Did you know that you can expense travel if you’re a freelancer, creator or any type of sole proprietor? There are certain rules and restrictions to expensing travel so we’ll list out five specific travel expense examples to help you out.
Whether you’re traveling abroad on a content trip or simply driving across town to pick up supplies for a client project, these types of business-related excursions can be considered expenses.
It gets a little tricky when personal time gets involved but it’s not as bad as it sounds. In this post, you’ll also learn how to split the difference between a business and personal trip when both are involved.
Disclaimer: This post does not contain financial advice and is purely for entertainment purposes. Reach out to your local CPA for specific tax information for your business.
What are travel expenses?
Travel expenses are costs incurred by a freelancer or creator through traveling on work-related activities.
These work related activities must take place away from their usual place of work and must be associated with a specific business, non-personal reason.
Basically, whatever the travel expense is, it needs to be able to support your daily business operations.
List of Travel Expenses to Take
The most common travel expenses are generally:
- Bus rides
- Train rides
- Ubers / taxis
- Hotels / accommodation
- Mileage for your car
Additionally, travel expenses also include other types of expenses, which are incurred because you are away from home. These include but are not limited to:
- Wifi costs
- Auto rentals
- Bike rentals
*For the purposes of this blog post, we will be talking about meals when traveling; not meals at your usual place of business.
5 Travel Expense Examples for Creators and Freelancers
It might be easier to conceptualize when travel expenses can be taken so let’s take a look at these 5 specific travel expense examples.
Traveling to Another City to Visit a Client
If you’re traveling to another city to visit a client, there are all types of travel expenses you can take.
Since the purpose of this trip is to visit a client who is essential to your business operations, this can be considered a business trip.
With a trip like this, you can expense:
- Your method of travel (i.e. plane, bus, train etc.)
- Method of transportation while in the city (i.e. car rental, toll costs, Ubers, etc.)
- Business meals* if “ordinary and necessary” on days of travel
- Business meals* with a business contact such as if you take your client out to a meal and isn’t “lavish or extravagant”
- Wifi costs
*Meals are not always deducted at a full 100% like other expenses are. See the Food & Drink Expense section under 5 Surprising Tax Write Offs for Freelancers.
Flying Abroad as a Travel Blogger
If you’re flying abroad as a travel blogger, since traveling and creating content out of those experiences are the main way of making money, costs related to these can be expensed as travel.
This with include but not be limited to:
- Method of travel
- Wifi costs
- Business meals
- Activities for product purposes
Flying Abroad as a Travel Blogger and Spending Time With Family
If you’re flying abroad as a travel content creator but happen to fly to an area where you have close family and friends and spend time with them, then your trip is no longer 100% for business purposes.
As a result, the travel expense examples mentioned above can only be expensed for the business portion.
For example, if you fly to New York City for 10 days but are planning to spend 7 days creating content and 3 days visiting with family, then you can only expense 70% of business-related expenses.
In detail, if your flight is $1000, then you would expense $700 for business and assume $300 as a personal cost.
Driving Across Town to Pick Up Production Supplies
If you’re driving across town to pick up production supplies or dropping goods off at a client’s place of business, then you can expense the mileage driven for business purposes.
As of December 2021, the IRS allows you to expense 58.5 cents per mile driven for business use.
For example, if you drove 10 miles to pick up production supplies and another 10 back home, that’s 20 miles total.
20 miles X the allowable expense of 58.5 cents per mile equals out to $11.70 expense for miles driven.
Driving Across Town to Pick Up Production Supplies and Doing Personal Errands
If you drive across town to pick up production supplies and also add on extra driving to do some personal errands such as go grocery shopping, you can only expense mileage for miles driven for business purposes.
For example, if you drove 20 miles to/from a client but then going to the grocery store added on an extra two miles to your trip, then you can only calculate the mileage expense on the 20 miles, not the 22 miles.
How can I keep track of travel expenses?
To keep track of travel or any kind of expenses, it’s best to keep it simple by using a spreadsheet. Furthermore, if you find yourself driving a lot for work and need an app to better keep track of mileage, you could try out an app like TripLog, which is free and lacks automatic mileage tracking, or MileIQ, which costs a small fee monthly but has automatic mileage tracking options.
About the Author
Hey fellow creators! I’m Sarah Chetrit. I used to be a Certified Public Accountant* and now have been a content creator for six years. I started as a travel blogger and now teach bloggers and content creators how to make money with their content creating business. Find me at SarahChetrit.com or on TikTok, @sarah.chetrit
* I am an inactive and unregistered CPA. This post is purely for entertainment purposes and does not contain financial advice.