Not all business trips are planned at the last minute. By planning ahead and choosing the right day of the week to travel, you'll cut your travel expenses and trip stresses. Here's how:

  • Seek the midweek soft spot. Trips that start and/or end midweek (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) are cheaper and easier. That's because the airlines' lowest off-peak fares are available on those days. And since you're traveling off-peak, the airport parking lot will be less crowded, airport lines will be shorter, and you might even end up with an empty seat next to you on the plane!
  • Avoid security delays. Backups at airport security checkpoints are worse when business and leisure travelers converge on airports simultaneously. That means big delays on Sunday evenings and Monday mornings, when business travelers are heading out for the week and leisure travelers are coming home from the weekend. Another bad day is Friday afternoon, when leisure travelers are taking off for the weekend and business travelers are returning home.
  • Take a day trip. Over the past decade, many airlines have been using smaller planes to build up flight frequencies between major business centers. This makes the option of a day trip that much easier. You can take an early morning flight to another city, meet with clients all day, then fly home that same night and sleep in your own bed. You won't have to pay for hotels or meals, and it won't disrupt your personal life too much, either.
  • Leave the weekend behind. While the dreaded Saturday night stay-over rule is waning, it's not dead yet. Where major airlines don't compete with less restrictive low-fare carriers, this rule still applies to travelers hoping to snag the cheapest fares. The good news is that low-fare carriers are slowing entering most major cities, and the Saturday night stay-over rule will continue to fade away.

, travel correspondent for CNN Headline News, is author ofThe Unofficial Business Travelers' Pocket Guide.