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Finances & Money

Travel Tip: Go with your spouse on business trips

For those of you who travel for business, even just once in your career, here’s a secret travel trip we’ve been using to save money. Take your spouse (or any companion) with you on the business trip to save on lodging and some travel expenses. Granted, this also assumes that you’re going somewhere pleasant, and that airfares are not prohibitively expensive, but here’s some of our own trips as examples:

How we saved by mixing business and pleasure

– In 2006, my company sent me to a conference in San Francisco for a week. It was a really nice hotel in the heart of the city, and even though I was in meetings all day, Stacie still found things to do. We stayed an extra day (and paid out of pocket for the hotel for that night), but we got to see Alcatraz on our own. Additionally, the conference offered “spouse event passes” where for an extra $75 I could get Stacie into their evening events, as well as meals for all 4 days. We saved loads on hotel and meals that trip, and only had to pay extra for her plane ticket (about $450), the “spouse pass”, the extra hotel night and souvenirs/misc. Our week-long trip for 2 in San Francisco came out to under $700.

– In April 2009, Stacie’s employer sent her to a 2-day conference in Chicago, and I decided to tag along. I paid $300 for the flight (although it was only $200 a day before I bought). We got in on a Friday and we toured the city with a coworker that night. On Saturday, I used the day to rent a car and go see my grandmother for the first time in about 20 years, as well as an aunt and cousins who I haven’t seen in the same amount of time, if ever.

– In May 2009, my new employer sent me to a conference in Orlando for a week. Both my boss and coworker were bringing their spouses, so there was no question I would bring Stacie. It was good timing since her uncle underwent heart surgery in Tampa that same week, so she was able to rent a car and go visit him after the surgery. The flight was $200 (Southwest rocks!), and my boss snagged free spouse passes for the evening events which saved us $150. My employer covered both our meals under the daily per diem, so in the end, it was just rental cars (we rented one on another day) and a couple lunches for Stacie while I was at the conference. Our hotel was top-notch and cost $1500 for the 5 days, all paid by my employer. Not a bad trip for under $300 out of our pocket, except that it rained all by the first 1.5 days!

Tips for Saving Money while Traveling with Spouse on Business

Having done this 3 times now, I’ve learned a few tricks to saving even more money than just lodging:

  • Don’t feel like you need to book the same flight or airline. Had I booked a different airline, I could have saved a wad of cash, although one of us may have arrived before the other. Depending on the cost, though, the inconvenience of waiting may be worth it.
  • If you get a per diem (for food), try to spend for both under that amount. Our daily per diem with my current employer is $50 per day, which certainly paid for a nice dinner since I got breakfasts and lunches provided by the conference.
  • Utilize the “spouse event tickets” for networking/socializing. While $75 for a night at a science museum and a few meals seems like a lot, if I had skipped it to spend a night out with just my wife, I would have lost an opportunity to network with fellow peers in my field. This isn’t a way to save money, but it could make you more money in the future with the contacts and knowledge gained at these events. A way to save money is for your spouse to plan his or her own evening, but what fun is that?
  • Stay a few days longer. While it may cost you out of pocket to stick around another day or two, it’s cheaper to pay for the hotel room, and maybe the difference in cost for the airline ticket, than to book the trip to that location by yourself. While you’re there, you might as well take advantage of the opportunity to see the sights! Who knows when we’ll get back to California or Orlando!

How about all of you? Have you gone with a spouse on a trip? Was it worth it even though your honey was busy all day? Any other tips?

About the author

Clever Dude

3 Comments

  • I live in New Zealand and one year my boss informed me that I had to go to a conference in London. My salary was restructured so I took $2500 as a ‘discretionary travel allowance’ which was used to pay my husbands airfare, and hotels etc during our stopovers in LA, Singapore and Bali. This meant the whole $2500 could be spent on trave instead of the after tax amount.

    While I stayed in a hotel in the middle of London he stayed with friends just outside of London for a few days while I worked. Then he joined me in my Hotel for the last two days and we both managed to get around the tourist hotspots and have a good time.

    Even thought the conference was only for a week, we were away for a month choosing to spend a week in LA on the way there, and two weeks in Singapore and Bali on the way home. So all up for a month away it ended up costing me the $2500 from my salary and an extra $2000. Not bad for a months holiday on the other side of the world. AND remember, the NZ$ was half the value of the US$ back then…so very cheap.

  • Too bad my hubby only seems to travel to unappealing destinations where cattle ranches dominate the landscape. Oh, well! This IS a great idea though and a wonderful example of how you can use the power of small to save yourself a bit of cash. I read the book of the same name after I saw a guest post the authors did on GenX Finance and now I see examples of how you can apply it everywhere, even though it’s not strictly a PF book.

  • My wife has only gone with me on one business trip , which was a weekend training seminar. The company picked up the hotel, and there was a reception on the first night, so we didn’t have to pay for dinner. My per diem covered our other meals, and we drove to the seminar, so our gas was covered also. I would welcome the opportunity to do it again. It was a cheap trip for us.

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