Travel Cost Sinkhole

You won the contract, and it looks great… until you realize travel costs are going to eat you alive. It really hurts if you’re a small business, and it’s worse when times are hard and margins are thin.

So don’t let it happen to you. Make sure you and your client agree beforehand, formally, about such details as:

  • Will travel expenses be direct billed to the client, or must you submit them on invoices for later reimbursement by your client? Direct billing to the client is great for you. It nearly eliminates your financial risk on travel costs because you have hardly any travel cost to absorb for a billing cycle. Smart clients make it work to their benefit, too. I have seen a client do it to maximize their discounts as a high volume source of travel business.
  • What counts as travel time? Will it be billed only as actual time at a client site, or portal-to-portal? “Portal-to-portal” means billing begins when the worker departs to go to a client site and ends when the worker returns.
  • Is time spent traveling billable at the regular rate or a reduced rate? Is it subject to a daily ceiling?
  • Will you drive your own car, how will the cost of using your car be reimbursed? Or must you drive a rental car? In either case, is any special insurance required, and if so who pays for it?
  • Will you make your own travel arrangements, or does the client want you to use their favorite agency and discount programs?
  • Will air travel be first class, business class or coach? Does this apply to long international flights too? Does it apply to train travel? If your client demands that you use discount tickets, who picks up extra costs for any necessary changes that cause financial penalties?
  • Will lodging and meal expenses be on a reimbursement basis, or a per diem basis? Per diem is easier in terms of paperwork, but may not be feasible in some countries.
  • Who pays and arranges for special requirements such as visas, vaccinations, traveler’s medical kit, and insurance that is valid in a foreign country? One company sent a consultant and his family abroad for a six month assignment. He assumed his client was arranging visas. The client didn’t. His entire family found itself in Immigration Hell. Remarks: Health insurance is not the only kind to consider. For example, in some regions, kidnap insurance is recommended.
  • For foreign travel, must you hold reimbursement requests until a credit card bill arrives, or is a standard formula used to estimate reimbursement based on currency conversion from receipts? If the latter, which currency exchange rate table will be applied? Remarks: For a fixed price contract, either stipulate that the price is in the currency you prefer, or make provisions to cope with a rapid fall in the exchange rate for your currency. One of my clients recently paid another vendor about 28% extra for a fixed price job because this was missing from their contract.
  • Can the client terminate your contract while you are in the middle of travel to perform it? If so, who is responsible for your travel costs to return home? While abroad on business, my login accounts for that contract suddenly terminated. I belatedly realized nothing in my contract would make the client pay my way home if my contract was severed in mid-trip. Fortunately, a manager had only forgotten to file a routine renewal form.

Spell out the details up front to save your profit margin–and as a bonus, your relationship with the client will be smoother because you have done away with a potential source of friction.

California Travel – From Santa Barbara to Monterey by Car

Northern Santa Barbara County, and the California coast beyond, offer tourist attractions worth spending a few days enjoying. There are a number of natural wonders and great tourist stops to be seen driving north from Santa Barbara. This trip is suitable for both couples and families.

Take the San Marcos Pass road as you leave the city of Santa Barbara. This is a breathtaking mountain drive that heads up the side of La Cumbra Peak on Highway 154. Along the way to the highest part of the highway, there are many scenic turnouts for a panoramic view of Santa Barbara, the Channel Islands National Park and the many miles of coastline.

Once over the pass, you’ll drive by Cachuma Lake. This is a state recreation resource for camping and fishing.

Santa Ynez, for which this valley and region are named, is an old California mission town. Here you will find a number of fine art galleries and the county’s fine wineries. Notable celebrity homes here include President Reagan’s ranch and the Neverland retreat of entertainer Michael Jackson.

The quaint community of Solvang is just a few miles west of Santa Ynez on Hwy. 246, just west of Hwy. 101. It is a remarkable replication of an old Danish village, complete with a giant windmill. The town boasts some of the best Danish bakeries and buffet smorgasbords in the country. Spend a few hours here for lunch, and to visit the Scandinavian craft and souvenir shops. You’ll forget, for just a while, that you’re in the heart of Southern California horse and wine country.

