Most of us are used to spending like royalty when traveling on the company’s expense. However, times have changed and our expense budgets have dwindled so much that many times we find that we have exceeded our daily budget. It is usually shocking to come home and see that we have to pay for some of the expenses out of our pocket!
How do we keep tabs on what we spend and how much money is leftover? Proper planning is the key. Find out all the relevant information before we go on the trip to avoid the aftershocks!
As soon as you join a company, it is a good idea to find out the following:
- Do you get a company credit card? Are there any maximum limits on that card? Who pays for the card? Do you have to pay and then expense it or does the bill go directly to the company?
- Do you have an employee who is in charge of making travel plans for everyone?
- Any recommendations by the company on what type or air tickets to get? Any tips on airlines, refundable tickets or airports? Are employees allowed to travel business class?
- What are the rules on accommodations? Any specific hotel chains, international any restrictions? Are discounts available at any hotels for employees of this company?
- What about conveyance at the destination? Any recommended maximum for daily limits on taxi fees, buses, etc? Does the company offer insurance on auto rentals?
- Daily limit on meals? What is the budget for the specific country you are traveling to?
- What about entertaining customers? (This one is a biggie, may employees go all out on this excuse!)
- What if the luggage gets lost? Any allowance to buy clothes, shoes, etc?
- Extra expenses such as laundry, emergency items such as toothpaste, eyeglasses, photocopies, internet charges, shoe shines, snacks, airplane movies and drinks, etc.
As an employee, if you are assigned a budget for travel and it is given to you ahead of time in cash, it would be to your advantage to search around for the cheapest of airfare, hotel and accommodation so that you get to keep the rest of the money for yourself.
On the other hand, if your budget is only on paper, and you will need to spend your own money if you go overboard, then you’d better find out ways to reduce the expenses.
- Get cheap airline tickets. They will not be refundable, but hey, that’s not your problem.
- Go economy instead of business class. This will make a big difference in price of the tickets. At pre-boarding time, register for an upgrade. You may be able to travel in business class for a little more than the price of economy class. Or use your own miles to get a decent upgrade if you really miss the comfort and ease of traveling in style.
- Get the most reasonable accommodation. Verify that it is reasonably close to the place or work. When I went to Luxembourg on business, I chose a hotel from where we could walk to the PTT, where we worked. Luckily, it was close to the railway station where we were able to get a Euro-pass on a Sunday to visit Belgium and the neighboring countries!
- Book rooms in hotels which will give you free wireless internet connections. This way you can do most of your work for free. The charges for these connections in some hotels can add up to quite an inheritance!
- Use buses or trains rather than taxis which usually are more expensive. If you have to rent a vehicle, try to use frequent flyer miles. Also see if your company or your credit card will cover the insurance charge. Rent the cheapest car available with manual transmission. Also, carry a map with you. Fuel charges are very high in some places in Europe (to minimize the traffic) and you will need to know exactly where you are driving to. Driving around in circles will cost ya! J
- Arrange flights from alternate airports if that will save you money. It may be a trade-off between time and money, but you have to make the call.
- Book air flights in the middle of the week. Mondays and Fridays are the most expensive days to fly. Currently, Saturdays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the cheapest days to fly.
- Eating a buffet breakfast is the best option. If you eat very well (and the jetlag usually makes you very hungry!) around 9:00 in the morning, you can skip lunch and then later eat a good dinner at a classy restaurant. This way, you can keep to your budget and still eat pretty well. If you really feel hungry at lunch time, try a local deli or snack. Also, try the local specialties instead or ordering ham and eggs or whatever you are accustomed to when you stay home. At restaurants, try a takeout order to avoid extra for the service and tips.
- Take your laptop with you and use the free internet instead of renting time at internet cafes.
- Walk a lot. It is good for you and also helps save money. If you have a few days to see the country, go to the visitor’s bureau and ask for discounts on bus tours and restaurants. Look at the hotel bulletin board to see if there are other ways to save money while you are there. Join the hotel frequent traveler club if you plan to return to this town in the future.
- Do not use the pay per movies or mini-bar in the hotel. Always watch a DVD on your computer, pack a DVD with you or listen to music on your computer or iPod.
If you own a company, make sure that the employees understand that every penny saved goes back into the company. By conserving resources, you can keep your job longer and enjoy its benefits for a long time.
Sophia D’Souza is a Content Marketer, Blogger and Story Teller at Exit Timeshare Now. She enjoys connecting with people, keeping herself updated with the latest in the field of business, technology, travel & fashion and spending quality time with her family.