Tips to save on travel expenses
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How To Estimate Travel Expenses?

Humanitarians regularly travel to provide aid in places where it is needed most. To make their dollars stretch, organizations need to estimate travel expenses and stick to their budget accurately. However, humanitarian travel can be unpredictable and difficult to calculate. So how do you determine your travel expenses?

Planning is key

The most critical part of estimating travel expenses is planning. Get your budgets done early on and make sure that they are as accurate as possible. For this, you can use an excel spreadsheet, Google docs if you are sharing the information with others, or a specialized travel planning software.

Since humanitarian travel can be hard to plan, it’s a good idea to create several different scenarios. The first one should include all planned trips, such as project follow-up, conferences, and meetings. These should be easy to prepare, and you will be able to estimate costs accurately. Further, it would be best to book these as soon as possible to avoid paying more for flights and accommodation.

Next, you can include a provisional plan for emergency travel based on previous years. For example, if you know that there is a hurricane season every September, then you are likely to deploy staff to the affected areas. This will help you to gauge how much money you will need for emergency travel.

Of course, there is no way of predicting all of the disasters and emergencies that may occur. As such, you should have a budget contingency for this type of travel expenses. Again, you can base it on an average amount required for a humanitarian deployment during an emergency.

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Travel expenses to consider

When preparing an estimate for travel expenses, there are some necessary costs to consider. These are:

1. International transportation

Flights will likely represent a high cost for humanitarian travel. However, it is crucial always to select a reputable airline with a good security rating. This is particularly vital when traveling to more remote areas.

2. Local transportation

Surprisingly, local transport costs may also add up. In many cases, humanitarians travel to remote locations. Therefore, they may need to rent a vehicle and hire a driver to get them there. Make sure that you include these costs in your travel expenses.

3. Accommodation

When determining the value of housing, make sure to check the security standards for the hotels you are selecting. When traveling to conflict zones, refer to guides provided by large agencies and local authorities.

4. Food

All humanitarian travel budgets should include a per diem rate for food and other incidentals. This is a standard cost of travel and should allow staff to stay safe and healthy while abroad.

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5. Insurance

Many companies already have annual travel insurance coverage. If that’s the case, then this won’t be an extra expense for you. However, if not, it is crucial to provide international travel insurance for your staff.

6. Communication

Staying in touch while abroad can be critical to the success of a humanitarian mission. Whether it is activating international roaming or purchasing a local SIM card, this should be part of travel expenses.

Budget considerations for humanitarian travel

There are some special considerations for expenses related to humanitarian travel. First and foremost, safety and security should come first. For some destinations, this means paying more than the average market rate of travel. Alternatively, as we mentioned earlier, only flying with airlines with a proven track record for safety.

On the other hand, health is another essential factor. Humanitarians often deploy to areas with limited healthcare facilities. In the aftermath of disasters, there may be epidemics of diseases that are not typical back home. It’s important to provide insurance and cover any necessary healthcare costs for humanitarian travelers.

Further, equipment for humanitarian travel may represent a substantial cost. Your team may need to purchase and carry equipment from home or obtain it once they arrive at their destination. It may also mean that they need to pay for extra luggage or taxes to bring the necessary equipment with them. If the success of their project depends on it, then it is another essential expense to include in your planning.

How to save money

Of course, there are plenty of ways to save money, even on humanitarian travel expenses. Only by planning your travel expenses, you can save money! However, there are other travel discounts available. For example, some airlines offer special discounts for humanitarian travelers.

If your staff deploys to a specific area frequently, you may be able to obtain special rates at hotels and for local transportation. You might also have the option of negotiating group discount rates if your strong forge partnerships with travel companies.

However, while savings are essential, making sure that your staff is in good hands is the first and foremost concern of humanitarian travel!

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