Here we will go over how to stick to a budget as a business traveler.
Corporate travel spending can quickly get out of hand if you’re not careful. Expenses like eating meals and traveling to and from meetings add up fast, and it’s common for employees to struggle with their budgeting.
Luckily, there are ways you can cut back on spending, get discounts, and be reimbursed by your employer to ensure that your wallet does not take a hit during business travel.
Let’s jump right in.
The first step in sticking to a budget is creating a budget. Many individuals go on a trip believing that as long as they know how much can be spent, they will be safe. This plan generally does not work because it can be hard to keep track of spending, and there is no precise dollar amount allocated to each activity and accommodation.
You can start creating your budget by following these steps:
- Set realistic goals
- Identify your expenses and allowable
- Determine what you need vs. what you want
- Allocate funds to each expense
For the best results, consider making a weekly budget in addition to your trip budget.
You never know when an emergency or miscellaneous expense will appear during your trip; therefore, adding extra funds to your budget is a good idea.
If a scenario arises where you need to spend money on something unplanned, you wouldn’t want to be unprepared, having to dip into funds meant for something else.
If you don’t use the miscellaneous funds, they will go right back into your pocket.
Traveling via air is generally the fastest transportation method, but it’s also the most expensive.
Using a personal vehicle or taking a Greyhound are great ways to save hundreds of dollars on each trip. You can also help multiple team members stay within their budget by carpooling and dividing the expenses amongst the group.
You can ensure you don’t overspend by finding deals whenever possible, and hotels are the easiest expense to find discounts for.
Individuals traveling for business can negotiate group booking prices with their hotel. Most hotels are happy to offer discounts for corporate travelers because it guarantees that their vacancies will be filled and creates a partnership that generates more business in the future.
When away on a trip, it can be easy to overdo it with luxurious meals and fun nights out.
To stay within your budget, consider the following:
- Preparing your own meals
- Dining at family restaurants or inexpensive chains
- Saving alcohol consumption as a celebration at the end of your trip
- Only dine at expensive restaurants with clients
Keep in mind that if you dine or drink with clients, it can be reimbursed as an expense by your employer but must be approved in advance.
Creating a budget isn’t enough; you must track it as well.
Every time you spend money while away, you should save receipts and write down each expense in your budget. Your budget will have an allotment for each category, such as hotel, transportation, and meals. As you spend, subtract the amount from the correct category to ensure you always know how much funds are remaining, and you can stay within budget.
Sometimes corporate travel spending is per diem, which means the company provides a fixed amount of funding for expenses. As long as you stay within per diem allowances, your trip will be covered by the employer.
Things generally covered by your employer may include:
- Laundry or dry cleaning
- Fees and tips
Souvenirs, room service, alcohol, and room service are generally not covered by your employer.
If you are responsible for reserving the lodging and transportation for yourself or your team, you should enroll in reward programs.
Most hotels and airlines have reward programs that give you points for every purchase. You will earn discounts, coupons, free merchandise, hotel rooms, and flights as you accumulate points.
You can also use a travel credit card to accumulate points or “miles.” These cards provide similar rewards in addition to cashback.
When we travel, you may feel obligated to bring souvenirs back for your loved ones. Although this is a kind gesture, souvenirs are typically overpriced and not worth the expense.
Instead of wasting forty dollars on a snow globe or themed coffee mug, try finding your own souvenirs.
You can find gifts for free in nature by searching the beach or local parks for rocks and minerals that are exclusive to the area. For example, Yogo sapphires are only found in Montana, and Petoskey stones are only found in Michigan. Both of these stones are typically easy to find but are rare to the rest of the world, so they hold a high monetary value.
Additionally, many businesses have free postcards and pins that can be used as gifts.
If you want to bring home memorabilia with a bit more value, shop at small businesses instead of souvenir shops near state/city borders to avoid hiked prices.