Traveling for work is a pretty common thing to do, and often, it can be a rewarding experience. Work travel lets you see different parts of the country -- or the world -- on your employer's dime, thereby exposing you to new cultures and experiences.
But traveling for work isn't all rosy. It can take a toll on your body, wreak havoc with your schedule, and, in some cases, cost you money you won't get back. If you're asked to take a trip for business purposes, it pays to get these questions answered before agreeing to it.
1. What expenses will my employer be covering?
It's common practice for companies to cover reasonable costs associated with business travel, like airfare, mileage reimbursement and parking (if you're driving), lodging, and meals during your time away. Different companies have different policies, though, so before you head off for work-related travel, make sure you understand what expenses your employer will be picking up, and which you'll be responsible for solo.
For example, your employer might pay for the cost of airfare to your destination, but not cover travel to the airport or baggage fees and in-flight food or refreshments. Similarly, your company might limit your meal allowance to a small amount daily and expect you to eat frugally, so know what you're getting into before going off.
2. How will this trip impact my workload?
Chances are, there's a good reason your company wants you to travel. Maybe there's a business conference across the country your boss thinks you'll benefit from, or a multi-day meeting at a different company office your manager wants you to attend. While upending your regular schedule to pursue those opportunities might benefit you in some regards, remember that by being out of the office, you'll most likely hit need to hit pause on your regular day-to-day tasks. And that could be problematic when you're up against deadlines. Before you agree to a work trip, figure out how it will affect your existing workload, and make sure you can afford to let certain tasks fall by the wayside temporarily.
3. Will I incur any peripheral costs by virtue of being away?
Ideally, your employer will cover most, if not all, of the expenses related to your actual business trip. But what about the costs you'll incur by not being home as usual? For example, if you have a dog or cat, you may need to pay for someone to come walk or feed your furry friend a few times a day, or to board your pet in a kennel. If you have children you're usually home in time to collect after school, you may need to hire a babysitter or pay for after-care to accommodate your absence. Figure out what being away will actually cost you, and ask your employer what its policy is on reimbursing such expenses before agreeing to pack your bags.
In some cases, work travel is unavoidable, and a necessary part of doing your job. On the other hand, it could be that you technically have the option to say no to a business trip, so before jumping in, make sure you've thought the logistics through. Even if you don't get a say as to whether you'll travel, you should still make certain you understand what expenses you'll be responsible for in the course of that trip, and, if necessary, try to negotiate a better deal so you don't end up losing money in an effort to fulfill your job-related obligations.