Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Travel&Dining > TravelBuzz
Reload this Page >

Per Diem travelers, tips to save money, how much you "made" off per diem,ethics, etc.

Per Diem travelers, tips to save money, how much you "made" off per diem,ethics, etc.

Old May 9, 19, 12:18 pm
  #16  
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: South Park, CO
Programs: Tegridy Elite
Posts: 5,324
Originally Posted by der_saeufer View Post
I was never that cheap, but I liked making my own dinner for another reason--it makes it easier not to get fat(ter)
Same reason I often make my own, too, if possible!
84fiero is offline  
Old May 10, 19, 3:26 pm
  #17  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: YVR
Programs: AC S100K 2MM; UA MP Premier Silver; Marriott Bonvoy Lifetime Titanium Elite
Posts: 29,323
Well, luckily on all of my consulting gigs so far, the per diem policy has been "free reign, go buck wild".
roadwarrier likes this.
yyznomad is offline  
Old May 12, 19, 1:43 pm
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Charlotte, NC
Programs: AA lifetime gold, Marrriott Platinum
Posts: 191
Someone where I used to work said the best policy is where neither party feels taken advantage of. So if our client would supply a meal, such as around go-live, we would exclude it from our per diem at a predefined rate - breakfast $X, lunch something else, etc. I think also that if a hotel supplied breakfast we were supposed to exclude it from our per diem as well, for the same reason.
cmcc is offline  
Old May 14, 19, 1:34 pm
  #19  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: MCI
Programs: AA Gold 1MM, AS MVP, UA Silver, WN A-List, Marriott LT Titanium, HH Diamond
Posts: 47,363
I've worked a couple places that had per-diem rates for meals. Nothing else though: hotels, transportation, etc. were actual expenses.

I didn't change my behavior (vs. submitting receipts). I'm sure some days I exceeded the per diem; others I stayed well under. I never tracked a "savings" - that would seem rather petty to me. I just ate normally: might be a simple breakfast in the hotel lounge, lunch from a deli, and a nice dinner. The only thing per diem did was make life simpler because I didn't need to save receipts. If we entertained (took clients to dinner), that was a separate receipt but our system wasn't nitpicky enough to go back and reverse fractions of per diems. So I guess, in theory, I "made" a couple bucks on those days.

But at the end of the day, business travel takes you away from your family, so I've been lucky to work for companies that understood that and didn't make a huge deal about the minor details. For my part, I've always been a conscientious shopper for flights and hotels, simply by planning a little better than most of my colleagues, and getting total trips done below target budget estimates. Since I have usually owned/controlled my own travel budget, it's in my own interest to keep them lean where it's reasonable to do so without compromising my ability to get work done.
pinniped is offline  
Old Jun 10, 19, 12:22 pm
  #20  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Durham, NC (RDU/GSO/CLT)
Programs: AA EXP/1MM, DL PM, UA Gold, HH DIA, Hyatt Discoverist, IHG Spire/AMB, Marriott Titanium, Hertz PC
Posts: 30,331
When I was per diem I used to stay at a Candlewood Suites. I still got my hotel points but the room had a full kitchen so I would go to a nearby Harris Teeter and cook dinner and get bananas and Noosa yogurt for breakfast complimented with a cup of free hotel coffee.
CMK10 is offline  
Old Jun 12, 19, 1:52 pm
  #21  
Suspended
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 17
I don't personally "make" money from my per diem. That's theft/fraud. I have caught many people funnelling perdiem and corp card money into their own hands, and have had a few sent to prison. Things like buying gift cards, then selling them to a broker etc. Sometimes even silly things like shopping and then misrepresenting the expense reason.

But, I did work for a company that let me roll my budget each month into the next month, so if I was frugual at the start of the year, I was taking some very luxurious business trips by 4th quarter (And some very budget ones in 1st). By the last quarter I was going full fare F and staying in resorts. And it was all within policy and the allocated budget, and never entered my hands personally. As you suggest, much of the frugality was centered around buying meals in supermarkets and using Hotwire for cheap discount rooms.