The beautiful state beach parks just a few miles north of the city are yet another group of attractions. Leaving town, travel north along the coast on Highway 101. The road today retraces the historic El Camino Real, or King’s Highway. Check out El Capitan, Refugio or Gaviota state beach parks. They offer fishing, camping, and picnic sites on remarkable beaches.

Santa Maria is the next town up the highway. Santa Maria Tri-Tip barbecue is a local tradition. It’s not like anything you’ll find in Texas or other barbecue meccas. This is rubbed and marinated barbecued sirloin roast. It’s sliced thin, and is usually served rare. Typically it is eaten with corn tortillas or on a sandwich bun, and along with Santa Maria’s slow-baked Poquito beans. It’s well worth the stop to try.

Less than half an hour north of Santa Maria is the picturesque seaside town of Pismo Beach. Most of the motels and restaurants are on the ocean side of the highway, set on the cliffs overlooking a view of miles of coastline. Pismo Beach claims to be the world’s clam capital, owing to the unusually large, tasty and abundant Pismo clam. Several versions of clam recipes are available in a number of the local restaurants.

The nearby Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. It is a 1,500 acre sand dune state park for ATV and 4-wheel vehicles. There are camping and RV facilities available. This is one of the few places in California where driving on the beach is permitted. Bringing folding beach chairs is a good idea.

Continuing north from Pismo Beach, you can drive up the tiny coast road to the town of Morro Bay. It’s a town with a distinctive New England coastal flavor. This is where the Pacific Coast Highway becomes part of the National Scenic Byways Program. Enjoy the road stretch from Morro Bay on the south, along the Big Sur coastline, up to Monterey at the north. Without exaggeration, this is one of the most beautiful and breathtaking roads anywhere in the world.

Exploring the central California coast is a great and affordable journey. There’s no need to forgo travel plans because of today’s high cost of living.

Travel Destination Greece – The Island of Thassos

Thassos is an exotic Greek island in the Aegean Sea and it is situated a few kilometers away from the continent, 20 kilometers southeast from Kavala. If you travel from the nearest, to the island link (Keramoti) it will be a cheap and quick ferry travel around 30 minutes. The season in Thassos is nearly 2 months shorter than the one in Keramoti – from the second half of May to the first half of September. During the peak of the season (July and August) there are sometimes cool winds and rains because the island is completely surrounded by water. There are many hotel houses you can rent.

The ancient Greek legend tells us that this place is one of the most erotic adventures of Zeus. The Phoenician king Aginor had three sons: Phoenix, Siliks and Cadmus and one daughter called Europa. One summer day, Zeus transformed into a bull and took away Europa to a cave in the island Crete. After the act, three sons were born – Minos, the famous king of Crete, Radamantos, the wise lawmaker and Sarpidon, the first king of ancient Litsiya. While hidden in the island of Crete, Europa was enjoying the caress of Zeus, her father Aginor sent his three sons and his only grandson Thassos to find Europa and told them to search until they find her. All head in different directions – Phoenix head south, Siliks head north, Cadmus searched over the islands. But even the advices of the famous oracle of Delphi didn’t help them to find Europa. After searching in many places the young Thassos arrived on the island and charmed by the greenery and the nice climate, he decided to stay here and that how the island got its name.

Another legend tells us that this remarkable place was once home of beautiful creatures, half women half fish called sirens. Those mermaids were singing beautiful songs and thus casting a spell on the passing by sailors. And due to this legend Thassos is the place where the sirens tried to divert Ulysses from his path.

When you travel around the island you will see the many olive trees, the endless pine tree forests, various beautiful pictures where the green trees are mixing with the blue water. But there is some shortage of long beach – you can enjoy the many small ones. But when you travel around Thassos you will find the many remarkable bays which are sometimes hard to reach. It seems that, these hidden positions, has kept them natural and beautiful, because the bus with tourist can hardly reach these spots.

If you are looking for peaceful vacation on some exotic place, then the island of Thassos can offer you just what you want. It is a remarkable place surrounded by water, with nice climate and still preserved the magic from the ancient times. You won’t be disappointed if you visit this wonderful place in Greece.