by Maria K Todd, MHA PhD
CEO & Founder
Mercury Healthcare International
Want to save money on your next vacation travel opportunity?
Many websites share tips and hacks about how to save you money on vacation. Most don't share this one.
"Bleisure travel" is the combination word for when someone combines or extends a business trip with leisure stopovers and extended stays to play while off the clock.
With a little smart planning, your work trip can underwrite some if not all of your next vacation. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Join 'em all. Whether for hotels, airlines, or websites, join every one and place the entire list of membership ids and passwords in your contact file under "Travel Programs". That way they are all in one place and with you wherever your contacts go.
Fly Premium Economy
If your employer permits premium ticketing for long-haul trips ask if this is okay. In preparing your preemptive argument, keep in mind that when an international business class ticket is listed at full price for $6500, your corporate travel agent will likely get some discount. So don't embarrass yourself with a screen grab of that page from a website and expect anyone to base permission on that. Ask the corporate travel desk what the negotiated discount rate of the ticket would be, get a written memo to that effect. Then go shop premium economy for two. While it is a win-win for both company and employee if they permit you to do the swap, many companies just say now and drop those savings to bottom line. Be warned, though - leg room is critical on long flights. Even in premium economy, wear support hose, drink water and walk around hourly if possible. Buy an annual travel policy for about $440 from Allianz just in case you get a DVT or experience a health problem while traveling.
Stay Over the Weekend
My first time I did this was to explore the Oregon Coast. I was supposed to return from my speaking tour from Eugene on Friday evening. Instead, the flight was so expensive I asked if I could fly home on Monday - or to my next speaking location on Monday from Portland. The difference was more than $1000. The seminar company said "of course". I kept the car, returned in Portland instead of Eugene, and found three lovely hotels for Saturday and Sunday night. I stayed in my Thursday night hotel an extra night to avoid an extra move after speaking all day. On Saturday, I woke up late, ate breakfast, checked out and headed to the coast. I drove up the coast, stopped wherever I wanted and when I got tired and hungry I stopped without reservations and had a blast. At Astoria, I made a right turn. I chose a hotel near the airport, did a quick load of laundry at a laundromat, repacked my luggage, and continued on to my next three stops on my speaking tour. When I turned in my expense sheet, I listed the stayover charges for gas, food, and lodging and car rental. It was less than the $1000 and the seminar company didn't flinch. They were happy to save about $400 of the $1000. Now that I own the company, I allow staff to do this anytime it makes sense.
Travel to a Destination Where you Can Schedule an Executive Checkup
If you have a funded HSA or HRA account, and your company has already covered the cost of your airfare for a conference, meeting or client visit, consider scheduling your Executive Checkup at your destination.
Need help? We can arrange it for you almost anywhere in the world.
Pull out your HSA or HRA debit card to pay for the medical services, and at least two nights' accommodation and reasonable related expenses. Use your personal credit card for all other incidentals. No more running around town on 14 different days to get blood work, mammogram, pap smear, and other diagnostic tests done - and in many locations abroad your whole checkup may cost less than your copay back home. If your company offers an executive or senior management perk and covers this for others, ask if you can submit the bill on your return. Be sure to bring home copies of all your medical records. Michelin employees and many at other companies can now earn up to $2000 a year as a health reimbursement arrangement for a biometrics scan. Scans are scans, and they are no different whether they are done in Boise or Bangkok - except Bangkok will probably be more fun -- and less expensive.
Check out this story from a small business owner who took advantage of our Executive Checkup program for his team and spouses
"Comprehensive, Efficient and Professional!"
... an excellent experience for all our company executives and their spouses ... saved us more than 100 hours ...pure genius! We can't wait to pick another location for next year!"