We’ve talked about the methods we use for keeping track of our business travel expenses, but I wonder—how do our employers treat us while we’re on a business trip?
Like all business travelers, I make a lot of sacrifices traveling for work. That being said my company does a pretty good job at making it relatively painless for me when I travel for business. I get a reasonable daily allowance for food, I’m rarely asked for explanations when I submit my expenses (as long as they fall within policy), I can book trips last minute without too much hassle, I can stay pretty much wherever I want, I can choose the method of ground transportation that works best for me once I’ve arrived, I can purchase WiFi whenever I need it, I can use my own credit card to book everything (except airline tickets) so I rack up points, I can choose who I want to fly with, and if I want a glass of wine to wind down for the day they’ll reimburse alcohol as long as I stay within my daily food allowance. The only big complaint I have is my company won’t fly me Business Class when I travel internationally. I usually end up footing the upgrade bill on that when I travel to Manila, which isn’t cheap. Overall, though, I feel pretty fortunate to work for a company that treats me like a responsible adult and wants to make sure my trips are as comfortable as possible.
When I start to get irritated with constant travel I remind myself that it could be worse. For instance, when my husband traveled for business he had a very picky travel department. You couldn’t pick a carrier based on preference; you had to choose the carrier that offered the lowest priced ticket, even if the timing wasn’t ideal. If you chose a flight that wasn’t the lowest price you had to enter in justification which had to go through an approval process. The daily food allowance he received was barely half of what I get. He had to use a corporate card to make purchases, and could only buy food from places considered by the company to be a “food establishment”. So if he wanted to buy a bag of nuts from a newsstand at the airport the card would get declined. I understand that they want to avoid people buying nonfood items with their card, but with a strict policy like that, what’s the point of making you submit receipts (which he was also required to do)? When receipts were submitted his travel department made it as hard as possible for reimbursement (not to mention the software they used for reimbursement was awful).
A few years ago an article came out on CNN that basically called business travelers fraudsters who were out to steal money from their company. (Going back and reading that article makes me mad all over again!) Since then, my own company has gotten both more generous with certain allowable items and pickier about how items are categorized on expense reports. A more recent story said more and more companies are going to start making it harder for business travelers to spend money on business trips. I totally get that companies want save money and discourage unnecessary spending, but stories I hear about companies micromanaging business travel expenses really bothers me. I can speak from firsthand experience that providing business travelers with more freedom during their trips is a huge motivational tool—it lets me run my business much more smoothly. Just because something costs slightly more doesn’t mean make it bad business sense. When a business traveler has to spend their trip worrying about whether or not their spending decision will hurt the company’s bottom line it distracts from the purpose of the trip, which is to conduct business.
Readers, do you feel your company’s travel policies are reasonable? Do your expenses get micromanaged?
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