Top 5 – How to Maximize Per Diem


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Top 5 – How to Maximize Per Diem

The magical per diem. When you travel, there are lots of theories on how to maximize your per diem. Heck, we even built a per diem calculator to help you.

Here are my 5 tips on maximizing your per diem:

1) Hotels – Don’t be scared to ask.
Find the best hotels (on our per diem tool) and ask if they have gov’t rate. Almost all hotels do – it’s
just some only have a few rooms. If you call early, you can do well. I’ve stayed literally on South Beach and in multiple Ritz Carltons although on the gov’t rate.

2) The Dinner Guy – One theory that I’ve seen used on maximizing per diem is to basically eat really quick, cheap breakfast/lunches (Wendy’s style) and use extra money for a nice dinner where you really see the town.

3) The Cheap-o – Another theory is to just to go all cheap. Breakfast/lunch/dinner at Wendy’s. Probably saves calories in end. And you can pocket the extra money. I know someone that furnished anapartment off extra per diem money.

4) Mix It Up – If you are traveling, you are probably stuck eating with other co-workers. Which makes it hard to be either #2 or #3. My suggestion in this situation is to mix it up. You should do both high-end and low-end on the trip. And you may even want to run solo one
of the nights (a great excuse is if you have a friend in the city).

5) The Local – Find the cool person at the agency you are visiting and see if they want to hang out. Whether it is lunch or dinner they will always show you the best places to go.

Also here are some other top 5’s of mine:
Top 5: Ways to Get Your Next Gov’t Job
Top 5: Best Places to Have a Government Job
Top 5: Worst Places to Have a Government Job
Top 5: Places to Network at Work
Top 5: Gov’t Shows That Should Exist
Top 5: Things I Wish the Boss Did
Top 5: Ways to Tell a Contractor Apart From a Govie
Top 5: Signs You Need A New Job

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Kevin Carter

@steve, not sure how i feel about this. I understand that if you’re not spending it, it’s yours to save, but I see it much like COLA raises, sure it’s nice and it’s part of our employment, but when so many of our friends and family are struggling to make ends meet, can we justifiably take it?

I’ll be going on my first trip this month… i’ll let you know.

Kevin Carter

That said, I may end up doing #3 solely because I’m driving 3 of us to the location and I just spent $$$ getting new brake pads and rotors to ensure the safety of my fellow feds.

Alycia Piazza

Do agencies really give the per diem money upfront? That is classic government waste, no? I mean I’ve never worked at a company that didn’t reimburse based on your actual spending via proof of receipts.


They don’t give up front…But they do give a flat amount vs actual spending…sometimes that’s good and sometimes that’s bad (depending on how much you spend)

Alycia Piazza

Wow – yes – I see…I’m not sure how I feel. I personally would love it…but I’m sure there are folks spending more and the government is saving. Crazy.