Business Travel Office

The Business Travel Office oversees student, faculty and staff travel requests and travel-related reimbursements while ensuring adherence with TU, USM and state policies. We also offer training and support for planning travel, entering and approving travel forms and requesting reimbursement.

This page walks you through the entire travel process, from eligibility to reimbursement. For questions, contact us at 410-704-5421, or via the Business Travel space on Webex.

We're here to help!

Drop in to a travel session for one-on-one assistance with travel planning, forms, policy questions and more. A travel office specialist will be available every Tuesday and Friday from 9 to 10 a.m. and 2 to 3 p.m. If others are being helped, you can await your turn in the virtual lobby.

Pre-Travel Planning

Travel Eligibility 

To be eligible for reimbursement, faculty, staff and student travel must support a specific program of instruction, training or research, job-related business function or public service.  

Before planning travel, faculty, staff and students should consult their immediate supervisor or sponsoring faculty member/chair to discuss the available funding and cost center/s and any departmental processes related to travel eligibility, applications and deadlines. Departments should make sure travelers are fully aware their travel may not be fully funded by the department, grant or travel award. Any travel expenses not covered by TU are the traveler’s personal responsibility.

Travel Approvals

The first official step for planning overnight travel is submitting a travel authorization. Travelers should submit an authorization 30 or more days before departure. It must include the supervisor name, cost center/s and supporting documentation illustrating the purpose, date/s and location of travel. Examples of documentation include brochures, agendas, invitations, website screenshots or itineraries of planned research. International travelers must also include an approved International Travel Request & Waiver Form. Some departments require additional documentation - check with your supervisor to confirm.

Faculty and staff travel authorizations should be submitted in Stratus. They will automatically default to the traveler’s home cost center. If there is another cost center funding the trip the traveler should manually update the cost center on the authorization. Once submitted, authorizations route to the traveler’s immediate supervisor and then the Business Travel Office for approval. 

Student travel authorizations go through DocuSign. To initiate the travel authorization, students must know the name and email of their supervisor, or the faculty/chair sponsoring the travel. Students should confirm the total dollar amount approved for their travel costs. Keep in mind, authorizations are simply a request to travel and are not a request for reimbursement. See how to create a student travel authorization (PDF). If a faculty/staff member would like to submit a travel authorization on a student’s behalf, please complete the Student Travel Authorization with Requester in DocuSign.

Planning Travel 

The Business Travel Office is available to help with policy clarifications and pre-payment options to reduce out-of-pocket expenses for faculty, staff and students. Familiarize yourself with allowable expenses before you book. You can also refer to the Stratus Travel checklist. TU travelers are generally expected to make their own travel arrangements, exercise financial prudence and book early to reduce costs..  

Allowable Expenses

TU reimburses faculty and staff for certain travel expenses such as airfare, hotel and meals. Itemized receipts are required for reimbursement; a credit card or bank statement does not count. See details below for additional information. 

Travelers should complete their travel authorization as soon as possible to be eligible for early bird registration discounts. The preferred payment method is the department’s Visa Procurement Card. 

Make advanced flight bookings using the least expensive and most direct/reasonable route resulting in affordable fare. Before booking, review applicable restrictions, change and cancellation penalties. Such penalties are only reimbursable under emergency circumstances or for the convenience of TU.

Flight insurance is not reimbursable since it is automatically provided by the state. 

Upgraded seats such as first or business class are not eligible for reimbursement. 

Travelers who use federal funding to fly must use U.S. air carriers in compliance with the federal “Fly America Act.” This regulation applies unless otherwise directed by the federal sponsor. 

Receipts: Receipts must include the traveler’s name, confirmation number, amount paid and payment method and trip itinerary.  

Travelers should select the most reasonable and appropriate room accommodations.   

AirBnBs: Can be used when it is more cost effective than a hotel, the length of stay is extended and/or when it is more cost effective for multiple travelers to room together for a long period of time. Travelers should request tax exemption, educational and government agency discounts when requesting lodging arrangements.

Cancellations: Cancelling reservations is the responsibility of the traveler. Penalties incurred are reimbursable if the cancellation was for the convenience of the university or a result of an emergency. Any non-official traveler utilizing accommodations is the personal responsibility of the traveler. 

Miscellaneous lodging expenses: Sometimes reimbursable. Allowed costs include business telephone calls charged to the room, WiFi needed for university business, baggage handling gratuities of $1 per bag on the day of arrival and departure and housekeeping gratuities of $1 per day. Laundry is reimbursable after the first week of travel. Charges for in-room movies, room service, damages or other items of a personal nature are not reimbursable. 

