Is travelling still appropriate in this day and age?
The summer holiday season is almost over and because I travelled again this year, after a longer "Corona travel time-out", I would just like to report on it today. Especially because I had so many impulses and ideas about business travel on my private trip. But more about that later.
Firstly, I would like to briefly illuminate my thoughts on the question of whether it is still okay to travel at all in this day and age.
As I sat on the plane to Sofia in July, reading various newspapers as I almost always do, a little uneasiness crept in. On the one hand, I was looking forward to the holiday and especially to showing my wife this beautiful city of Sofia, which was still so present in my mind from days gone by. At the same time, I could read everywhere how we are heading for an energy crisis and the issue of the environment is fundamentally close to our hearts. Otherwise, we would certainly not support Sciara's project https://sciara.de/.
So how do we deal with private and business travel?
Nowadays, a lot of business can be done online, and I could spend years exploring Berlin and the surrounding area by bike. So why travel at all?
After my holiday in Sofia and on the Black Sea, I knew the answer or rather remembered the reason. No online meeting, no documentary on TV or YouTube can replace a direct encounter with people. Experiencing first hand how life is organised in Bulgaria, talking to the people there, has made a lot of difference. For example I understand much better now, why Bulgarians don't always follow the proposals of France or Germany in the EU. It is simply a very different situation living on the shores of the Black Sea and not in the safe centre of Europe. There is a big difference to living in a country where the society has enough economic power to support us through a crisis as opposed to a country which cannot. To experience the culture of the modern day alongside a rich history at different sites and in the museums, to see and hear how Europe-oriented the young people in Bulgaria are, opens new perspectives.
And here it became so clear to me how fundamentally important a direct encounter is. All of this must be EXPERIENCED, pure knowledge is not enough. In this respect, this blog is a clear statement for TRAVELLING. And of course, we must organise this travel well and intelligently. We should see where we can reduce, compensate, or even avoid energy or CO2 emissions.
What you can learn about travel when you travel
Here at openMIND, we see ourselves as specialists in business travel and travel expense reporting. In our daily work, we show and explain how processes and receipts are digitalised or how easy and cool it is to use our travel expense APP.
But when you travel yourself, and then to a country where there is no EURO, you notice the many little annoyances and/or traps that travellers can fall into.
The first thing we noticed were the Cyrillic letters. Since we also learned Russian at school, we were able to cope and even understand some of it quite well. But what about other parts of the world where Latin letters or Arabic numerals are not used? In these cases, how do I check what is written on my receipt and whether it is correct? This is one of the first points where our travel expense APP comes into play. Simply enter the receipt with the APP and internal checking processes run through and I can see immediately via a traffic light system whether I can submit the receipt and whether everything complies with the guidelines. And that worldwide.
The second issue was the exchange rate. I have to admit that it has been a really long time since I travelled in a country without EURO. The lev stands at 1.96 : 1 to the EUR, almost 2:1. Do you know that? With every price, I did a quick calculation with this simple correlation in my head. To assume €10 for 20 leva is ok. Even at 200 leva from 100 € is still possible. But if the individual items add up little by little, it's no longer funny. 2,000 leva are not 1,000 €.
So how do I keep track of things on a longer trip and, if necessary, with fluctuating exchange rates and more complex ratios that I can no longer easily convert in my head? Our APP helps here, too. Not only does it digitise every receipt immediately, so that I don't have to collect all the paper receipts, which I can't even recognise later. The daily exchange rate is always stored. So I can see immediately where I currently stand with my travel expenses.
Unfortunately, this immediately brings up the next issue. I was thrilled that I could pay by credit card almost everywhere. This works much better in Bulgaria and, as I was told, in many places in the world than in Germany. I was actually able to pay for a small beer at the beach bar with a credit card. But what if I need cash? Then not only the above-mentioned exchange rate plays a role, but also, unfortunately, bank fees.
On business trips, how do I get back the difference in the exchange rate from the day I get the cash to the day I actually spend it and the fees for cash withdrawal? In our projects, we have created a super pragmatic solution for this that has convinced everyone so far.
Travel in private and even more so in business will certainly continue to play an essential role in our globalised world. Personal encounters are essential for us in our private lives and certainly also in business.
We are also convinced that, due to today's technical possibilities, it is important to always reconsider whether the respective trip is really necessary or can be replaced by online meetings. If we come to the conclusion that travelling is the right thing to do, we can and should also optimise it with regard to the impact on the environment.
And when we travel, we should be able to concentrate on the essential aspects. For us, this also means easily digitising and settling my travel expenses without stress and without having to build up expert knowledge. Today, travel expense reporting can really be SMART.
So we wish you SAFE JOURNEYS all the time.
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