Most companies I have worked for have allowed me to retain all airmiles, points etc into my personal accounts. This includes points from the corp Amex, EQM's, my code share alliances etc. When I was on vacation or left the company I took them with me so I didn't have to start over at the next company. That's how I buily top tier status on some carriers, cars and hotels over the years. When I went back and forth to Asia several times a year I racked them up very quickly. But again, that's per company policy and doesn't cut into profitability. It's a perk.
ughunter is offline  
Old Jun 13, 19, 2:21 am
  #22  
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Belgium
Posts: 791
Originally Posted by ughunter View Post
I don't personally "make" money from my per diem. That's theft/fraud.
No it's not. Many travel policies pay a fixed per diem for meals based on the area where you're working. The money belongs to the traveler to use as s/he pleases. If a traveler on such an arrangement wants to eat instant ramen and spend the per diem on something else, that's the traveler's right.
der_saeufer is offline  
Old Jun 15, 19, 3:48 pm
  #23  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Durham, NC (RDU/GSO/CLT)
Programs: AA EXP/1MM, DL PM, UA Gold, HH DIA, Hyatt Discoverist, IHG Spire/AMB, Marriott Titanium, Hertz PC
Posts: 30,331
Originally Posted by der_saeufer View Post
No it's not. Many travel policies pay a fixed per diem for meals based on the area where you're working. The money belongs to the traveler to use as s/he pleases. If a traveler on such an arrangement wants to eat instant ramen and spend the per diem on something else, that's the traveler's right.
Correct. At my first job out of law school the nonprofit I worked with gave me an envelope of cash for a two day trip to Charlotte. They said I could spend as much of it or as little of it as I wanted and keep whatever I didn't spend.
CMK10 is offline  
Old Jun 15, 19, 4:17 pm
  #24  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: DCA
Programs: UA US CO AA DL FL
Posts: 46,088
There are no legal or ethical issues here. While there are some countries which may not permit the practice, it is generally accepted in much of the world and certainly the US. It has been in use by the US government for at least 30 years.
Often1 is offline  
Old Jun 17, 19, 1:38 am
  #25  
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Posts: 107
Hmm, I guess it depends on the employer. In places where I've worked, the per diem is specifically for food, travel and hotels because these are expenditures required for doing the job for the company. If it isn't used, then it's meant to go back to the employer - it's their money after all. They do it that way because it's easier than having to submit expenses and receipts each month but they do expect us to be honest with what it was used for.
passionforhotels is offline  
Old Jun 17, 19, 2:24 am
  #26  
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: SFO
Programs: UA Gold, AS MVP
Posts: 4,278
Originally Posted by passionforhotels View Post
Hmm, I guess it depends on the employer. In places where I've worked, the per diem is specifically for food, travel and hotels because these are expenditures required for doing the job for the company. If it isn't used, then it's meant to go back to the employer - it's their money after all. They do it that way because it's easier than having to submit expenses and receipts each month but they do expect us to be honest with what it was used for.
I imagine that works for some employers, but allowing employees to keep unused funds can act as goodwill. While food/hotels are the tangible expenses, there are intangible expenses (physical stress, distance from loved ones) incurred while traveling.
davie355 is offline  
Old Jun 17, 19, 3:39 am
  #27  
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Posts: 107
Yeah, totally get that. Past employers have taken the line that travel is a benefit (if not a downright privilege) and we should be thankful for 12-hour flights in economy on the cheapest ticket possible, being away from home so often and all that. Oh, and travel had to be done over weekends and didn't count as a working day. I think I remember now why I don't work for them anymore.
passionforhotels is offline  
Old Jun 18, 19, 12:22 am
  #28  
 
Join Date: May 2018
Location: Tokyo
Programs: Bonvoy LT Titanium ANA Plat
Posts: 166
Originally Posted by passionforhotels View Post
Hmm, I guess it depends on the employer. In places where I've worked, the per diem is specifically for food, travel and hotels because these are expenditures required for doing the job for the company. If it isn't used, then it's meant to go back to the employer - it's their money after all. They do it that way because it's easier than having to submit expenses and receipts each month but they do expect us to be honest with what it was used for.
Then its not a per diem, its a advance of expenses. The whole point of a per diem is that it is a flat rate to cover certain specified expenses, no justification needed at all.
BRITINJAPAN4 is online now  
Old Jun 18, 19, 2:00 am
  #29  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Bye Delta
Programs: AA EXP, HH Diamond, IHG Plat, Hyatt Plat, SPG Gold, MR Gold, Nat'l Exec Elite, Avis Presidents Club
Posts: 15,228
Originally Posted by der_saeufer View Post
Uncle Sam does so many things so poorly, but this is one where I think he's got it right.

The hotel portion of the per diem is a location-based max: you are reimbursed what you spent, up to that amount. You're welcome to spend more out of pocket, but you can't keep the difference if you spend less.

The meals portion of the per diem is also location-based, but it's a flat payment; whether you eat peanut butter from the jar or go to a Michelin-starred restaurant, you get whatever the local rate is. The only time it gets messed with is if a meal is separately paid by Uncle Sam, e.g. if a conference fee included lunch, you don't get to keep the lunch part of that day's per diem. Free hotel breakfast and airline meals don't count.

There's a reason so many cheapskate civil servants love Residence Inns--free semi-edible breakfast, some dinner-ish food a couple nights a week and a fridge to fill with beer and other dinner supplies means it's easy to spend $15 a day on food and keep the rest if you're so inclined.

I was never that cheap, but I liked making my own dinner for another reason--it makes it easier not to get fat(ter)
You're omitting the fact that the government allows direct reimbursement of expenses if per diems are insufficient to cover the expense (though the reality of getting approval may be another story). This is critical because location-based maximums tend to be out of touch with realities in high-demand markets, and in plenty of cases they only really work if you can book well in advance. Many times I've traveled to the Bay Area and had to pay $500+/night for the likes of a Marriott Courtyard, Hampton Inn, or Hilton Garden Inn in Palo Alto. Government says $239 maximum, which never happens midweek. I don't have expectations of luxury travel, but I'm neither staying in a roach motel nor an hour away from the site just to hit a broad strokes $ limit, nor will I personally fund any portion of a trip my employer asks me to take - I'll just as soon stay home. Doing business costs money. If the trip is a worthwhile investment for the employer, they should pay for the actual cost of reasonable accommodations in proximity to the work site. If the travel doesn't benefit the employer sufficiently relative to the cost involved, then the trip should not be taken at all.
javabytes is offline  
Old Jun 18, 19, 5:34 am
  #30  
Formerly known as I_Hate_US_Airways
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Just South Of North
Programs: My Loyalty Programs? I now VOTE with my wallet!!!
Posts: 2,566
Exclamation No! Expensive & Not Healthy

Originally Posted by davie355 View Post

I am pretty sure the Whole Foods hot buffet is the same price nationwide. It is a decent and healthy meal for $10-15.
As someone who is on an ultra healthy diet (no flour, no refined sugars), I can tell you that Whole Foods hot buffet items are anything but healthy for the most part. A lot of the dishes are high fat, high sugar. The cold selection is good though.
EricH, DutchessPDX and Marko123 like this.
I_Can_Fly_US_Airways is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: