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When you think of someone in an IT career field job, you likely think of them as sitting around at a desk in the same location, day after day.  While this may ring true for entry level employees, when you are working at a company that deals with clients on a wider scale (that is, beyond just the local region) you will often end up traveling to meet with clients and making deals when you have managed to make you way higher up the ladder to a higher up position, such as a project manager.  A business trip could be something as small as driving a few towns over and spending a night – but on another hand, it could be something far, far larger – such as a trip to the other side of the globe, like Tokyo, Japan.

There are many things to consider for costs when you are traveling for business.  There are certainly lots of instances where the company will pay for it – either in full, or in part.  Even in these cases though, there’s always things that you should be aware of as potential out of pocket costs for you – such as getting a passport if you don’t already have one, or renewing one that has since expired.  The cost of this would be $110 plus a $25 fee – and if you’re doing it on short notice, it will cost you another $60 to expedite the process.  If your employer is covering your transportation costs, you’re in luck.  But that doesn’t mean you won’t to bring along money for additional expenses that they might not cover – while they might cover the flight, you might still be on the hook for getting to and from the airport, parking costs, tolls, and bus fares/cab rides.  Or if you prefer to move around at your own pace, you’d want to rent a car – something you can anticipate costing you at least $50 per day.  Meals are another thing you’ll want to be mindful of the cost of, if you are lucky you might be getting a daily meal allowance as part of your expenses – but that would be just enough to cover you likely, and probably on the lower end of the scale for quality of food.  After all, you’ve just traveled across the entire Pacific Ocean – you want to make sure you get the authentic culinary experience in Japan and would want to get something a bit more upscale and fancy for at least a meal.  And regardless of how much your company might let you expense for your business related costs – you’re always going to be on the hook for personal spending money – things like souvenirs of your travels, and entertainment for those nights you would rather not just sit around in your hotel room.   Keep in mind the current exchange rate of the Japanese Yen to the US dollar – presently, one US dollar is worth 106.27 yen.

You would think of a trip going across the planet would be a very expensive ordeal, and you’re not totally wrong.  It’s certainly not the cheapest destination to travel to, but there are ample amounts of ways that you can massively cut down on the costs of your trip.  For instance, you can potentially get massive savings from leaving from a different airport on your trip.  To get yourself a flight from Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport, you are looking at $1162 round trip for airfare – and that includes multiple connecting stops.  However, if you’re willing to travel just a little further to hop the plane, taking the 2 hour or so drive (depending on how thick traffic is/what time of day you are doing things) down to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, you’re looking at $862 for a non-stop flight, netting you a total savings of $280, when you consider the $20 cost for a Megabus ride from Milwaukee down to Chicago and a transfer to the blue line once you arrive in downtown Chicago.  While it will take you a little bit longer to get up into the air taking the bus down to O’Hare, you certainly will make up for the lost time by not having to switch planes along the way, potentially leading to you waiting around during a layover or other unforeseen circumstances that can come up when one is traveling.

These prices are all for more modest options – while you won’t be stuck in some gross run down hotel, or on the world’s most unpleasant barebones flight, or eating the cheapest food night after night, you might want to do things a bit more luxuriously.  Perhaps you like to be pampered, especially when you travel.  That’s always nice, but you will want to be sure to keep in mind that it will considerably add to the costs of things.  Flying first class as opposed to coach will add an easy $175 to your total ticket cost.  Lodging can widely vary as well, with your cheapest and most basic options in Tokyo running you a mere $19 a night – but bear in mind, this is for a stay in one of those capsule hotels – where your room is literally just that, a capsule to sleep in.  On the flip side of this, something very posh like Hoshinoya Tokyo is going to tip the scales at a whopping $1017 per night!  Meals will wildly vary as well – something like Menya Musashi Shinjuku, a popular cheap ramen restaurant, dishes cost about 800 yen – or $7.53.  On the total opposite end of the spectrum, if you really want to treat yourself, there’s Aragawa – rated by Forbes Magazine in 2006 as the world’s most expensive restaurant, a ritzy little place that only seats 22 and is world renowned for Kobe beef.  Of course, a place like this is going to be very pricey – it’s pretty typical to spend around $341 per person to eat here – and that doesn’t even include the cost of beverages!  Another way that you can slim down on your costs is to try and plan to stay close to the main place you will be visiting for the business trip – if you’re close enough, you can skip the costs of transportation via bus/train/cab and just walk, or rent a bike on the cheap.  The same goes for dining – save some extra cash by eating at places near your hotel, or if your hotel has dining options inside, all the better.

Provided you were to follow the itinerary I have laid out in the chart below, you could pull of a business trip from Milwaukee to Tokyo from March 27th to April 1st for a total cost of $2162 per person.  Of course, this is doing things a bit more on the modest side – you could increase this cost exponentially if you really wanted to live it up to the fullest while you are there – but that’s not why you’re there, right? This is a business trip!