As part of my role with retail software company Vend I visit our retailers overseas to make case studies. Over a few trips, with a few tricky moments, I’ve discovered a few tips for getting the most out of work travel.
Here in part one of two, I focus on the travel and accommodation aspect.
Airbnb for Business
In places like San Francisco or New York or London, the costliest part of your travel is often the hotel. Holy heck they charge a lot for a little.
By using Airbnb for Business it can work out to be roughly half the cost of hotel rooms and, better yet, you get a nicer experience, for these two key reasons.
First, you can get a whole apartment complete with cooking facilities and laundry that allows you to economise and get twice as much wear from your clothing.
Second, you get to experience what it’s like to be an apartment dweller in a great city. It’s such a buzz to walk out the door with the people living in a place, into the hum of a morning commute and not being around those just passing through.
I’ve found this makes it more of an adventure and you feel a lot less homesick than when you are stuck in a sterile, generic hotel room.
One note, be sure to go for Airbnb for Business over regular Airbnb if you can. This is helpful as having the extras like a concierge at an apartment block can be handy if you have work items to be couriered, and for busy trips you really want to be sure that the place you stay has great Wi-Fi and clean linen. A subpar Airbnb can be more trouble than any saving is worth.
Now, Uber is not exactly a secret, but boy does it help when you travel.
Taxi drivers the world over love to play a couple of games with tired travellers carrying heaps of gear. One is the ‘oh, I don’t take credit cards / the machine is on the blink’ game, which makes expensing your trip a nightmare.
The second is the ‘longest route to the destination’ game, which is about as funny as campylobacter.
Uber fixes this.
You can get Uber for Business that makes expensing completely painless, and if you feel you’ve been led down a merry-path you can challenge the ride and seeing that the route is mapped, Uber can check and agree and comp your ride.
It really is amazingly better than taxis, and if there’s more than one person in your party it’s often cheaper to take an Uber than public transport for short rides.
A couple of important things to note: check to see if Uber is legal in the place you are visiting, as you don’t want to end up in a ride that is outside the law.
And the second thing is that in large cities you want to be careful which kind of Uber you hail. There are ride-sharing Ubers called Uber-pool which is a carpool version of the app where you might have some strangers jumping in and a strange route ahead, however it will be cheaper than going it alone.
To get around a big city you cannot rely on Uber alone. Public transport is most often the quickest and best route.
There are a few ways you can try to navigate a new city, but Citymapper is by far and away the best I’ve used.
There are a couple of factors that make this app the winner. First it gives you a bunch of options such as using buses only, for people that find the hustle and bustle of the underground networks a bit much.
And secondly it does a very cool thing where if you are on a subway it tells you whether to get on the front, middle, or back of a train. This is important as where you emerge from the underground determines how far away you are from your destination.
In a big station the wrong carriage can lead to the wrong exit and can mean 15 minutes of extra walking.
Citymapper holds your hand through the whole process and so is the best way to survive a new public transport system, hands-down.