Saturday, 17 October 2009

Business travel, and money

I went to Germany for work this week, and while away gave some thought to my rules on business travel and money. (The day I set off was also the day that the next phase of the MP expenses scandal began!) I find it quite easy to fritter away money while travelling; here are my thoughts about how to avoid doing so.

1) Keep a container of miscellaneous currency, and make a habit of checking it, and taking relevant currency, when you go away.
2) Designate a wallet or envelope for expenses for your trip when you set out, so that you have all your receipts in one place.
3) Try to avoid spending money on anything that while potentially justifiable, you won't feel comfortable claiming back on expenses. (E.g extra snacks, slightly expensive lunches, or taxis, if the policy is to use public transport.)
4) Make sure you get receipts for anything that you do intend to claim back. (I felt slightly embarrassed reminding the air steward about the receipt for my airline bottle of water this week, but it was a very expensive bottle of water, and I had this article in mind!) If you are in danger of forgetting why you have kept the receipt, write on it.
5) Be prepared for time waiting around by taking plenty of reading matter, so you will be less tempted to succumb to airport newsagents and book shops.
6) Be careful about phone calls home from abroad; if you are entitled to claim the costs of a phone call home, keep the appropriate records; be aware of the hotel or mobile phone company's charges for overseas calls.
7) If you are expected to use your own credit cards for large items, e.g hotel bills, take the opportunity to pick up reward points, or airmiles.
8) If you have the opportunity to do any personal shopping, take advantage of this to buy things that may be cheaper, or better, than at home, if you have decided you can afford to do so. However, do make sure you are up-to-date on the exchange rate, and watch out for hidden sales tax, not marked on goods in shops, in some places.
9) When you get home, return any unused currency to your miscellaneous box, and fill in and submit your expenses claim as soon a possible.

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