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I enjoy taking my wife on business trips with me, and I have done so for many years. To make the trips enjoyable, less stressful and more rewarding, you need to follow some do’s and don’ts when taking along your loved one. Some are just ethical, and others are useful tips. Companies have different policies, if you follow these do’s and don’ts, then it’s unlikely your company will have a problem with your spouse tagging along.
When your employer finds you’re taking your wife or husband on a business trip, they will scrutinize your travel expenses more carefully. This is where most run a fowl. But if you can show your employer that you save them money when your spouse tags along, you won’t get any complaints from the accounting department. Some of these do’s and don’ts are common sense, and others are good ideas.
Don’t expense your spouse’s meals. This is one of two that will get you into trouble very quickly. If you want to save both yourself and the company money, stay at hotels that offer a free breakfast.
Do stay at hotels with kitchenettes. When you arrive at your destination, you can go grocery shopping and prepare your own meals in your hotel room. You can make $30 at the grocery store cover two days’ worth of meals for you and your spouse. You may even be able to get a bottle of wine and still have change. Another benefit is it’s much easier to control your diet with home-cooked food versus eating at restaurants.
Don’t bring your spouse to business meals. It’s plain unprofessional to take your loved one to a business meal with companies clients. But, do find some time to make it up to your partner the next day. Give them something to look forward to and show him or her you have fun with them more so than you do with clients and colleagues.
Do take your significant other out for a romantic dinner at least once during the trip. This one is important for the relationship and its an excellent opportunity for both of you to experience a different culture. Just remember you cannot deduct the cost on your expenses.
Transportation is probably the single largest expense of any business traveler. You will keep your boss happy with you if you follow these tips when your spouse tags along.
Don’t expense your spouse’s travel. This is the second way to get into trouble with the accounting department. If you take your partner on a business trip, it’s your responsibility for their travel expenses. Otherwise, it’s stealing from the company.
Do fly discount airlines. For travel in the United States, I mainly fly Southwest Airlines. It’s amazing how many business travelers thumb their noses at discount carriers. You can save money with Southwest because they do not charge change and baggage fees. Some of there Wana Get Away fares are as low as $50 one-way.
Do consider a road trip: When there’s two of you that drive, you can drive much further a field by sharing the driving. When my wife and I travel together, we drive in three-hour shifts each. While one is driving, the other is either resting or working on the laptop in the passenger seat. It does take a little longer driving than flying. But, with some advanced planning, you can stop to sightsee on the way. Another advantage is you’re saving money by not buying airline tickets and renting cars. You do need to be careful not to take too much time out of the normal working day by driving. Do some of the driving after hours.
Do consider alternative transportation methods. Taking the bus or train, like driving takes a little longer. But they make for a much more enjoyable experience for you and your partner while saving the company money. I find myself much more relaxed and alert when I arrive at my destination. Also, I’m more productive than I would be if I’m driving or flying.
Don’t stay at five-star hotels. When you first travel with your spouse, it’s so very tempting to stay at luxury hotels on the company’s dime. But don’t, unless you want a conversation with the accounting department on your return.
Do stay where you have the most guest award points. Loyalty has its rewards in free benefits for you and your spouse when staying at hotels where you have elite status in their rewards program.
Don’t stay any longer than you need to on company money. If you and your spouse are staying in a really cool part of town and want to spend an extra night or stay over the weekend, don’t expense it. Pay for the additional nights yourself. Better yet, use your points in your hotel guest rewards program. Only bill the company if there’s a significant saving in transportation for them and you can prove it.
Do get late checkouts: Most hotels offer late checkouts beyond the regular checkout time. But you do have to ask them in advance. If you are an elite member of the hotel loyalty program, you can get a check out as late as 3 PM in some hotels. A late checkout gives your spouse someplace to stay while you’re working before traveling back home that evening.
Do stay at a location close to shopping or sighting. Staying in hotel rooms with their limited TV channels is very boring during the day. Staying close to a shopping center or sightseeing places gives your partner something to do during the day while you’re working. There’s nothing worse than coming back to your hotel in the evening, and your husband or wife wants to go out because they been in the hotel room all day.
Don’t stay out late with your loved one. Make sure you get the necessary sleep. You need to get to work on time in the mornings, alert and refreshed.
Do consider staying at Airbnb’s. Last year my wife came with me on a business trip to Salt Lake City for a week. We rented a house on Airbnb for $99 a night. During the day, my wife did a few chores around the house and worked in the garden. She did this with the consent of the owner of course, but it kept her occupied during the day. We both enjoyed it, especially in the evenings. We cook own meals, watch TV and felt a lot more relaxed than we would have in a hotel room.
Don’t charge the in-room movie to the company. It’s very easy for the accounting department to spot the in-room movie on the hotel bill and get mad at you. So pay for the movie yourself. Better yet, take a streaming stick with you that works in hotels. I’ve tested some myself. Remember it’s important not to have incidental room charges to help keep hotel expenditures as low as possible.
Do visit and stay with family who live out of town. I’m working in Texas currently. My wife traveled with me, and we are staying at her mom’s in Dallas. Although it’s a working trip for me, it’s an excellent opportunity for my wife to spend some quality time her family. Additionally, it helping to save money on my expenses.
Taking care of business
First and foremost, you are traveling on business. So, it’s important to put the company first. After all, they are paying the bill as well as paying you. Here’re some tips to remember:
Don’t take your spouse to customers. This one is more unprofessional than unethical. Unless it’s necessary and its only for an hour or so, never take your spouse to a customer. Even if they wait in the car outside while you conduct business, it’s unprofessional. Ask for a late check-out at the hotel. After work, pick up your partner from the hotel.
Do let your spouse share in some of your work. When I travel on business with my wife, she helps me with some of my paperwork, part shipments, and some of my other administrative duties. You could say she’s my personal assistant. But she does not contact customers making it perfectly okay with the boss. She saves me time that I use to spend with her in the evenings after work.
Don’t cut the business day short. It’s easy to cut the day short because your spouse wants to do something late in the afternoon. But remember who’s paying the bill and your salary. So, don’t short change your employer on time.
Do keep and use the frequent flyer miles for your spouse to use on the last-minute stuff. Things change during business trips and emergencies come up. The absolute worst thing you can say to your boss is you can’t accommodate the last-minute change because you’re traveling with your spouse. It will go over like a lead balloon. I keep a stash of frequent flyer miles handy to use in such emergencies. With these miles, I can either take my wife with me or fly her home.
Don’t let your spouse be a distraction. Let your spouse know that it’s a work trip for you and not a vacation.
Do show the benefits to your company. Let your employer see that when you travel with your spouse, you are more efficient, effective and save the company money. The more you can show them this, the less likely they will frown on it.
Following these do’s and don’ts will make for great business trips with your loved one, and the company won’t mind. It’s also an excellent way to spend time together. But remember the rule of thumb, business is first.
Please share your tips and experiences traveling with your spouse on company business by leaving a comment below.
Thank you for reading,