Receipts: Travelers must obtain an itemized receipt for lodging upon checkout. The receipt should include the dates of service, sales tax, room or county occupancy tax, room charges, parking and any additional incidentals. Hotel confirmations do not count and third-party travel sites often do not contain the information needed. Request an itemized receipt from the hotel or lodging facility. 

For guidance on making and paying for hotel accommodations for TU business guests, please see the Accounts Payable Accommodations Payments site.

Travelers should remember to include the costs of local transportation in their travel planning budgets. Examples of local transportation include shuttles, taxi, bus, subways, Uber and Lyft. 

Receipts: A valid itemized receipt is required for reimbursement for Ubers, Lyfts, buses, taxis, subways and shuttles. Most transportation merchants email a detailed receipt after the ride, documenting the driver, location, date and payment method. Transactions paid online or through mobile apps provide travelers with access to their order history and receipts. 

As of FY24, the Meal Allowance including tax and tip is as follows:

  • Breakfast: $15 standard; $15 high-cost
  • Lunch: $18 standard; $20 high-cost
  • Dinner: $30 standard; $33 high-cost
  • Total: $63 standard; $68 high-cost 

Use the high-cost metropolitan area listing to determine if the high-cost rate applies to your location.

For non-overnight travel, meals are reimbursable under the following circumstances: 

Breakfast: Reimbursable when an individual’s trip begins two hours or more prior to normal work start time.

Lunch: The cost of lunch may not be reimbursed unless the travel involves absence overnight or unless an employee meets eligibility requirements for both breakfast and dinner reimbursement.

Dinner: Reimbursable when the trip stop time falls two hours or more after normal work stop time.

Generally, the standard workday for full-time employees is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Please refer to TU’s Hours of Work and Attendance Policy for more details. 

For conferences: If the registration fee for a conference, convention, seminar or training meeting includes the cost of meals, you may not request additional per diem or reimbursement for those meals.  

Receipts: Receipts are not required to receive up to the meal per diem.

For overnight travel, meals are reimbursable at the USM approved standard meal per diem rates for domestic travel. Rates include taxes and tips. Alcoholic beverages are not reimbursable. Use the high-cost metropolitan area listing to determine if the high-cost rate applies to your destination.

  • Breakfast: $15 standard; $15 high-cost
  • Lunch: $18 standard; $20 high-cost
  • Dinner: $30 standard; $33 high-cost
  • Total: $63 standard; $68 high-cost 

For international travel: Refer to the Defense Travel Management Office for per diems. Select Per Diem > Per Diem Rate Lookup | Foreign. Choose the date and country, select “No” under “Include DoD installations” and submit. The “Local Meals” column will show the full day per diem. If you are traveling for a partial day and thus not eating all meals your per diem rate will be 15% of the full Local Meals amount for breakfast, 25% for lunch, and 60% for dinner.  

For conferences: If the registration fee for a conference, convention, seminar or training meeting includes the cost of meals, you may not request additional per diem or reimbursement for those meals.  

Receipts: Receipts are not required to receive up to the meal per diem. 

Employees who are properly insured may use their privately-owned vehicle for business-related travel. Mileage can be reimbursed in accordance with the current state approved rates. The rate as of Jan. 1, 2024 is 67 cents per mile. Use Google Maps to calculate total trip mileage and take a screenshot for documentation in Stratus. Deduct your typical commute miles from the trip mileage to determine the mileage eligible for reimbursement. Only travelers who start and end the trip at their regular work location or who travel on a non-duty day can claim the total trip miles for reimbursement. 

Employees who travel frequently throughout the month or semester should keep and enter a mileage log in Stratus. Mileage log instructions are available to help you complete the log. You can also email to request mileage log training. 

University travelers may seek reimbursement for reasonable parking with an itemized receipt that contains the merchant’s name, date, location and dollar amount indicating the payment method. 

Airport Parking: Airport parking is reimbursable at up to $12 per day. The rate was determined by the State of Maryland based on averages in the region. If a traveler parks in daily, hourly or another parking facility, they will only be reimbursed up to the approved amount of $12 per day.

Receipts: A valid itemized receipt is required. Most parking facilities hold transactions at a park pay machine or meter which provides an itemized receipt with the company name, date, time and amount paid.  

Employees and student groups traveling on university business may request rental cars and vans through Fleet Services. Employees may also rent cars through Enterprise (the USM preferred vendor), travel agencies, or directly from rental car vendors of their choice. Select the most reasonably-priced vehicle that accommodates the trip's requirements — typically the economy model. If you select a larger vehicle that’s not needed for trip requirements, you must attach a quote for the least expensive, most reasonable option. You will only be reimbursed for the lower-cost option. 

Rental Car Insurance: Car rental coverage collision damage waivers (CDW/LDW) are reimbursable for car rentals outside the United States or when non-employees are renting cars on university business. Employee rental cars within the U.S. are self-insured by the state. 

