Author Topic: 50% travel (Mustachian business travel tips needed)  (Read 1648 times)

Cali

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50% travel (Mustachian business travel tips needed)
« on: May 13, 2018, 09:55:03 AM »
I just applied for a job that will require 50% travel. I won’t know if I got it for two more weeks but I’m trying to prepare myself as much as possible. I’ve traveled for business before but but as a self-employed consultant this will be 100% within corporate guidelines as an employee.

Any mustachians have tips for surviving high volume business travel? Anything I can/should negotiate for upfront?

sokoloff

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Re: 50% travel (Mustachian business travel tips needed)
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2018, 10:22:36 AM »
I fly Premium Economy whenever that is available and definitely on any legs over oceans or over 5 hours.
I fly Business or First whenever I'm flying overnight and heading directly into a morning meeting that matters.

Flying enough on one carrier (most of my travel is on Delta [or Air France/KLM]) to get Diamond (or equivalent) and that means most of your domestic trips will be upgraded to First Class anyway. Flying in the premium cabins (or getting to a middle frequent flier status) also gets you lounge access, which makes the airport experience suck a fair bit less.

If I stay over on a Saturday night in order to save dramatically on airfare, the company is picking up the hotels and meals for that extra time. I don't feel obligated to stay the Sat night to save the company money, but sometimes it's a win-win for me and the company.

I feel like keeping a passport is properly at my expense, but all visas and Global Entry/Nexus/TSA Precheck are on the company dime.

red_pill

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Re: 50% travel (Mustachian business travel tips needed)
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2018, 10:27:06 AM »
My company pays a certain amount for meals with no receipts needed, so if I spend less it is tax free bonus! For dinner I will often go to a grocery store and most have deli counters that have quarter chickens as well as sides of veggies available (or will grab a microwave bag of veggies if my room has a microwave).  I can have a good, healthy dinner for under $10 and pocket the ďprofitĒ from what the company pays.  Plus I HATE eating multiple meals at restaurants.  It gets so gross.  And itís faster than a sit down restaurant.

Cali

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Re: 50% travel (Mustachian business travel tips needed)
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2018, 11:38:09 AM »
Thankfully I have global entry/pre already so I don’t have to wait for an application on those. How do air miles usually work in this scenario? I’ll have a corporate credit card and a corporate trave agent but I’m hoping to at least get miles out of this.

As for eating out, it’s my #1 concern. Gaining weight and losing my fitness routine is not an option so I’m going to have to figure that part out. At 50%, travel is no longer an anomaly it’s just a way of life so I need to figure out reasonable meals to eat out calorically and places to work out physically.

sokoloff

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Re: 50% travel (Mustachian business travel tips needed)
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2018, 11:49:51 AM »
How do air miles usually work in this scenario?
Most companies let the employees keep the miles. (Ours does.)

skibum

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Re: 50% travel (Mustachian business travel tips needed)
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2018, 12:20:26 PM »
My company pays a certain amount for meals with no receipts needed, so if I spend less it is tax free bonus! For dinner I will often go to a grocery store and most have deli counters that have quarter chickens as well as sides of veggies available (or will grab a microwave bag of veggies if my room has a microwave).  I can have a good, healthy dinner for under $10 and pocket the ďprofitĒ from what the company pays.  Plus I HATE eating multiple meals at restaurants.  It gets so gross.  And itís faster than a sit down restaurant.

This. Get a flat per-diem if possible, and always, always, always get a hotel room with a fridge. Even if it doesn't have a microwave, with a kettle and an iron you can do quite a bit. (Yes, an iron. With some tin foil this can be your friend.) When I traveled almost 50% with a previous job I would find the nearest grocery/deli/bodega, and stock up on things like yogurt for breakfast.

Other tips: Get one of those wide mouth thermoses. With this you can 1) buy a half carton of eggs, and pour just-off-boiling water over them in the thermos, and get hard boiled eggs. 2) Make oatmeal. 3) Get a smaller container that fits inside, pour hot water around it, and heat up just about anything.
Get some of those collapsible camping bowls, and a portable can opener. Now you can make tuna, egg-salad etc.

