Between coordinating travel and meeting dates with your team and clients, securing lodging, transportation, and airline tickets, and researching and reserving where to eat and entertain, you might start to feel like planning for a business trip is an art form. Get the most return for your time on the road by using technology to your advantage.
These six online tools and apps can save you time and money — and help you stay organized. They're also convenient and easy to use wherever you are on your smartphone or tablet. Here’s what you should be using to plan your next business trip.
Timing is everything when it comes to booking a flight at the best price. Hopper shows you the cheapest days to fly and when to buy your ticket for the best savings. Enter your destination and the dates of your trip, and Hopper tells you whether to buy now or wait. If it's the latter, tap on the binoculars icon, and the app will send you notifications as soon as the price drops. When you're ready, you can instantly purchase a ticket directly through the app. Save your personal information and payment details for faster booking on future flights.
Like a travel agent in your pocket, TripIt organizes all your travel details into one convenient itinerary. Forward your confirmation emails to the free app, and it pulls together info on flights, hotels, rental cars, restaurant reservations, and booked events. A simple tap of your smartphone allows you to access your itinerary at any time and make last-minute changes or updates, while adding photos, notes, or links. You can also sync your itinerary with an online calendar, such as Outlook or Google Calendar, and then share selective details with family, friends, or coworkers via email or social media.
A do-everything travel planner, Google Trips automatically gathers your travel details from Gmail and organizes them together in this smartphone app. Reservations for flights, hotels, restaurants, and rental cars get bundled in one easy-to-access location. The app can even auto-generate a customizable half- or full-day itinerary. And with the power of Google behind it, the app is capable of mapping out nearby restaurants, coffee shops, or hotels, and info on other nearby sights. The app works offline as well, so you don't have to worry if you're out of Wi-Fi or cell phone range.
To save time and accomplish all your business trip goals, you don't want bulky luggage to slow you down. PackPoint takes the thinking out of packing — and the risk of over-packing — by automatically generating a customized packing list before you go. Just enter your business trip details, such as destination, dates of travel, length of stay, and activities, and the app itemizes everything you need. PackPoint even checks the forecast, adding rain or snow gear to the list if needed.
Many business trips require driving, but keeping accurate track of mileage for expense accounts can be a headache. MileIQ logs your miles through its GPS-powered drive detection technology to help you easily determine the distance driven for business or personal use. The app automatically records miles when your car is in motion and pauses when you've stopped. Then, simply swipe right to record miles for business, or left for personal miles. You can also add details, such as parking fees, tolls, and other driving expenses.
Saving all those receipts while out on the road is a hassle. With Expensify, you simply use the app to take a smartphone photo of a receipt, and it's automatically added to your expense report, pulling the date, vendor, and dollar amount. Sync Expensify with your credit card account to match your scanned receipts with your card's charges. The app allows for rapid reporting and approval, and it comes with a direct deposit function for fast expense reimbursements into your bank account. You can also integrate the app with corporate expense policies, QuickBooks, and other accounting tools.
Mobile technology can make planning for business trips a breeze. Share your travel tips with us on our Facebook page.