Travel Reg Changes Affect Long Trips

Government travel card.

If your job sends you on long-term temporary duty, changes to the travel regulations will impact your reimbursements, especially when that temporary duty (TDY) exceeds 30 days.  They all seem like reasonable changes to me, but it seems that they weren’t very well advertised.  (The first I heard about it was Saturday.)  It can be difficult to do things right when the rules are changing and you don’t know.

Limited Per Diem

The most important change is that full per diem rates are only authorized for travel that lasts less than 30 days.  For travel of 31 to 180 days, only 75% of per diem is authorized.  For travel longer than 180, only 55% of per diem is authorized.  As best as I can tell, these rates apply for the entire travel period based upon the overall length.  This change is effective 1 November 2014.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Several miscellaneous expenses are no longer separately authorized, including laundry service, baggage tips, bank machine fees, and cell phone calls.  Some of these items are considered part of the incidental expenses portion of per diem, and the cell phone calls may be reimbursed by your command based upon mission requirements.  This change is effective 1 October 2014.

Exceptions Are Expected

Service members who can not secure appropriate lodging within the new lower rates are to contact their Commercial Travel Office (CTO) for a review.  If the CTO can not secure appropriate lodging, an exception may be authorized.  It is unclear how this process will work, or who will make this decision.

There seem to be a number of things that are still subject to interpretation and review, such as what happens when the actual length of the TDY differs from the projected length of the TDY?  And how many exceptions will be required, and will that process work propertly?

I, honestly, don’t find these changes to be unreasonable, but several things I’ve read have referred to people not “making money” off of travel.  You know what, I don’t have a problem with that.  Travel for work is not supposed to be about making money.

As always, everything travel and allowance related is available in the Joint Travel Regulations.  Specific instructions about the changes can be found in this Travel Regulations Changes announcement.


About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Ken

    Contact the DTS administrator for exceptions not the CTO.

  • JimmyM

    If you aren’t required to perform these long period TDY’s, then of course, you are not affected and could care less. Those of us who do, find them onerous and unfair. TDY is TDY. The cost of day 31 is the same as day 2 and should not be reduced. Too late now….the change has taken place. As a civilian, bring me home on day 29 or day 30 for the weekend and send me back out on Monday. Airfare….not restricted.

    • EmmettW


      This provision has been in place for years. It has always applied to fellowships, internships, and other long-term training and career development type TDYs. Now they are just applying it across the board. The intent is to save money of course. But it will also make the traveller work a little bit to find a pay by the week or month accomodation that will bring his or her per diem costs in line with the new rules. And so, TDY is not TDY.

  • Jeff D

    Let’s cut the per diem of POTUS. His African vacation was estimated at between 60 and 100 million dollars, came home and did some fund raising for three weeks was exhausted and left for some time off at Martha’s Vineyard.