If you want to bring your own food, you can, but make sure you research the quarantine rules of where you are going. I've had to throw away things like grapes entering California, and nuts entering the US as well. It often isn't worth it.
If food is allowed, flour tortillas and peanut butter travel really well. Make your own trail mix in advance as well. Read backpacking sites for food suggestions that will travel light and heat up just with boiling water.

Non-food related travel frugality, especially if you are going to be on the road for a while:
Get a travel clothesline, the latex braided kind. My company wouldn't pay for laundry, so having the ability to wash things cut down costs substantially. Get a universal plug for sinks - not every hotel sink can be stopped. Bring a bottle of laundry detergent, and wash away. Ask for extra towels, and roll wet things in the towels and kneel or stand on them before hanging up. Cuts down dry time substantially.
Always carry-on everything, even if your company will pay the extra for checking a bag. If you have to buy sundries and clothes when (not if) your bag is lost, you will always spend more than the airline will give you. Not worth it.

My max was three months on the road without a break, living out of a single carry-on. That was too much, but I made a lot of money on my per-diem that trip.

Get some of those packing cubes and prepare kits, like a food-prep kit, laundry kit etc. Restock as you unpack. That way, when you travel, you can just toss the kits into your carry-on.

gaja

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Re: 50% travel (Mustachian business travel tips needed)
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2018, 12:31:16 PM »
Most important to negotiate, is what counts as working hours, and how you will be compensated for the extra time. Will you get extra time off to compensate for the travel time and long hours, or will you have to spend just as many hours in the office as if you didn't spend the weekend travelling back from an assignment?

My normal work week is 37.5 hours. All hours outside that are counted towards PTO. The hours that count are; extra time in the office, time working from home, time working in other places (hotel room, external meetings, etc), and time spent travelling (on airplane/in airports, in car, etc). Time relaxing in hotel room is not counted as work. Usually, if I travel 3-4 days in a week, I will get 1-2 days of PTO. For some reason, travel time in other countries only counts 50 %. To compensate for that, we get $50/day.

Logging travel expenses is a drag. Per diems without receipts are a lot easier to deal with. And I rarely spend everything on food.

FIRE 20/20

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Re: 50% travel (Mustachian business travel tips needed)
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2018, 01:04:12 PM »
Look into tax implications of working in different states.  I believe that working in California for more than 30 days (????) means you need to pay California taxes, and many other states have 60 day thresholds.  I don't have a good resource for this, but quite a few people in my company have been hit with this unexpectedly over he past few years. 

I agree on getting clarity on what counts as chargeable time.  It isn't based on common sense, particularly if your company does work for the government.  Make sure you follow these rules; they aren't always just company rules but often have legal implications.

If you are interested in extending your stay for personal vacation time, I would ask about rules regarding combining personal travel and work travel.  My company used to be great with this.  As long as you paid any difference you could extend trips as long as you wanted.  Now it's almost impossible to do so. 

I agree with sokoloff on trying to fly with one carrier as much as possible.  Having status makes travel much, much easier.

One little thing; I often fly into and out of small airports, so I am often on smaller regional jets.  The planes I fly on very often do not have space in the overhead for a traditional roll-aboard suitcase, so they're gate checked.  I've seen a lot of co-workers miss connecting flights waiting for gate checked bags.  If you'll be on smaller regional jets if you can pack a small, soft duffel bag, you will be able to squeeze it into those small overhead bins and race from gate to gate.  My laptop, toiletries, and noise canceling headphones go in my backpack under the seat in front of me and my clothes and shoes get tossed in the overhead in the duffel.  Having everything with you makes it much easier to hop on an earlier flight and reduces the chance that you'll end up at your destination without any fresh clothes to wear. 

I consider noise canceling headphones to be a critical part of travel.  I have Bohm B76 bluetooth headphones.  They're usually about $110, but I've seen them as low as $70 for a refurbished set.  They're not as good as the high-end sets, but I think that for travel they're 80% as good for 30% of the price. 


red_pill

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Re: 50% travel (Mustachian business travel tips needed)
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2018, 01:28:53 PM »
Thankfully I have global entry/pre already so I donít have to wait for an application on those. How do air miles usually work in this scenario? Iíll have a corporate credit card and a corporate trave agent but Iím hoping to at least get miles out of this.