Tolls are reimbursable with an itemized receipt that contains the dollar amount, date, location and name of the merchant. If the traveler has an E-ZPass account they may upload the itemized E-ZPass report showing the date, time, location and dollar amount of the toll.  
Receipts: A valid receipt is required.  Since most tolls are cashless, the easiest way to obtain a receipt is through an E-Z-pass statement showing the date, location, time and dollar amount paid. 

Tips are reimbursable as long as they are within 20% of the subtotal on any travel expense except for baggage handling and housekeepers. Travelers can tip $1 per bag on the day of arrival and departure. Housekeeping tips can total $1 per day. 

USM-contracted travel agencies can assist TU employees with travel plans. After you have an approved travel authorization, contact one of the following agents to book flight or train tickets. The travel agent will confirm authorization with the Business Travel Office before using the office’s Group Mastercard for payment. The agency will change a small service fee which will be charged to your department.

Payment Options

Travelers should choose the best payment option based on the purchase they’re making. There are many options to pay for certain expenses such as the Visa Procurement Card, Group Mastercard, Business Travel Office credit card, or personal funds that are later reimbursed. Review the guidelines for each option below.   

Travelers with approved travel authorizations are encouraged to have the Business Travel Office purchase hotel accommodations and major transportation with the BMO Diners Club MasterCard. First, contact the hotel to make your reservation and ask that they send a quote, room confirmation and credit card authorization form to . The Business Travel office will make payment after checking Stratus for the approved travel authorization. 

Make an appointment with the Business Travel Office, , to arrange for all other online travel payments, such as airfare, rail or registration. 

Faculty and staff who travel out of the country or lead departmental programs can receive a Group MasterCard through BMO Financial Diners Club. Email card requests to along with an explanation of need. The Business Travel Office will review requests and approve or provide other payment options. 

Travelers should use personal funds to pay for nominal travel costs such as per diem meals, parking, tolls and gas associated with day trips, and university event meal expenses. Travelers can request reimbursement after the trip or event.  

Vendors sometimes agree to invoice the university for travel-related expenses such as registration, training fees, lodging or transportation expenses. Visit Vendor Invoicing or contact Accounts Payable for more information. 

Departments may use this payment method to pay conference or travel-related registration fees. VISA Procurement Card vendors will block all other travel-related expenses. 

Planning group Travel

Faculty and staff planning travel for groups of two or more should schedule a pre-travel planning meeting with the Business Travel Office at least 30 days before their travel date. We’ll help you access group travel resources and provide you with guidelines to follow so you aren't personally charged for any group travel. 

During Travel

While traveling, make sure to keep all receipts and be aware of cost allowances to avoid non-reimbursable charges. Refer to the allowable expenses section for cost allowances and receipt requirements.   

After You Return: Reports and Reimbursements 

Within five business days of returning from your trip, faculty and staff should use Stratus Financials to create a travel expense report for allowable expenses purchased with personal funds. If you received a travel advance, submit the travel expense report within five business days. Overnight travelers should refer to their approved travel authorization for the cost center/s to use on the expense report. Make sure to itemize expenses, adhere to allowed expenses and accurately report your trip’s start and end times. If you lost or did not receive an itemized receipt, make every effort to obtain one. 

Students should submit their expense reports through DocuSign for reimbursement of expenses purchased with personal funds. Before completing the expense report, students should gather all information for the report, including the cost center/s funding the expenses and the name/s and email/s of the corresponding approvers. All expenses must be listed and supporting receipts/documentation must be attached. If it was an overnight trip, a copy of the approved Travel Authorization must be included. See how to create a student travel expense report (PDF).

International Reimbursements

International travelers should record the currency exchange rate on each receipt and show how the reimbursement amount was calculated. If the receipt or accompanying bank statement doesn’t document the exchange rate, use the OANDA currency converter tool to calculate and document the rate. Travelers should also provide brief English translations of receipts written in other languages. 

Expense Approvals and Payments

Traveler expense reports go to the direct supervisor for review and approval, followed by the departmental cost center manager and financial steward. The Business Travel Office issues final approval after confirming compliance with all USM, TU and state policies. Their approval sends the expense report to the state of Maryland for payment, triggering Stratus to show the expense report as “Paid.” Payment is typically received two to three weeks after being sent to the state.

Typically, employees will receive payment via the same mechanism as their normal paycheck — either direct deposit (if they’re signed up) or paper check. Visit the Maryland General Accounting Division’s Online Service Center to track the status of a payment after it's been submitted to the state. 

Get Help with stratus financials 

Access Stratus Travel Resources for instructional guides and videos on submitting, approving and viewing travel forms in Stratus. 

Contact Information

Business Travel Office

Administration Building
Fourth Floor
Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.