This past year I got to travel to Dallas, Minneapolis, and Seattle. I have even made side trips to DC and NYC. I paid $0 for my plane tickets and took zero days’ time off. How?! Work travel.
As someone who was an auditor, occasionally I got to travel to client sites. Sometimes this meant traveling to the middle of nowhere like Metropolis, Illinois, which wasn’t too exciting. However, occasionally, I would score a sweet trip to a fun, new city.
You may have a career where you are required to travel. This could be every once in a while or even the lucky ones who get to explore the world. Some people dread the thought of taking a work trip and being away for an extended period of time. My thoughts? You get a free flight and a new chance to explore a place you probably haven’t been to before!
For instance, I had to travel for two weeks, the first week to Minneapolis and the second to Seattle. I had never been to either city, so I made the most of it. Of course I had to work during the week, but having nights and even a weekend free in a new city is a lot of fun. I ended up seeing the Mall of America, the outside of Paisley Park (where Prince lived), and Lake Minnetonka while staying in Minneapolis. Then, I got to see the Space Needle, go kayaking on the Puget Sound, visit Pike Place Market, drink all that delicious beer and coffee, and even hike on Mt. Rainer in Seattle.
Here’s what you can do to make the most of work travel:
- See if you can fly out there a couple of days early and spend the weekend. I flew straight from Minneapolis to Seattle, rather than flying back home that weekend. That gave me 3 days (they gave me that Friday off for travel) to explore Seattle before even going into work that Monday! The only thing I had to pay for was my 2 night hostel stay and meals over the weekend. I even ended up saving my company money by not purchasing a return flight home in between both trips.
- Ask if you can fly to/from another location on the way to/back from your trip. I got to fly from Cleveland to Dallas for work training and then Dallas to DC for the weekend. If the cost of two one way tickets is less than a roundtrip flight, a lot of the time your company will allow you to book it. Or if there is a slight price difference, you just pay the difference. You then only have to pay for a one way ticket back home, which is typically cheaper than a roundtrip flight.
- Want to save your precious time off? Again, utilize those weekends! If your travel time is falling on a holiday weekend, utilize that! I had a work training in Dallas the week before Memorial Day weekend and ended up flying to DC and spending 3 days before coming back to Cleveland. No taking time off needed. It was glorious and so satisfying knowing that I took zero time off and could save that time for even more trips.
- Rack up those mile/hotel points. Typically, your work doesn’t have a miles or points account set up, but you can collect those! When I travel for work, I typically fly Delta, and so far, I’ve racked up 5,000 miles just from work flights. Most domestic roundtrip flights are about 25,000 miles, so, depending on how often you travel for work, you could be flying for free in no time on your own personal vacation! Setting up a frequent flyer account is free, and super easy. Just go to the airline’s website and go to their frequent flyer page. This also works for hotels. Join the hotel loyalty program, and collect those points to earn your own free night stay somewhere.
These are just some ways to make the most of your work travel. But, be SURE to run this by your employer or read your policy manual before doing so. Most of the time, there shouldn’t be a problem. So get out there and travel for free!
Enjoy your newest travel hacking strategy! Where is work taking you?