Part 2: Another Six Ways Business Travel Dug Me Deeper into Debt
Welcome to Part 2 of ways business travel dug me deeper into debt. I’ve come up with 10 ways how I foolishly spent while on the road. Here’s a link to Part 1 which explains a little of my situation and four ways. Onto the next six ways…
#5. Forgot to Cancel (Ouch!)
Ugh! Have you had this happen? Thankfully I’ve only had this happen once. Being responsible for my own travel is usually pretty easy to manage but one week I was swamped and forgot I had made hotel reservations at a conference host hotel. I thought I had made reservations at another hotel and when I arrived, they didn’t have a reservation for me but had availability. A month later, a $350 charge for a hotel stay appeared on my American Express (AMEX) card. Problem was, I didn’t stay at the hotel.
After trying to dispute the charge, I realized it was for a reservation I made and didn’t cancel. Can I say OUCH! again?
When booking a hotel I read the cancellation policy thoroughly and have a preference to those hotels with 6 p.m. same day cancellations. I also PRINT (kickin’ it old school) the confirmation and email it to another account hoping this would remind me to cancel if need be.
#6. Airline Lost My Luggage
One of my first business trips was to Sweden. My flight connected in London and was delayed for about 8 hours due to a snowstorm. When I arrived in Sweden, my luggage was nowhere to be found. I had to set up my stand and attend the trade show the next day and while British Airways provided me with a comfort pack, it didn’t contain some essentials, specifically deodorant. The office gave me permission to purchase whatever I needed (and my luggage arrived about 1.5 days later) but when I submitted the expenses, the finance department kicked them back saying they weren’t a valid expense.
Not sure if there is a solid solution other than wear and carry the essentials you need. These days most airlines will reimburse for essentials but not up front. Travel insurance is always a back up for what the airlines won’t cover, but like the airlines, reimbursement isn’t immediate.
#7. Didn’t File Expense Reports in a Timely Manner
Suppose it’s laziness, but when I didn’t file my expense reports in a timely manner, I ended up paying interest charges on business expenses. Why didn’t I submit them in a timely manner? Overwhelmed with immediate work needing attention upon my return or back-to-back trips.
No matter what’s happening, I make submitting an expense report a priority upon my return. While on the road I keep my receipts in one place making it a bit easier to submit what’s necessary.
#8. Lost a [Stupid] Receipt
Before I figured out the organizational skills needed for expense reports, I would lose a receipt every now and then for something I paid cash for, which meant I didn’t receive reimbursement. Those little charges add up!
I do my best to keep my receipts concentrated to one area in an envelop in my purse. I never leave that envelop sitting alone in my hotel room – I’ve heard too many horror stories of housekeeping staff throwing them away. I also try to pay for items with a credit card so in case I do lose a receipt, there’s some record of the purchase for possible reimbursement.
#9. I’m a
Crazy Cat Woman
Having pets is an enjoyable experience yet they have a price when I travel. I have two cats and when I’m away for two, three or even four days, I know they’ll be okay because cats are pretty self-sufficient. For longer business trips, I have someone come in and replenish their food and water and scoop their litter box. In good consciousness, I’d never ask a friend to scoop the litter box without compensation – it’s just an icky job duty. Is paying a pet sitter a reimbursable expense? I haven’t worked anywhere where it is.
Hmm. Suppose a solution is finding a significant other willing to do this or a friend where I can reciprocate the responsibilities.
#10. Business Travel Hooked Me on Travel
Traveling for business literally opened my eyes to another world. The more I traveled, the more I needed more. I spend a great portion of my free time traveling. Thankfully I live in Florida which offers something different each day, however, it comes at a cost. The cost of fuel, food, accommodations and activities. I’m spending money rather than saving and paying down debt.
I’ve cut back on my travel and being smarter about what I spend my money on and saving what I can. I visit sites such as Groupon for discounts on dining and attractions and try to save on everyday necessities by couponing.
Final Thoughts About Business Travel
If your sole purpose in taking a job is because of the business travel aspect of it, reconsider. I’m the first to admit it is pretty awesome traveling for business and knowing someone else is picking up the tab (most of the time). But consider, the cost of business travel. It wreaks havoc on relationships and you almost always spend more money than intended. You truly need to be passionate about your job first in order to appreciate the travel end of it. It takes discipline and organizational skills to work from the road along with a decent line of credit.