As for eating out, itís my #1 concern. Gaining weight and losing my fitness routine is not an option so Iím going to have to figure that part out. At 50%, travel is no longer an anomaly itís just a way of life so I need to figure out reasonable meals to eat out calorically and places to work out physically.

For workouts - my buddy travels 200+ days a year and swears by Anytime Fitness. Low rates and theyíre pretty much everywhere.  If youíll just be going to the hotel ďgymĒ then Iíd recommend grabbing some programming from Mountain Tactical Institute - they have a bunch of body weight programs. Iíve used their programs before and they are cheap and effective. Iíve also heard of guys getting a lot done with rubber bands they bring with them. 

Noise cancelling headphones +1.  They are a game changer. My wife bought them for me for a present and I got mad because they are so expensive. I changed my tune the first time I used them. Bliss.

I think illness is one of the biggest threats when travelling a lot. My mom has this down to a science - she brings Lysol wipes with her and wipes the hotel room down especially light switches and puts the tv remote control in a baggie that she brings.  And uses a ton of hand sanitizer.  I am not that diligent and always end up getting sick when I travel.  Gotta take a page from her playbook on that next time.

gaja

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Re: 50% travel (Mustachian business travel tips needed)
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2018, 01:32:43 PM »
Agree on the soft bag/duffelbag. Not only for smaller planes, but also for planes where there are a lot of business travellers. The overhead compartments in the front end of the plane tend to fill up. A lot of people will use the first empty place they find, instead of carrying it to their seat and storing ut above their own head. If you are a bit late boarding, you might have to store your luggage further back in the plane, even if your seat is in the front. It is a hassle to try to get hold of it again, usually you have to wait until all other passengers have left until you are able to go to the back and collect your luggage.

Sand101

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Re: 50% travel (Mustachian business travel tips needed)
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2018, 04:09:59 PM »
and time spent travelling (on airplane/in airports, in car, etc). Time relaxing in hotel room is not counted as work. Usually, if I travel 3-4 days in a week, I will get 1-2 days of PTO. For some reason, travel time in other countries only counts 50 %. To compensate for that, we get $50/day.

My company considers time on planes to be time off unless we're actually doing billable work.  Because isn't travelling to Cleveland reward enough?  Anyway...

Completely agree on soft luggage - I can squeeze my hanging bag in a lot of places others can't and never have to give it up to gate tag.

Tripit (app) is my best friend.  Best program on my phone - makes it amazingly easy to keep track of travel.

Pick a hotel chain and an airline, etc. and sign up.  These programs will add up after a while.

TSA pre is worth its weight in gold.  Hertz Gold (or the same at other rental companies) is also quite nice.   All of these little perks that get you a smoother travel experience add up pretty quick.

If you can start  going through travel cards - traveling enough you can rack up signup bonuses worth thousands.

ETA:  A good battery bank, enough to charge a phone a few times, is absolutely mandatory.  You'll thank yourself when you desperately need a charge and there are no outlets anywhere near your gate.  Happens all the time.

I also carry a small wall USB charger, a small car one, wires, etc.  Enough to make sure the phone can get charged anytime. 
« Last Edit: May 13, 2018, 06:48:03 PM by Sand101 »

mjb

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Re: 50% travel (Mustachian business travel tips needed)
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2018, 04:18:01 PM »
Read and digest everything on onebag.com -- the tips there changed my life.

Sign up for every airline, car rental, and hotel program you run across. Consolidate all of your travel to one airline + hotel chain if you can. Loyalty pays.

And drink a lot of water.

boarder42

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Re: 50% travel (Mustachian business travel tips needed)
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2018, 05:51:23 PM »
You keep all your air miles and hotel points. Supreme Court decision on this years ago.  Pick one hotel chain and one airline and stick with it. If they let you use your own card get one for the hotel chain you use and one for the airline. I'd select the airline based on who easily flies out of your city. Southwest has the overall best system for points for personal use.

jlcnuke

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Re: 50% travel (Mustachian business travel tips needed)
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2018, 10:54:12 AM »
Thankfully I have global entry/pre already so I donít have to wait for an application on those. How do air miles usually work in this scenario? Iíll have a corporate credit card and a corporate trave agent but Iím hoping to at least get miles out of this.

