Business Travel is Worth the Hassle

Business Travel is Worth the Hassle

I’m a consultant. My job is to go to a client, fix a problem, and leave. Sometimes the problem is easy and we’re gone after a few weeks. Sometimes we stay for months or even years. Anyway, usually there is a fair amount of business travel involved.

Most clients are in The Netherlands. But not all of them. Currently I’m staffed on an international project in Europe at a small multinational client (<5,000 employees).

Business Travel

I’m traveling to this client for a couple weeks every week during the project startup phase. Then when we’re in full blown implementation mode I’ll be on-site probably two weeks every month. This project will run for four or five months.

Afterwards, if we’ve done a good job (which we usually do, hehe) we’ll get the follow up projects to do additional rollouts in other regions at this client, looking at even more business travel.

Also, we’re currently involved in other international projects in the sales phase. So who knows, I might find myself looking at the inside of planes a lot this year. But as you can read in the rest of this article, business travel might accelerate your path to financial independence.

Life Experiences

Traveling for your job not only makes you see a lot of airplanes and hotel rooms. It also gives you some valuable life experiences. Think about it.

You’re all alone, sometime with one or two colleagues, but often alone. You’re traveling to a foreign country, where you don’t necessarily speak the language. You are visiting sometimes sketchy places – especially if you travel by car and stop for coffee along motorway restaurants on a Sunday night.

Not only does business travel almost guarantee some cool experiences, it also leaves you with a lot of time to think. I often find my mind wandering off, whether I’m at 40 thousand feet above the ground or in my car listening to podcasts for hours driving to Germany or France.

Loyalty Points

When you find yourself in airplanes all the time, you start racking up frequent flyer miles rather quickly. Even on the short European flights you could easily get a thousand points at KLM’s Flying Blue programme (4 miles per euro spent for lowest tier loyalty member).

Even when you don’t fly but drive, you can earn points by staying at hotels through the various loyalty programs. Of course this is depending on how the process works at your company.

In my previous company I had to do everything myself. So I would arrange hotels via the Flying Blue site, earning me an easy 1,000 points for a couple nights at minimum. With some trips I had the luck of running into deals, at one hotel I earned just over 18,000 Flying Blue miles for a 5 night stay.

You can also earn miles and points on rental cars and more. So if you play this right, the total balance can grow rather quickly. You can then use those miles to book personal travel.

In some countries such as Germany loyalty points are taxed as income. In The Netherlands luckily we don’t do that, so there’s not hassle here. Just look it up, sign up, travel, and earn miles.

Business travel can be quite beneficial! This year I plan to spend most of my miles on tickets to the USA with Girlfriend. That should get us into a KLM plane for less than 200 euros per person for a return flight. That’s amazingly cheap, even cheaper than the discount airlines with long layovers in Norway or Iceland.

Salary Bonuses

Next to the frequent flyer miles and hotel status you can earn, some companies also reward business travel with plain old cash!

Some of my colleagues don’t like international travel. They have children or just don’t feel like it. To incentivise people to volunteer for travel my employer pays a cash bonus to consultants that spent a lot of time abroad.

I believe the amount they pay is somewhere in the range of 45% of my regular daily salary. That’s an incredible bonus to get especially if you spend a lot of time working internationally. Of course you would invest this money wisely.

I have to say, the bonus is fixed daily amount (not an allowance though!), so what’s 45% for me might be 60% for very junior personnel and maybe 25-30% for very senior colleagues but still, it’s a nice little extra. Next to this, there’s some travel time reimbursements which might make you end up with a lot extra paid vacation days.

Conclusion

So to conclude business travel can be quite rewarding, for personal development as well as financially.

Do you travel for work?

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4 thoughts on “Business Travel is Worth the Hassle”

  1. Great post, do you have some creditcards/loyalty programms that you recommend? Where to get the most out of it?

  2. I have absolutely been there. In my early twenties I did a huge amount if international travel. 2-3 months in each of Rome, Vienna, Madrid and more 1-2 day trips all over Europe than I can remember. The hotel and flight points were great – it got to the point that I would get an automatic room and flight upgrade pretty much whenever I travelled. That was in addition to being able to use the lounges.

    It wore thin fro me after a while though. Flying out on a Sunday afternoon and coming back late on a Friday killed my social life. Even the best airport lounge can’t make up for a three hour delay when you want to get back.

    Having said that, like you I was glad I did it in my twenties. I saw lot of the world, met a lot of people and learnt a huge amount. Travel always reminds me of how similar and how different we all are!

  3. I’ve done some business travels, mainly in Germany and the UK. To me it sounds more glamourous than it is. Basically it’s really tiring, messes up your daily routine, costs a lot of time and forces you to make many apologies for again not being able to attend some social get together. Apart from that, meeting people from all around the globe is a lot of fun and for some reason I am a big fan of airports. I just prefer do travel outside of work so when I have the choice between a job that pays peanuts in which I must travel a few times a year or a job without business travels that pays (much) better, I go for the latter.

    • I also prefer to travel outside of work, however, it is expensive and holiday time is limited. During business travel I find out I can get more done than at home, since there are fewer distractions. Plus, I really like the perks such as the airline miles (I just booked an intercontinental reward flight for the girlfriend and I).

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