Travelers Talk Back


ith the imminent shift to Web-based travel planning, the expanding Federal Premier Lodging Program and the growing City Pair airfare program, we thought it was time to poll federal employees about their views on business travel.

More than 600 federal employees participated in the survey that ran on Your responses show that most of you travel more than three times a year and that much of your travel is for training. The largest complaint about government travel is that it too often spills over into personal time. Another criticism was that per diem doesn't always stretch far enough. And many of you expressed the desire to make travel arrangements without having to use a commercial travel agency or your agency's travel management office. But still, many survey respondents said that seeing new places, meeting new people and getting to know contractors or staffers in other locations made much of the hassle of business travel worthwhile.

We would like to thank you for sharing your thoughts. Stay tuned in the upcoming months for stories based on the ideas and opinions you shared in our survey.


How often do you travel on business?

1-2 times a year 9%
3-6 times a year 31%
7-12 times a year 30%
More than 12 times a year 30%

More than half of you travel at least once a quarter.


On the average trip, how long are you away from home?

2-3 nights 45%
4-5 nights 35%
More than 5 nights 12%
Varies 7%
1 night 1%

The majority of you manage to hold your trips to five days or less.


How much of your travel time generally happens during non-work hours?

Some 56%
Most 34%
Little 8%
None 2%

Most of you find that traveling requires using at least some personal time.


Most Government Executive travelers are civilians in grades GS-12 to GS-15.

Civilian Agency Employees 54%
Defense Civilians 44%
Military Service Members 2%


Some of the things you like about traveling include:

  • Networking with field staff, meeting new people
  • Visiting new places
  • Being able to change flights without additional charges
  • Being able to retain and use frequent flier miles


Some of the things you dislike about traveling include:

  • Using personal time to travel
  • Having to travel on short notice
  • Airport security searches
  • Being away from home and family
  • Having to use the government travel charge card
  • Not being able to travel in business class or first class on airlines
  • Delays in reimbursement
  • Bad plane seats/hotel rooms


Do you sometimes spend your own money to supplement the per diem allowance? If so, about how much do you spend above per diem each day?

$11 to $20 42%
Less than $10 34%
$21 to $30 18%
$31 or more 6%

Though most of you hold it to less than $20, many of you said the per diem allowance wasn't enough to pay for expensive hotel restaurant meals you often had to settle for because of time constraints or the lack of dining options near the hotel.


How often are you able to find suitable lodging within per diem?

Almost always 44%
Usually 44%
Sometimes 11%
Rarely ever 1%

Most of you are usually able to find hotel rooms at government rates. With the continued expansion of the Federal Premier Lodging Program, the few of you who are struggling may soon have better results.


How quickly are you generally reimbursed after submitting a travel claim?

Less than one week 20%
1 to 2 weeks 48%
3 to 4 weeks 28%
5 to 6 weeks 3%
7 weeks or more 1%

More than half of you get your money back fairly promptly, allowing you to pay your travel charge card bill in a timely fashion.