How to Make the Most of Your Travel Budget

4 savvy tips to save money on your next ministry trip

It's not uncommon for my husband, Leif, and I to spend more than 200 days a year travelling for work. We bounce from airports to rental car terminals to hotels and back home on a regular basis, and along the way we've discovered a few tips to stretching our travel budget—enjoying better hotels, rental cars, and amenities for a fraction of the cost.

Need an example? We recently stayed in a Westin Hotel for $52.00 per night and rented a mid-size car for $12.00 a day.

Whether you're attending a leadership conference, engaging in educational enrichment, or organizing a much-needed staff getaway, how can you make your travel budget go further than it ever has before?

Here are four ways to save money on your next ministry trip.

1. Know the secret to bidding on your next hotel. Our favorite way to find great lodging at low prices is through Priceline.com, where we always bid for unknown hotels—but we never do it blindly.

Our secret weapon?

A wonderful site known as BiddingforTravel.com. This independent site is designed specifically to help give those using Priceline a bidding strategy. Message boards contain information on all the hotels in any star-rating in a given area, recently accepted bids, counteroffers, and free-rebids.

I recommend staying away from Hotwire.com. They base their hotel ratings on customer reviews, not actual hotel standards. We've bid on 4-star hotels from this site and stayed in some real dives.

2. Consider renting an apartment, condo, or house. One of the disadvantages of hotels is that many of them don't offer a full kitchen—which can save you money and extra weight gain when you're traveling. If you're traveling with a group, you may want to consider renting a house together and sharing the cost, or consider other ways of finding an unused timeshare. One helpful site is Tug1.com. Under classified ads, you can find a listing of available timeshares to rent or buy at a fraction of the cost.

Another great site that shouldn't be missed is SkyAuction.com. The website allows you to bid on travel packages as well as individual airline tickets, hotels and rental cars. You need to read the find print as to any extra charges including the $15 fee the website tags onto the cost, but you can find some incredible deals here—particularly if you're next ministry event is in Florida or a popular destination city. SkyAuction allows bidders to compete for unsold timeshare rentals, airline tickets, and cruises at sometimes ridiculously low prices.

The newest site that we've fallen in love with is Airbnb.com. You can rent anything on this site—a full apartment, a condo, a bedroom in someone's house, a couch, a tree house, an igloo. For wild, wacky, and wonderful, check it out.

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April 29, 2013 at 8:00 AM

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