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What Is Business Travel?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Business travel refers to any type of geographical transportation that someone undergoes at the behest of his or her employer to perform the duties of a job. One simple way in which an employee may undergo such travel is for training, in which an employer may require that employees go to a central location to receive instruction. Business travel can also include ongoing and regular visitation to various locations in order to provide service or otherwise work with remote teams. This type of travel is always temporary, as the employee eventually returns home, as opposed to “relocation” that is typically permanent.

The purpose of business travel can vary quite a bit, depending on the particular needs of an employer and the types of skills possessed by a traveler. Training, for example, is a common cause for this type of travel as employees may need to go to a central office or similar location to be trained. Developments in computers and training software have alleviated the need for such travel in many fields, though some companies may still require training in person.

There are also many situations in which an employee working in sales may need to travel for his or her employer. This can be a fairly short trip, such as someone driving across town to meet with a client and pitch a sale in person rather than over the phone. More extensive business travel may be required in some situations, however, such as flights to other cities or countries. Some companies may need certain employees to travel extensively to work with individuals in other offices, often providing training or services to assist those locations.

Businesses typically reimburse employees for business travel, or provide them with funds in advance to cover travel costs. An employee who has to drive to a sales pitch, for example, may be reimbursed by an employer for the cost of the gas used in doing so. Airline tickets are often purchased for employees by a company, and the costs for hotel rooms and food while traveling are typically provided. Additional travel expenses for may also be covered, especially for charges that are made as part of an employee’s work.

Although business travel involves the transportation of an employee from one place to another, it should not be confused with relocation. When an employee travels somewhere for a company, it is typically expected that he or she will return home after a fairly short period of time. Extensive travel may be necessary in some situations, but it is still temporary. Relocation, however, occurs when an employee completely moves to a new area at the behest of a company, often due to a promotion or recent hiring.

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Discussion Comments
By clintflint — On Nov 06, 2013

@irontoenail - It depends on the company and on your place in the company. There are plenty of businesses that don't even send their employees by air. They would rather send them out by car, depending on where they are going.

I've even heard of people traveling by train or by bus to get to business meetings, because their company couldn't afford to pay for them to travel any other way.

By irontoenail — On Nov 05, 2013

@MrsPramm - On the plus side as well, I'll bet he usually gets to travel business class. Companies often have a bulk deal with airlines which means that they can afford to put their employees in the good seats, and the good seats of a good airline are almost as nice as a vacation.

By MrsPramm — On Nov 04, 2013

One of my best friends has a job at the moment where he gets to travel a lot. In some ways he absolutely loves it because he gets to see a lot of random places that he would otherwise never see, but in other ways he hates it.

He never really gets a chance to go sightseeing or anything like that. He flies in, works in the offices and flies out again. And the offices of his company look the same all over the world, so it's not like they add to an exotic feeling or anything.

The main advantage is that he gets a lot of air miles that he'll be able to use for his own travel one day. Of course, he's got such a busy job it's going to be a long time before he can take the time off and enjoy them.

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