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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
So to conclude business travel can be quite rewarding, for personal development as well as financially.
Do you travel for work?