Prior to Travel

The following are general guidelines.  Important! Before booking or reserving any travel at all, you should first talk with:

Abby Smith
Department of Meteorology, Budget Assistant
The Pennsylvania State University
502 Walker Building
University Park, PA 16802
Tel: 814-863-8566

Failure to follow Penn State procedure in booking travel may lead to loss of reimbursement.


Airfare should be arranged using Travel Services OnLion and purchased by working with the budget assistant listed above.

  • Purchasing a ticket from a  non-designated travel source (i.e. Orbitz, Travelocity, etc.) is not recommended.  This is risky if you want to be reimbursed fully for your travel. To do so, the traveler must charge their personal credit card and provide time dated printed documentation from Travel Services OnLion for comparison of costs.  Comparisons must be made on the same day to ensure a fair comparison. See the Transportation travel policy from GURU.  

  •  If a traveler is traveling O-Conus on federal funds; they must fly on a U.S. Air Carrier in accordance with the guidelines on the Fly American Act   

 Combining Business and Personal Travel
  • When a traveler interrupts travel or deviates from the direct route for personal reasons, a reimbursement may not exceed the cost of the most direct route. If the traveler extends the duration of the trip for non-business reasons and the alternate rate is lower than the direct rate for the comparable period, the reimbursement shall be for the lower rate. This is acceptable provided the University's cost is not more than the business portion alone.

  • Documentation Required

    • The traveler is responsible for documentation to prove that any personal travel did not result in additional costs for the University. The traveler must provide comparable price quotes from either Travel Services Online or from one of the contract travel agencies to document the difference in cost.

    • The comparable quote must be obtained at the same time that the travel reservation is booked. The documentation must accompany the request for travel settlement.

Hotel Expenses


  • All hotel reservation should be made using a personal credit card. Request for reimbursement is done at the conclusion of travel via the Employee Reimbursement System (ERS).


  • It is a good practice to check the reimbursement rate estimator on the Travel Services web page ( prior to traveling to avoid problems with the actual hotel expense being more than per diem.

  •  If the actual cost is more than per diem, contact the Financial Officer prior to travel for permission to claim actual expenses

  • All hotel reservations should be made using a personal credit card. Request for reimbursement is done at the conclusion of travel via the Employee Reimbursement System (ERS).

Car Rental

  • The University has a sole source contract with National Car Rental.

  • If National is not available, a print out from Travelport or an email from Travel Services must accompany the travel form to verify that National was not available. (Policy wording may be revised in the near future).

  • If a traveler elects not to use National due to cost, another reputable company must be used (example: Alamo, Avis, Budget, etc.). A traveler must elect the both loss damage waiver and liability insurance from the other company. A priced comparison between National and the other agency is required for reimbursement. The lowest cost will be reimbursed.

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