Author Topic: Traveling for work M-F, need tips  (Read 4652 times)

mrbrightside695

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Traveling for work M-F, need tips
« on: May 21, 2014, 06:52:23 AM »
Hi everyone!

I normally just read the forums, but I have an new work situation that was just sprung on me this week, and I could use some suggestions from this community on how to manage the change while trying to keep (or even improve!) a mustachian lifestyle.

I'm currently working as a process engineer in the semiconductor industry; my job is tied to the fab where I work, so I have not had to travel for work in my 2 years at my company. However, as of next week, I (and ~200 others) will be on assignment at a partner company about 2 hours north of where I live, to basically act as full time consultants to that company for the next 10 months. I will be staying in a hotel Monday through Friday, doing all of the travel by car. I have a per diem of $55 per day, but either 20% or 25% is deducted if the hotel offers breakfast (there may be an option to decline this when filing the expense report if it is not or cannot be used, but I am not sure).

In addition to any general tips on frequent travel, I also have 3 specific questions:

1. I can either take mileage reimbursement (55 cents/mile) or get a rental car (month to month is available). I have a 2009 Subaru Forester with ~50,000 miles on it. Which would be better? (I assume the rental, but not 100% sure).
   1a. If I had a month to month rental, is it unethical to use the car on weekends while at my home location?
2. My hotel options will have a microwave and a fridge - any meal tips for during the week? I'd rather not eat out every day, and I get to keep the per diem whether or not I spend it all.

Thanks!

enigmaT120

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Re: Traveling for work M-F, need tips
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2014, 11:59:24 AM »
No room with a stove top option, as well as a microwave?  I like to eat more from grocery stores than resturants, that's for sure.  Eat lots of fresh produce and sandwiches? 

I used to make lots of money driving my old Honda CRX getting about .55/mile, but your Suburu doesn't get nearly as good of mpg.  You'll be paying insurance on it anyway, so just figure out how much it costs to drive it. 


greenmimama

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Re: Traveling for work M-F, need tips
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2014, 12:09:03 PM »
Lots of pre planning food on the weekends.

Hard boiled eggs
Pre grilled chicken for salads or pasta

It really depends on what kind of accommodations you have, you could take a slow cooker and plug that in, have a nice dinner waiting on you when you come home and eat leftovers for lunch.

MsSindy

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Re: Traveling for work M-F, need tips
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2014, 01:26:17 PM »
When my husband traveled, I packed every item of food he needed; because I'm an awesome wife...and he doesn't like to eat out!  Seriously, go shopping and get into a food routine.  For my hubby, he typically ate cereal and milk for breakfast, yogurts/granola/banana for a mid-morning snack and sandwiches and stuff for lunch - everything was packed to go for him - even the sandwiches were made up in advance.  He had only a small fridge and microwave so space was limited.  He brought two freezer packs with him and kept one in the small freezer and one in an ice chest he brought - then just swapped them out everyday.

Also, if you have some extra money, invest in a FoodSaver vacuum packer - make up lots of tasty food and vacuum pack them.  They store flat.  I just loaded him up with frozen homemade dinners and he took them out as needed and dumped them into a bowl and into the microwave.  Also, made up a couple of salads for the beginning of the week so he had fresh veggies.  He was working insane hours, so wanted no fuss meals, so everything was one-pot, minimal prep and clean-up.  Worked excellent, and we made a couple of bucks on the per diem, as well as preserving his health and waistline!

curler

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Re: Traveling for work M-F, need tips
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2014, 01:36:20 PM »
On the meal advice, see http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/hotel-room-cooking/ for a recent discussion.

mrbrightside695

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Re: Traveling for work M-F, need tips
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2014, 01:36:49 PM »
No room with a stove top option, as well as a microwave?

Nothing that I can see that's on my list of preferred hotels, unfortunately; I haven't checked further out from work, though I'd rather not triple (or worse) my commute from the hotel to work if I can avoid it. It might be that extended stay locations aren't allowed, since the travel is just M-F, each week (and not multiple weeks at a time).

frugaliknowit

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Re: Traveling for work M-F, need tips
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2014, 01:49:18 PM »
Though it is hard to say with mathematical certainty which is best, I would take the rental and use it on the weekends.  Who cares if it is ethical; your company's contract with the rental co. is monthly so why not.  Even if the $.55 per mile is a tad profitable, the rental is seamless and has a guaranteed outcome.

Since I genuinely enjoy peanut butter, I would be having it on Wausau bread (no storage issues) with jelly at least every other day.  I would look into buying a portable stovetop (two burner) if the hotel would allow it or try to get a "kitchenette", even if you have to pay for it.  The store bought frozen dinners and prepared crap gets old fast, is loaded with sodium and God knows what and will put weight on you versus home cooked.  You don't want to eat like a long haul truck driver (no offense truck drivers!) do you?

chopper41

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Re: Traveling for work M-F, need tips
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2014, 01:57:36 PM »
Will you need to pay and then get reimbursed for your expenses?  If so, I would sign up for the hotel and rental car loyalty programs.  Also, find the best credit card (cash-back, hotel credit card), for your preference.  I was a travelling consultant for years and racked up so many frequent flier/hotel miles, that I'm still using them for free rooms, plane tickets, trips, etc.

mrbrightside695

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Re: Traveling for work M-F, need tips
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2014, 02:42:37 PM »
Will you need to pay and then get reimbursed for your expenses?  If so, I would sign up for the hotel and rental car loyalty programs.  Also, find the best credit card (cash-back, hotel credit card), for your preference.  I was a travelling consultant for years and racked up so many frequent flier/hotel miles, that I'm still using them for free rooms, plane tickets, trips, etc.

