When Gas Prices Soar: Business Travel Alternatives

High Gas PricesHow much did you spend filling up your car recently? Are you one of the many who just paid over $50 for a tank of gas in the last few weeks? You’re not alone. With gas prices rising around the country, and some cities seeing over $4.00 a gallon, the cost of oil is certainly affecting not just the travel we do to work but the travel we do for work.

The average commute time for American workers in 2010 was 46 minutes round trip. The majority of Americans travel over 16 miles to work a day. That kind of mileage adds up. With that in mind, here are a few ideas on what you can do to offset some of your commuting costs:

 

  • With better weather coming around the bend, consider biking to work. Just imagine the endorphins and the extra fitness as a result.
  • You’ve heard it said time and again (so why not one more time?), get a metro pass and take public transportation to the office. Or carpool with others.
  • Work from home if you can. Minimize your need to go to the office by planning meetings on just one or two days, rather than an hour here and there throughout the week. Often times if you explain to your meeting attendees what you’re doing and why, they’ll find ways to help (and also find ways to minimize their drives into the office as well).
  • Find the cheapest gas in your city. Bookmark GasBuddy (just one recommendation) or download an iPhone app to check the least expensive places to fill up.

And while filling up a car tank is expensive, think of the costs to fill up an airplane. Tickets that were $200 in January have climbed to $260 less than two months later. And there’s further expectation that oil prices will continue to rise into the summer, making air travel even more expensive. So far Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines have increased their round-trip tickets by $10 to help offset fuel charges.

Despite the current fuel prices, your plans to head to your company’s headquarters are most likely set. Or you’ve arranged your dates around a user conference. In other words, your upcoming trip is booked. But if you’re making plans into the next few months with uncertain gas prices in the future, consider these technological alternatives to business travel:

 

  • Web conferencing allows you to participate in a meeting via your computer. With audio and video capabilities, you can watch presentations and participate in training sessions. You’ll need internet access and with some services, you’ll need to download the application. It’s the Cadillac of live meeting alternatives.
  • Videoconferencing is a lot like web conferencing with its audio and video features. But you’ll need a camera (many laptops now come with one built-in, or you can purchase one).  You’ll still need internet access and remember that while you can see your attendees, they can also see you (Jane Jetson mask anyone?).
  • Teleconferencing is a fancy way of “jumping on a call” with two or more people. You’ll need a phone that can add on callers, or has a “conference call” button. It’s a good alternative for less media-intensive meetings. It’s also a quick and less technological alternative to the above.

If these aren’t good solutions for your situation and you need to make your trip, you might as well sit back, relax, and leave the flying to your captain.

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