September 29 2008 by Chris McGinnis
On most business trips I do what I'm told....I fly when the airline wants me to fly...I walk through the airport security magnetometer when and only when the TSA person tells me to...I stow my bag where the flight attendant tells me to...and I accept the rental car the agent decides to give me. Sound familiar?
Last month when my business trip to Houston was canceled due to Hurricane Ike (blowing a four-day hole in my calendar) I decided to jump in my car in San Francisco and head down to meet up with a client in Los Angeles-- 375 miles away.
I'm always up for a road trip. There's something I love about hitting the road with complete freedom ...leaving when I'm ready...stopping when I feel like it...taking in a little bit of local color or cuisine along the way...driving all night long listening to a new CD or audio book of my choice...Doing what I want to do. It's such a relief to feel in control on a trip instead of just doing what I'm told.
According to Mapquest, LA is a 5-6 hour trip from the Bay area. So I sped off in my black Audi A3 hatchback down through the fields and orchards of the dusty central valley of California. Traffic on Interstate 5 was averaging 90-100 miles per hour and there was not a cop in sight. I stopped once for gas and snagged a bag of the freshest, juiciest peaches I'd had all summer. (That says a lot coming from this Georgia native...)
I arrived in LA in exactly five hours and just in time to catch a busy sushi dinner with my client on Hollywood Boulevard. The next day I was able to get in about four hours of meetings and a farewell lunch. Then it was back in the car for the return trip where I was inspired by the much-discussed Carnegie-Mellon University professor Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture" which I'd downloaded to my iPod.
If all that wasn't enough of a reward, later on when I was figuring up my expenses, I stumbled on some pleasant news: In June the IRS took the unusual step of bumping up its official business mileage reimbursement rate midyear to 58.5 cents per mile due to recent spikes in gas prices. This rate is used to calculate the deductible costs of operating a personal car for business purposes... which means that in addition to all the good I got out of the that 750 mile roundtrip, I can write off a total of $438.75 for the use of my personal car. Not bad!
What are some of the other benefits you've found from a business road trip? Let us know.