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Plane Wing Shimmering In The Light Of A Sunset.

How Professional Travel Abroad Saves Me more Money

Last Updated on March 16, 2022 by Mr. FightToFIRE

Saving money by traveling? Yes, it’s definitely possible. Though, It depends on whether you can grasp the chance to take up a task or a job that enables you to travel abroad.

Yes, I know this doesn’t apply for everyone and not everyone likes flying or traveling. If you do and you have the opportunity, I highly recommend you do it. It won’t just help you develop your professional career, it also means they cover your expenses for the duration of your travels.

Where does the money-saving come in? As you might have guessed it’s by having your employer pay for your daily needs such as food, drinks, etc. while you are away.

A few days ago I had the chance to go to a near-shore branch of my employer to improve collaboration between us, the Belgian team and our foreign colleagues. It’s not for a prolonged period or to a distant place. This doesn’t matter however since it’s a good opportunity to experience something new and work with people you otherwise barely or never see in person.

Most of the time, and to my knowledge, two ways exist to cover your travel expenses:

  • Through an expenditure allowance
  • Or by reimbursing the expenses
Looking into the aisle of an airplane while listening to some music
If you get the chance to travel abroad for your job, grab it with both hands. It's a good way to expand your professional horizon. Ah, and you get to fly for free.

The benefits of an expenditure allowance

An expenditure allowance or flat-rate allowance means you get a fixed budget per day paid per month from your employer you can spend. This amount can vary from 50 EUR to 100 EUR or more.

Coincidentally, while I was on a business trip for work news came out that MEPs, Members of European Parlement, don‘t require to publicize their expenditures. Now, this doesn’t seem like a big deal till you realize their allowance is €4.416 per month. You read that right, four thousand, four hundred sixteen euro per month, paid using European taxpayer money.
With 751 MEPs, Europe spends € 3,316,416/month on expenditure allowances alone!

Since you get a fixed allowance per day, you can decide for yourself how you spend it. Maybe more importantly, how you can save and keep as much as possible for yourself. Posit that a majority of MEPs do this every month.

Coverage of real costs

The second possibility is your employer reimbursing your real costs, the costs you made on your trip. Your employer pays back all the expenses you made.
I find it less preferable (not that you have a choice most of the time) than the first option since you only get paid back after you made the expense. With this expense coverage, your employer can determine what they want to pay back and whatnot.

This option is the one that applies when I travel abroad. While this doesn‘t earn me money, I can save some money for a few days since the company covers my expenses during that period.

As such, I’m not really complaining that I can do it. Since I’m not bound by a family or a house that I need to maintain I have the possibility to stay away and go abroad for longer periods of time.
It’s something small that doesn’t happen often so I try to make good use of it when I get the chance.

At the end of the ride, the impact it has on my savings rate is minimal. You can see just how much real impact (or lack thereof) it has on my SR through my savings rates page.

Nothing beats face-to-face

Besides the monetary benefit, I do enjoy the fact that I can meet my colleagues from another country and talk to them in person. Technological aids such as Skype for Business, Slack, or any of the other communication tools help close the gap but it just isn’t the same.

Thanks to meeting my colleagues in person I can efficiently transfer my message to the other party and instantly correct it if I notice they don’t grasp it the first time.
It is thanks to small (facial) queues that I’m able to more efficiently convey a certain idea or in case of programming explain a piece of code.

Besides the face-to-face interaction, I’m also able to form a tighter bond. Since I’m out of your comfort zone and removed from the day-to-day routine, I can more easily go for a drink afterward or have a (business) dinner.

So go ahead and travel abroad, just don’t forget to try and do it using the money of others. Well, you know, others being your employer and in a legal way.

You will never see eye-to-eye if you never meet face-to-face.”

Warren Buffett
Chairman and CEO
Berkshire Hathaway

I'm a developer for a major financial institution in Belgium that is present in over 40 countries. I have over 8 years of working experience in the development of customer applications focussing on all aspects of banking. This helped me gain a deep understanding of the inner workings of a commercial bank. All of this experience in both banking and life culminates in this blog about personal finance and my fight towards FIRE.

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