Traveling on the Gov’ment’s Dime
It’s so sweet; I think I’ll take another please
It’s 10:14am on a Thursday here in Accra and I am poolside with a beer and and a fellow business traveler. She, like me, is here for work and we’re both soaking up the sun and the suds as we whack away at our respective keyboards and key ideas.
I do have to say it’s a nice way to work, poolside at one of Accra’s more swank hotels. A way to work that I just found out about on this trip, as it’s my first on the government’s dime thanks to Geekcorps USAID funding.
Before, all my travels were self-funded, so I would be at a cheap hotel. I value food and fun over a room to rest and it shows in my hotel budget. We’re talking $15 a night max, and pools, as well as A/C, buffet breakfasts, and clean sheets would be a far off dream. This time around, with the government picking up my tab, I’m staying at good mid-range hotels that have me wrapped in style.
Not only that, I also get a per diem for meals and incidental expenses. This daily payment is in addition to my salary to compensate me for the extra expenses I incur living away from home for work. Depending on how cheap you live, per diems can add up to a nice post-trip bonus.
For me, I think of it as found money and spend it freely on my volunteers and programs; buying them all the things that government doesn’t allow us to buy directly. Birthday parties, pool time, camel rides, the quality things that Geeks need to survive.
Eva, here on the British government dime, has a more restrictive per diem in that she needs receipts to get reimbursement, a requirement I don’t have, but she also has no upper limit, which I do have. Still, I like mine better. She can only have one alcoholic drink per meal. One! Not the proper way to live, if you ask me.
Next up is what I like the best, a mid-day tanning session before an evening full of conference calls and web meetings with folks in America who are asleep as this hour there.