As for eating out, itís my #1 concern. Gaining weight and losing my fitness routine is not an option so Iím going to have to figure that part out. At 50%, travel is no longer an anomaly itís just a way of life so I need to figure out reasonable meals to eat out calorically and places to work out physically.

You'll keep all the miles. As for the cards, see if you can use your own and get reimbursed, you can accumulate rewards much faster that way using the brand's cards (I stay at IHG because they're found everywhere I routinely go and use Delta since I'm outside Atlanta, as a result of using their cards I rack up more points for the same cost).

No need to be eating out all the time, but there are healthier ways to do so if you want. I always have at least a mini-fridge so I can either take food or buy some on location and make my own healthy meals at the hotel. If driving and staying somewhere for long, a portable grill is nice to have FYI.

I can't recall the last time I stayed in a hotel that didn't have an exercise room either, so getting workouts in isn't generally a problem (only miss them if I'm too tired from working too many hours pretty much).

The "best" way to do things though really depends on where you're traveling and how long you're going to be there. Many people who work at one location for weeks or longer find that getting per-diem is vastly better than getting reimbursed as they'll either buy a camper with the per-diem then bank the money in the future or stay in cheap apartments etc and bank the difference between costs and their per-diem (typically $3-4k/month in per-diem, so they'll pay $400 for a camp spot for their camper and cover their food while banking the other $2k+ each month). Not really an option if you're only in a given location for a short time however.

As mentioned though, loyalty pays so figure out where you'll be going and plan to stick to 1 hotel and 1 airline as consistently as you can.

meghan88

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Re: 50% travel (Mustachian business travel tips needed)
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2018, 11:16:08 AM »
There's some great advice in this thread.  I'd echo the recommendation for onebag.com for tips, though the products they recommend are pricey IMO.  DH just bought himself a Hynes Eagle 40L, which is cheaper than anything available on onebag, but still well-made.

You should do fine in the hotel gyms.  They are usually empty.  Or, head out for a run if you can.

Wash your stuff in the hotel sink; I just use the bar soap that's provided.  Wring and hang to dry.  Don't do any washing on the last day.

Plus, what everyone else said about sticking with the same airline/hotel, for the points.

Lucky you - make the most of the travel while you can.  Hopefully it will take you to some interesting places outside of North America.  So far, I've been to Norway, Morocco, India, Brazil, Switzerland, England, The Netherlands, France, Belgium and Bulgaria on business.  Loved them all!!

Catbert

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Re: 50% travel (Mustachian business travel tips needed)
« Reply #15 on: May 14, 2018, 11:17:59 AM »
The only thing I can add is to take the time to learn all the ins-and-outs of your company's travel program.  What can/can't be reimbursed and when...flat per diem or reimbursement of actual expenses...how much choice to you have on flights and hotels...when can you use your own credit card...etc.

I'm a red panda

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Re: 50% travel (Mustachian business travel tips needed)
« Reply #16 on: May 14, 2018, 11:46:29 AM »
Look into tax implications of working in different states.  I believe that working in California for more than 30 days (????) means you need to pay California taxes, and many other states have 60 day thresholds.  I don't have a good resource for this, but quite a few people in my company have been hit with this unexpectedly over he past few years. 


Some states are 1 day...  New York is, and I think Illinois too.  Check your email on a connecting flight through O'Hare? Since you conducted business, in theory, you are supposed to file taxes.


My company only pays for economy flights. We get reimbursed per meal with a daily maximum, and have to file receipts. We have a maximum allowable amount for hotels, and can apply for a waiver if it isn't possible to stick to that (like if we go to San Francisco)
We used to be able to use our own credit card and get reimbursed (yay more points!) now we have to use the issued card.   
We have to use a rental car if traveling more than 150 miles, as the personal car reimbursement costs more.
We also can stay over a weekend if the hotel cost is less than the airfare difference.

I wish we had a per diem. My husband used to make money on business travel.

Fuzz

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Re: 50% travel (Mustachian business travel tips needed)
« Reply #17 on: May 14, 2018, 02:18:51 PM »
The chase sapphire card gets you a free priority pass, which gets you access to airport lounges. Worth it for me.