So far in my life as an analytics consultant I have been fortunate to not have to travel for weeks or months on end to client sites for projects. I’ve been able to work on all the various projects for my clients remotely, sitting in my cozy home office. That isn’t to say that I wouldn’t be willing to travel for my clients – I happen to love travel. I used to take a lot of business trips out to the Bay Area during my 11 year tenure at the high-tech company I used to work for. During the hey-day I’d be out there 5-6 time each year and I became such a regular at the Sheraton in Milpitas that I often was able to request a specific room (41A as I recall).
As a consultant, travel works a little differently, depending on the company policies of my clients. I certainly can’t bill them for every hour I’m traveling on business for them – that would be awesome for my bank account, but hardly fair for them. However my standard “work-from-home” rate doesn’t quite cut it to cover airfare, hotel and food expenses either. Here is where I decided to offer any client who does ask me to travel a choice of options:
- Pay me a slightly increased rate for every hour I’m actually on-site and working.
- Offer me a stipend to help cover at least part of my travel costs.
- Cover my travel expenses in the same way you would an employee/contractor.
These options allows me to be flexible within my clients company travel policies regarding consultants while still not having to eat into my personal budget while traveling for them.
If you are a consultant or contractor, how do you manage your travel and time with clients? What’s your policy on how they pay for your travel, or do you cover the expenses yourself?