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Business travel: Use ‘5-hour rule’ in drive vs. fly decision

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More small business travelers now are hitting the highways to avoid the hassles and costs of fly i n g. It can be a smart option, especially if your clients are within 400 miles of your headquarters.
Thirty-five percent of companies now require or strongly recommend that employees drive instead of fly, according to a Travel Industry Association survey. That’s twice the number that relied on road travel in a previous study.
To plan a cost-conscious trek, follow the “five-hour rule.” If it takes less than five hours to drive to your destination, then it’s going to be less time-consuming to hit the road than the skies. A road trip makes even more sense if two or more colleagues travel together.
More group business travel is taking place on the roads today. Proof: One of the most competitive areas for the online travel industry is the market for groups. Example: Colorado based Grouple (, which helps plan and negotiate travel, hotels and car rentals for groups.

Three more cost-saving tips
1. Stay in the suburbs. When driving on business , avoid exorbitant downtown hotel parking rates (you can pay as much as $50 a night in some New York or San Francisco locations). Instead, consider limited-service hotels in the suburbs. Most offer free parking, free breakfast and free high-speed Internet. If you must be down t own, look for suburban hotels near commuter rail stops.
2. Take advantage of corporate plans.
You don’t have to be a big company to take advantage of the corporate programs of big-name t ravel and car- rental companies. Several have substantially revamped their plans with budget conscious small businesses in mind. Example: Travelocity Business expanded its network  of discounted travel partners to target small firms.
3. Shop off airport grounds for rental cars. You can save money by renting a car outside the airport locations. Reason: They don’t tack on the additional taxes and fees often tied to airport rentals.

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