If you have orders to travel TDY (temporary duty yonder), you have a choice to make it a smooth experience or a difficult time. From the moment you get to the airport, to the speed at which you are reimbursed for your out-of-pocket expenses after you return, a handful of tips can easily tip the scales in your direction. Why not avoid a bunch of frustration? Consider applying all the tips below, and you will enjoy your TDY. You’ll become a travel specialist fast!
Tips and Information
A. Make one number out of multiple similar expenses by adding accurately.
Look at all the different taxes on a hotel room receipt. Add them up, and make that number: “Hotel tax,” for example. Make it easy for the person reviewing your voucher to pay you.
B. Do everyone’s job to make a smooth road for you.
Don’t wait for DTS to contact you. After submitting, check on the progress of your voucher and take care of any problems fast. Be a “Nice squeaky wheel.” You can call anybody repeatedly about anything as long as you are nice. You’ll catch more bees with honey than with vinegar, and you’ll get a reputation for being a military travel professional.
C. Join every travel club and get every travel advantage card.
Current rules let service members keep miles and points. You don’t determine how you’ll travel; the government does. Because you’ll have so many cards, get something to carry all those cards in an organized fashion. If you start out organized, you’ll find the points and miles add up. You’ll enjoy that free flight or vacation down the road because you started out organized.
D. Keep your stuff neat in your hotel room.
It’s easier to see if someone has gone through it while you were gone. It is also easier to “drag bag” when you’re leaving a room because you are less likely to leave something behind. Military travel professionals don’t find themselves frantically calling the hotel from the airport to see if the maid found a watch in the room!
E. Don’t let your voucher sit there for five days on your return.
Complete your TDY by filing your voucher as soon as you get back. You’ll appreciate getting your money back sooner rather than later.
F. Scan your receipts.
If you fax them they may not be readable. Check all your expenses twice. Do everything you can to make it clear and easy to process your voucher. Your professional processing of your voucher will be appreciated.
Before you leave for the airport on TDY:
1. Make sure that your orders are finalized.
You will also need a vocal order (VOCO). Take off without it and you may not get your money back for some expenses. Yes, you are serving your country but that shouldn’t mean taking money out of your pocket to do it.
2. Make a TDY envelope for every trip.
Maintain an envelope with related Operations Order (OPORD). This envelope should also be home to your itinerary, orders, and receipts. Your life will be so much simpler if you keep all the papers from one trip in one envelope.
3. Does your travel card function?
Just before your travel date, buy some gum or a drink at a store and use it. Why be embarrassed on your trip? Make sure it works before you leave on military travel.
4. Pack early.
Look over your OPORD. Do you have everything? If you’re going to a school, check on the net to see if you can get the packing list for that school. It is possible that you won’t be able to get what you need where you are going – be prepared.
5. Print your boarding pass in advance.
This just saves you from one less potential problem. Why not put it in your pocket before you get to the airport? Be a prepared military traveller and perhaps wear something military like military rings to indicate your rank or profession.
6. Get to the airport two hours early, period.
Just carry something to read if you have extra time. The security process and the potential for problems with security means you’ll want the time to keep your sanity should anything go wrong.
Build travel habits early which will serve you well throughout your career. You will enjoy TDY if you do. You’ll live with less stress and more rest. Make the above tips into habits, and you will be a military travel professional. Have a great trip!