I don't have an expense account for work for travel, conferences,and meetings. As it should be in my line of work, each expenditure is scrutinized for need. Still, when on business time, we are allowed a per diem based on the federal reimbursement rates. I believe $9 for breakfast, $11 for lunch, and $16 for supper. We have a specific max for ground transportation and parking, and air and hotel is arranged through the company travel coordinator so I do not even see those expenses. The per diem is figures out based on the days and time of travel plus any expenses covered by the meeting host then are excluded. this trip I have per diem for two breakfast, one lunch and two dinners. No ground transportation because there is a courtesy shuttle.
My meeting is in the Chicago area. A quick Google look and you will see that getting lunch for $11 or dinner for $16 is nearly impossible unless eating fast food. The difference is out of my own pocket. Likewise, tips for the courtesy shuttle driver and tips for the baggage handler that retrieved our luggage put in storage as we arrived much earlier than our rooms were ready,and there is more out of pocket expenses. I'm over my per diem for the meals by $36.68. Even had I wanted fast food, I was in a suburb of a suburb with nothing but hotels and over priced chain streak houses. Add to this that I picked up Jimmy John's Tuesday night because DD2's track meet ran later than we thought (I went to it) and I still had laundry and packing. Dinner ended up up being an over priced diet coke, cheese, fruit, and cracker snack and an Almond Joy at the airport for $13.49, but I stayed within the budget. I nibbled while waiting for multiple hours.
Even when I used to have a more lucrative travel budget, there were still limits and I was always over. I also used to treat myself to a nice glass or two of wine when I traveled, might have this time if there wasn't a complimentary happy hour at the hotel. Oh yeah, tip for that though as well. Besides getting reimbursed for what I can, the hotel mistakenly charged the room to my personal card. I''l need to get that sorted as well. I had hoped for a bit more of my time away other than concrete, airports, and stuffy hotel meeting rooms.Still, the meeting content was good and it was nice to be there and back in under 48 hours.