Author Topic: Ideas for making the most out of business travel?  (Read 1527 times)

InnTee

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Ideas for making the most out of business travel?
« on: March 05, 2017, 08:01:00 PM »
I do a fair amount of business travel for my job. I view it as a necessary evil until FI, and would appreciate ideas about how I can (ethically) use it to my benefit.

Here's what I've been doing:
- Put all US-dollar expenses on 1.5% cash back, no annual fee MasterCard. Earns me cash money, which is the best.
- Put all foreign expenses on AA MasterCard with no foreign transaction fee (am transitioning this to Chas Amazon Visa with no FTF and no annual fee). Earns me American Airlines miles, soon to be Amazon credits.
- Fly on AA or a partner airline whenever I can to maximize frequent flier miles.
- Use hotel loyalty programs when there is one (gets me a free hotel night or upgrade for family travel now and then).
- Use my airport's frequent parker program (lets me park for free at the airport for occasional personal travel).


A few parameters worth mentioning:

- I don't get a per diem, but am reimbursed for actual (reasonable) expenses. It's been years since anyone gave me a hard time about an expense report, as I'm pretty conservative about what I submit.
- About half my travel is domestic & half international.
- I rarely can choose hotel but often can choose airline.
- I often bring my own snacks (at my expense) because I'm doing one of those low-carb, high fat diets. Other than that, food & beverages are typically reimbursed.

So, any ideas on what else I could be doing? I'd appreciate any suggestions.

Trifele

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Re: Ideas for making the most out of business travel?
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2017, 04:47:55 AM »
Hey there
Sounds like you are hitting all the good opportunities already.  You are lucky they let you put expenses on your own card and keep the points.  I used to travel for work and had to use the company card, and the company kept the points.  So your set up is great. 
The only other thing I can think of is to look into CC hacking to rack up points faster.  Some of the sign up bonuses out there far outstrip the cash back card rewards.  It requires a bit of organization/management to rotate cards regularly, but as a mini-side hustle it can really pay off.   

JoJo

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Re: Ideas for making the most out of business travel?
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2017, 02:49:22 PM »
If you travel alot, consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve.  If you use it for restaurant, hotel, and transportation you get 3 points per $1 spent, and the points on their portal are worth 1.5x  (So $1 spent in these categories gives you 4.5 cents towards future travel).

You also get the Global Entry & TSA pre-check and entry into 1000+ airline lounges around the world. 


spartanswami

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Re: Ideas for making the most out of business travel?
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2017, 05:36:27 PM »
Perhaps you can purchase and indulge yourself - but instead of at a restaurant, purchase your ingredients and delicacies at a local grocery store. Buy nice chocolates, imported cheeses, nuts, preserved meats etc along with your other meals. Enjoy some and then carry the remaining home to gift and share with your family (and friends). You make full use of your expense account and still get to keep the diet of your choice.

GreenQueen

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Re: Ideas for making the most out of business travel?
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2017, 05:48:22 PM »
Perhaps you can purchase and indulge yourself - but instead of at a restaurant, purchase your ingredients and delicacies at a local grocery store. Buy nice chocolates, imported cheeses, nuts, preserved meats etc along with your other meals. Enjoy some and then carry the remaining home to gift and share with your family (and friends). You make full use of your expense account and still get to keep the diet of your choice.

I completely agree with this. I used to travel 2-3 weeks a month for work and have food allergies. Instead of eating out I would find a good grocery store and buy healthy food to eat in my hotel room or on the go, and expensed that instead. Non-perishables left over came home with me.

I also chose to work in areas where I knew people, if you have that flexibility.

SwordGuy

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Re: Ideas for making the most out of business travel?
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2017, 05:58:33 PM »
Had a 2 week business trip to Rotterdam in the Netherlands.   Figured out I could take a sleeper train to Paris on Friday night and back on Sunday night, giving me 2 free days in Paris.   And I saved the company $20 doing it. :)

Had to teach a 5 day and a 4 day class in Hawaii.   Suggested they do the 4 day first on M-T, catch up on their email on Friday, and then the 2nd class M-F the following week.  That got me a free extra day in Hawaii.

Plus, of course, always try to travel so you get all or most of a weekend in a location you want to spend time in.   That cuts your travel costs down to just a hotel night or two, and a meal or two.

Per Diem food and daily expenses are often the best deal, especially if you get lodging where you can cook your own food.   

katsiki

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Re: Ideas for making the most out of business travel?
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2017, 06:28:08 PM »
You could get a small increase by switching your US expenses to a 2% card like Citi DoubleCash or similar.

The suggestion to get a Chase Sapphire Reserve or travel hack might be better though.

Goldielocks

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Re: Ideas for making the most out of business travel?
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2017, 07:06:43 PM »
Perhaps you can purchase and indulge yourself - but instead of at a restaurant, purchase your ingredients and delicacies at a local grocery store. Buy nice chocolates, imported cheeses, nuts, preserved meats etc along with your other meals. Enjoy some and then carry the remaining home to gift and share with your family (and friends). You make full use of your expense account and still get to keep the diet of your choice.

I did this with a twist-- buy Starbucks via in multi packs on expense instead of a hot coffee.  Two for the trip, 6 for home use.

Almonds bought in a can were similar benefit. As long as company is not out money I think it is fair.

On my return, after landing, I may get a meal to go right after I land and take half back to my kids instead of tossing it.

The other thing I do now is go a bit earlier, day before instead of same day travel, and I sometimes have time to see a museum or local park.   When you work travel a lot, going a bit slower can make you more productive.

InnTee

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Re: Ideas for making the most out of business travel?
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2017, 08:08:17 PM »
Thanks all -- great info! Please keep the ideas coming if you have more!

Ocinfo

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Re: Ideas for making the most out of business travel?
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2017, 08:23:18 PM »
Writing this from a hotel room while on work travel (that happens to be on a beach). Get the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the points and overall benefits are as good as they get. I'm in a per diem system and I get to keep anything I don't spend so I don't have any tips to share. Take a look at using Alaska Airlines for your frequent flier miles. They partner with AA, Delta (ending soon), Emirates, and many others. It gives me more flexibility to fly different airlines, still get usable points, and in the case of AA, ability to book extra leg room seats for free and free checked bags.


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