How to optimize your travel cost

In most cases, not all costs of business trips are covered by your organisation. This article describes some tricks how to reduce uncovered spending and how to improve work-life-balance during the trip.

The first step is to evaluate under which conditions the overall costs for the trip can be reduced without losing comfort. Travelling from and to project meetings often happens in prime times when many other business trips are made. Think different and check whether tickets are cheaper when travelling at the weekend or other slots with less attractiveness.

In many cases the reduced ticket price will cover additional costs of another night in a hotel and travelling can be arranged more relaxing. Check two or three combinations and your boss might approve sponsored short holidays in one of your favourite destinations.

Secondly, check beforehand which cost categories will be covered by your organization. Some organisations for example cover costs for taxis only under certain circumstances, such as unavailability of other public transport options. Check whether you can share a ride with project partners who do not face the same problem. They often take you with them as it does not produce any additional cost for them and you have a relaxing ride with the opportunity for doing some business with them in a relaxed setting.

Thirdly, does your organization cover real cost or do they reimburse only a lump sum? Many organisations do not reimburse real cost but  pay lump sums for meals. This practise does normally not cover your real cost in business settings. The amount of the lump sum is mostly linked to the country you are travelling to and whether your staying for less then 24 hours or more. Knowing about the problem can be used for extra agreements with your local host or your hotel. Check with them whether they can issue a bill for all used services without putting a price tag at each single service. By doing so, you can enjoy your breakfast and lunch with your project partners in a relaxed setting without any additional costs that have to be covered by you.

Fourthly, some working dinners are of such a strategic importance that your boss will approve the cost, regardless what the normal cost model of your organization is. If you see an added value in attending the meeting, send an email to your boss for getting the approval.

Experts in the field recommend the following: Try to avoid any doubt that your organization will have to pay for your personal pleasure. Otherwise, you might have to explain why you had a single beer with your project partners on the hotel bill or you will be involved in discussions whether a sandwich during a flight counts as a full meal.

When being in doubt which costs will be covered by your organisation, check with the persons in charge in your organisation before starting the planning.

Think different and have in mind that you are travelling for your organisation and not for fun – at least primarily.

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