The devil is really in the details when it comes to travel expenses. While companies and government organizations will pay for at least some of the expenses that come with sending an employee off on an extended trip, not every employer will pay the same amount for the same reasons. As such, employees owe it to themselves as well as their employers to create a detailed, itemized travel expense report that tracks every penny spent while out on a business trip. It might not get completely reimbursed, but at least you’ll know what will.
Budget For Success
Budgeting for a business trip is something both the employer and the employee need to do. In the first place, the employer needs to find out what kind of trip they can afford. Should the goal be a few nights in motel rooms with quick stopovers in cheap restaurants and enough gas money to get something efficient cross-country, or should it be a plane ticket, a room at the best hotel in town, and enough money to eat at their Michelin star restaurant for every lunch and dinner?
At that point, the employer can let the employee know what they’re willing to cover, and so the employee can figure out whether to stick to the company funds or go for something better using his or her own money. The employer should also explain how they’ll cover the expenses: a corporate credit card for some costs, a per diem for other costs, and compensation upon return for unexpected expenses would be one example. That last idea in particular is why a travel expense report is particularly important to the employee.
When In Doubt, Ask Questions
Whether you’re employer or employee, there’s no shame in asking the important questions and making sure everything is crystal clear about thinks like the travel expense report before anyone spends any money. It may feel pedantic, and it may feel unnecessary, but if someone makes a mistake later you’ll regret not clearing things up early.
As an employee, you may have resources like an employee manual with an example travel expense report, plus you can contact your HR department if your company is big enough (or your boss directly if it’s not). As an employer, you should make sure your employee knows about these resources and the extent of the travel budget before leaving.
A business trip is a great excuse to have a little fun on someone else’s dime, but first you need to know how many dimes you’re getting and how much of that fun they’re paying for. Itemizing your expenses helps keep things clear and makes sure the morning after you get back won’t turn out to be a rude awakening.