I can add my loyalty numbers to the hotel and car reservations at least, but I have to use my corporate card for the booking, so no points there unfortunately.

Dee18

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Re: Traveling for work M-F, need tips
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2014, 03:17:05 PM »
No need for a stovetop to cook many things.  Just have a couple bowls that can go in the microwave. ( I use conning ware.) use one for the base and one for the lid and you can easily cook any fresh vegetable in a couple minutes.  The trick is: do not add water. In my microwave a cut up head of broccoli takes exactly 2 minutes.  With a large glass bowl you can cook pasta. Couscous is quickest.  For a sweet potato, pierce it a  few times, wrap it in a wet paper towel and cook until done.  Just buy a rotisserie chicken and veggies and have a great dinner, with plenty of leftovers

Joggernot

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Re: Traveling for work M-F, need tips
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2014, 03:35:23 PM »
In addition to any general tips on frequent travel, I also have 3 specific questions:

1. I can either take mileage reimbursement (55 cents/mile) or get a rental car (month to month is available). I have a 2009 Subaru Forester with ~50,000 miles on it. Which would be better? (I assume the rental, but not 100% sure).
   1a. If I had a month to month rental, is it unethical to use the car on weekends while at my home location?
2. My hotel options will have a microwave and a fridge - any meal tips for during the week? I'd rather not eat out every day, and I get to keep the per diem whether or not I spend it all.

Thanks!
I, too, had to deduct from per diem if the motel had any kind of breakfast.  See the other thread on hotel room cooking.  Don't use a slow cooker because the hotel doesn't allow cooking in the room.  With the microwave or rice cooker you only cook for a short time and they tend to overlook it.  Call the hotel/motel and find out if they have a microwave/refrig in the room.  If not, ask you company to pay the $5 (normally) for them to put one in the room.  My company agreed to do this.

When you rent a car, make sure you get unlimited miles.  This is still a cheap cost of rental, and you can use it on weekends because you're paying for the gas.  I, personally, liked to get the money reimbursed because I had an older, good, relatively high mpg car and made more than it cost to operate/own.

I don't see how you could lose, if you follow the hotel cooking thread and the ideas here.

DollarBill

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Re: Traveling for work M-F, need tips
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2014, 09:30:33 PM »

mm1970

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Re: Traveling for work M-F, need tips
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2014, 10:14:23 PM »
Hi everyone!

I normally just read the forums, but I have an new work situation that was just sprung on me this week, and I could use some suggestions from this community on how to manage the change while trying to keep (or even improve!) a mustachian lifestyle.

I'm currently working as a process engineer in the semiconductor industry; my job is tied to the fab where I work, so I have not had to travel for work in my 2 years at my company. However, as of next week, I (and ~200 others) will be on assignment at a partner company about 2 hours north of where I live, to basically act as full time consultants to that company for the next 10 months. I will be staying in a hotel Monday through Friday, doing all of the travel by car. I have a per diem of $55 per day, but either 20% or 25% is deducted if the hotel offers breakfast (there may be an option to decline this when filing the expense report if it is not or cannot be used, but I am not sure).

In addition to any general tips on frequent travel, I also have 3 specific questions:

1. I can either take mileage reimbursement (55 cents/mile) or get a rental car (month to month is available). I have a 2009 Subaru Forester with ~50,000 miles on it. Which would be better? (I assume the rental, but not 100% sure).
   1a. If I had a month to month rental, is it unethical to use the car on weekends while at my home location?
2. My hotel options will have a microwave and a fridge - any meal tips for during the week? I'd rather not eat out every day, and I get to keep the per diem whether or not I spend it all.

Thanks!
Ha!  I'm a process engineer in semiconductors too.  But I don't travel.

My husband travels and stays at hotels and gets per diem.  Here are some of his tips:
1. Oatmeal
2. Granola bars
3. Fruit
4. Subway (a couple of the places he goes, this is the only "restaurant" nearby)
5. Hot pockets (I mean, yuck.  But he's cheap, and he's often working until really late at night with no dinner break, and then the only thing open is the grocery store).

When we go on vacation, we sometimes stay where we have a fridge and micro.  I get fresh fruits, steam-in-bag veggies, "just add hot water" noodle bowls, veggies and hummus, sandwich makings.  But you know, I can't live on hot pockets and granola bars.  He can.  I also take an electric kettle to boil water (for the noodle bowls).

I'd use the rental car, personally.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2014, 10:17:23 PM by mm1970 »

TomTX

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Re: Traveling for work M-F, need tips
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2014, 05:33:23 AM »
I have successfully argued that the hotel breakfast unsuitable and gotten breakfast paid. Zero protein options. It was almost 100% carbs - with the exception of milk. Not even some boiled eggs.

Two caveats - I am on meal reimbursement, not per diem (ugh) - and only my immediate manager had to approve, not somewhere else.

ABSOLUTELY sign up for all hotel/car/whatever loyalty programs today. They often send out some kind of promotion (extra points, free night for X night stays this month, whatever) - but you generally have to sign up in advance. Once you rack up some points, you start getting more perks (particularly at some Hiltons)

ALSO - see if any of the hotel options have an evening "Manager Reception" - often snacks or a light meal, plus beer/wine. Homewood, Staybridge, Embassy Suites, etc.

Use Tripadvisor to check out the hotels in advance. Read comments, not just the top-line ratings. There is effectively something of a "grading curve" based on the tier of the hotel as well. Travelers will typically hold Embassy Suites to a higher standard than a Motel 6. If they are rated the same, the Embassy is likely to be noticeably nicer.

Be friendly and get to know the hotel staff! They can give you a LOT of free upgrades (better room, free services) and can give you a heads-up when the cookies show up. ;)