Travel Expenses

  • Transportation
  • Lodging
  • Meals
  • Misc. Expenses


Airfare:  Initiate airfare reservations within a time frame that ensures best fare options.

  • Coach class or economy tickets should be purchased for domestic or international flights with flight times totaling less than 5 consecutive hours—excluding layovers.  Note:  Refer to U.S. Flag Air Carriers for restrictions with federally funded research travel.
  • Airfare can be prepaid through the university’s eTravel System and airline discounts are available when using the university’s preferred travel agencies.
    • Book Individual and Group Business Travel airfare with the university’s preferred supplier (Corporate Travel Planers) via online booking tool or agent assist.

Ground Transportation:

  • Rental Car:  Discounted rates and required insurances are included when using the university’s preferred suppliers for rental cars.
    • Reserve a rental car with Alamo , Enterprise Rent-A-Car or National Car Rental.  See Rental Car Page for more information.
  • Personal Vehicle Mileage:   Personal vehicles can be used as a primary mode of transportation if the cost does not exceed the least expensive airfare or rental car. Reimbursement for use of a personal vehicle is based on the IRS mileage rate and is inclusive of the cost for gasoline, wear and tear of the vehicle and personal auto insurance.  For the current mileage rate, see U.S. General Services Administration.

Refer to the Travel Policy for more information.


Reserve travel accommodations as early as possible to confirm availability of the room or special rates (e.g. conference rate).

  • Local  hotels may offer discounted rates for University business-related travel.  See Hotel/Motel page for options.
  • When making reservations:
    • Inquire about educational institution or government rates (if applicable to the hotel franchise). Caltech ID may be required at check-in.
    • Confirm check-in/check-out times, cancellation policy and other included benefits (e.g. shuttle service, breakfast, etc.)
    • If using university procurement tools (e.g. PCard or PO), be sure to indicate tax exemption status. Tax exemption is only applicable to Caltech (not the individual traveler) in authorized U.S. states. A copy of the Caltech Sales and Use Tax Blanket Exemption Certificate is required.

Refer to the Travel Policy for more information.


Meal allowance is authorized for out-of-state or overnight, in-state travel.  Meal allowances are based on the federal meal and incidental rates that vary by city location.  These rates include incidental expenses (e.g. service tips, housekeeping, baggage carriers, porters, etc).  For current Per Diem rates, see U.S. General Services Administration.

Refer to the Travel Policy for more information.

Misc. Expenses

Miscellaneous business travel expenses (e.g. baggage fees, parking, tolls, WiFi, immunizations) that are considered necessary for business travel may be purchased with university procurement tools (e.g. PCard) or reimbursed.

Refer to the Travel Policy for more information.

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