As a freelancer you have less free time than the name suggests. On the contrary, time is always short, because asides your paid work you have to do plenty of unpaid things that business owners simply have to do.
Worst are unpaid, recurring tasks that do not only steal your time but also cost money.
Tax declarations, insurance, banking transactions. And not to forget:
Business travel to customer meetings or events that you do not always attend voluntarily.
Location, date and time are almost always fixed delimiters for your travel planning. And schedules are usually dictated by the customer.
There are sufficient occasions to search and book business travel, almost every day. Here are some examples:
Once you have a project you will rarely be lucky enough to have it close to your home location. In most cases you have to travel to the customer at the beginning of the week and you are likely to return at the end of the week.
As you typically do not know the best itinerary at the beginning of a project, you start to search the customer’s location on Google. Then you look for the closest airport or rail station. Then you check the intuitive route and you’ll find out that none of the simple travel routes and / or means of travel are usable for your specific need.
Experience shows that simple trips arrive too late on Mondays and depart too early on Fridays according to Murphy’s law.
By now, the travel search and booking disaster begins (and will cost hours of your precious time).
Those who give up too early will pay too much money in the end. Or have to arrive the day before and are then charged for a hotel. Or can’t leave on the last working day and need another unwanted overnight at additional cost. Or all together.
But there’s more: Even if you found the ideal trip, the same options might not be available in the following weeks according to changes in flight plans or traffic conditions.
Just to remind you: Worst are unpaid, recurring tasks that do not only steal your time but also cost your money.
The urgently needed project
If you, a freelancer, don’t have a project you don’t gain any money. This does not automatically mean that you don’t spend money.
But it forces you to do unpaid, recurring tasks that steal your time and on top cost your money. So, you struggle hard to find a next paid project, preferably with a high portion of home office work.
On top of that, you try to not only match your skills to offered project roles, but you also check economic efficiency. And travel expenses play (time and cost) a significant role. That’s why you typically check these things even before you apply for a job:
- Where is the client geographically located?
- How easy or complicated will travel to the project be?
- What are average expected travel cost?
- What are average expected hotel cost in that area?
To get all that information, you have to do the whole research that you would do for a real booking.
If expected travel expenses do not ruin the economic value of a project, the travel search and booking starts again, latest with a successful application:
You have to do travel search over and over again. First for an interview. In case of a successful contract you will follow up with recurring searches and bookings for your trips to the customer at least as long as you work on the project.
For each trip you have to answer the same question over and over again:
How can I find the best trip to the customer without wasting hours with searching and combining all the options and alternatives for each trip segment.
Without 1Clicktrips, here they are again: The unpaid, recurring tasks that do not only steal your time but also cost money.
An awful thing for a freelancer are onsite meetings at the customer where you need to travel just for that single meeting. An aggravation are only unpaid scheduled meetings.
The problem with such appointments is, that customers often do not care how external participants manage to attend such meetings. This is no surprise as the employees are at the meeting location anyway and they are paid anyway.
Also typical for such meetings are early starting times and locations that are difficult to reach.
Tue, 8:30 o’clock, Location: in the back of beyond
Or at the end of the week, late in the evening, when everybody tries to get out of the town.
Fr, 17:00 o’clock, Location: headquarter behind the big traffic jam
Anyway, you can expect that the meeting schedule will ensure that it will be almost impossible to find a reasonable trip without having to arrive the day before so that you have to waste money for an overnight stay at a hotel.
Or that you have to arrive early in the morning and waste half a day until the meeting starts in the late afternoon. Or even worse, you might waste half the day before the meeting and cannot leave before the next day due to bad travel connections.
From the perspective of a freelancer, such appointments can come close to the negative optimum:
The unpaid, recurring tasks that do not only steal your time but also cost your money.
The trip problem
Why is searching and booking business trips that complicated at all?
- Because a meeting schedule with fixed start- and end times at a certain location are strong restrictions to all theoretically possible options.
- Because the start of a meeting is the latest point in time when you have to be onsite and well-prepared.
- Because travel from start to destination typically requires a lot of intermediate steps that have to work out sequentially.
- Because there are almost unlimited theoretical options to reach the next travel segment for each intermediate step.
This is already complicated in theory, but in practice things are even more complex:
If you plan a trip to a meeting, you can’t plan forward like you would do for a leisure trip, you have to plan and calculate in reverse order:
- When is the latest time to be at the customer location to be on time at the meeting location?
- Which means of transport are available to get from home to the destination?
- If I need a flight to the customer: is there public transport available to get to the meeting point?
- Are there any flights at all that arrive early enough to be able to make it on time to the meeting location?
- In case that I have to arrive the day before, where can I stay close to the customer?
- In case I can’t leave on the same day, where can I stay so that my return trip will be convenient?
- How do I get from home to the next travel option?
- Assuming that you have combined all segments to match the schedule: is this really a cheap trip?
- Assuming that you found a cheap trip: are there better options that waste less time?
- And a lot of other questions..
No matter how you look at it: If you have to be at a destination at a given time and if your trip back cannot be earlier than a given date and time, travel booking gets complicated.
And if you don’t have the time for profound research, you do not only waste time, it is also likely that your trip will not be the cheapest option.