budget travel nightmare

Global Mobility Specialists May No Longer Have to Experience Budget Travel Nightmares

The smart efficient allocation of resources will always be on the agenda of global mobility specialists. They do a lot of traveling for recruitment, training, conferences, and other official functions, and they always have to be on call to pack up and fly (or take a train) should an opportunity present itself. With all the traveling that they have to do, the funds allocated for this should be maximized and used wisely. Finance and even management would start asking questions once the funds are depleted halfway through the year. It may not be a question of integrity but the lack of foresight and strategic thinking.

With this kind of challenge, the so-called “budget travel” unsurprisingly becomes attractive to the global mobility specialist. Travel low, reduce costs, get in and out of the assigned destinations fast, and do the job quickly. That’s how the thinking goes. It all sounds well and good until one realizes that there are a lot of budget travel myths that can derail even the most earnest of efforts. These myths are widely believed but don’t stand to cold hard reality. And in the end, it’s the global mobility specialist, his company, and his preferred assignees who end up suffering or holding the bag.

Here are some of those popular travel-related beliefs that can cause an inordinate amount of trouble. Take a good look at them, understand why they’re not true, assess the potential damage that following them can do to your organization — and discard them, never to use again for any purpose.

Travel myth #1: Book your trips six months in advance

Book your plane (or train) tickets six months in advance if you want to take advantage of discounts, promos, and other sweet deals that the travel company might want to throw your way. Reader’s Digest debunks this by asserting that this thinking no longer applies in the age of the internet and digital media. Data, including those that influence travel discounts, change quickly — and six months are simply too long for any kind of planning.

Six weeks would be more accurate. Chances are you can get good discounts if you book a month-and-half in advance of your planned date. On the other hand, the traditional six-month allowance might prove to be cumbersome. It’s not just that better deals might surface later on, but you might find yourself compromising other important appointments or making adjustments on your schedule unnecessarily, especially if the airfare is non-refundable.

Now if you’re way past six weeks, try Google Flights. It can somehow miraculously find you a good deal even a week ahead of your planned flight.

Travel myth #2: Europe is an expensive place for travel

Europe is an expensive place for travel, and that includes the remote areas, the countryside, and the small towns. Seasoned traveler Mark Kahler debunks this by saying that a little budget can go a long way if you do your research properly. Americans tend to see Europe as one huge continent that offer quality lifestyle at very steep prices. That would be true in certain cities like Paris or London. However, it’s an entirely different ball game when you take the train (or a plane) to the smaller cities and regions outside of them. Charming inns, country houses, and even private homes can offer comfortable living and good food at very low prices. He advises checking out Wales and the more pastoral parts of northern Germany. While these places might be a bit distant from the usual tourist destinations, they can offer happy surprises such as stunning landscapes, uncrowded beaches, and private nature trails for hiking and walking.

Global mobility specialists should consider these places particularly if they are doing recruitment or meetings outside the capital or just a bit beyond its borders.

Myth #3: Traveling by coach groups can be uncomfortable

Traveling by coach groups can be uncomfortable; and with too many people joining you in your trip, you won’t be able to do the things you have planned to do. Expat Explore defends coach traveling and argues against its increasingly bad rep by rejecting a few of its myths. Some corporate folks do coach traveling because it is expensive, but later on complain that they are saddled by the requirements and needs of the other members of the group. It’s like being stuck with a bunch of tourists who have all agreed to visit the same sites on the same day.

Now to the reality. Traveling by coach can prove useful to the organization if a lot of personnel are going. A global mobility specialist does not have to travel alone or independently all the time. He can find out when his other colleagues in other departments are scheduled to travel — inter-departmental meetings, informal water-cooler discussions and chat group discussions can be helpful in this area. Then after the usual back-and-forth, all of them can plan one travel venture using coach.

Now, should the global mobility specialist decide to travel with another group unrelated to his company through coach, then he should do his homework. Check the itinerary, and see if the agenda can be aligned with his own travel objectives. Coach traveling is not as rigid as it used to be, and he can have his own “me time” in-between the set agenda.

For those recruiting locally but who just want to avoid the traffic if traveling from great distance,

Airbnb is such a welcome alternative. Even if the job is just 40 miles away, it helps to take one’s time and take a room somewhere you can even take your talent to a short weekend trip. Airbnb is known for great short-term room rental finds, but it’s also a great platform for looking at group trips around the Bay Area. You could be wine-tasting at Sonoma, communing with nature at Redwoods or sailing together near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Myth #4: Budget travel is woeful

In exchange for its low costs, budget travel books you in accommodations that are dirty, uncomfortable, and not safe. All of us have experienced this at one point or another: seemingly unwashed linens, crime-infested neighborhoods, dismal air-conditioning, and bathrooms that lose their running water in the middle of the night are some of the usual nightmares associated with “cheap traveling.” So this particular myth has some truth to it.

However, things have changed given the internet explosion which has allowed the better and yer cheaper hotels and inns to make themselves known. As The Dime Traveler points out, not every inexpensive hostel is a rat trap or an accident waiting to happen. Some of them are becoming competitive by offering quality stay at affordable prices like the ones you see at Airbnb. Again, do a bit of research and start by checking those travel sites that offer honest reviews by customers, such as Tripadvisor.

Finally, a word to the wise. A huge part of the research that can yield useful information will come from the global mobility specialist’s own network. Embassies, relocation firms, companies like California Corporate Housing, and the locals themselves can point them to the right direction.