recommend paying off the balances each month but keeping the accounts open so it doesn't hurt your credit rating.
No matter if you've been traveling for years or just getting started, these tips can work for you. What are you waiting for? Take the savings and hit the road!