Entrepreneurs: Take A Tax-Deductible Road Trip Or Long Vacation

Is extensive travel one of your unfulfilled dreams?

For years, my husband and I had talked about taking a grand tour of the U.S. and Canada, visiting well-known cities and viewing glorious landscapes. On March 1, 2003 we left in our car to do just that. At the end of May, we returned home having racked up 20,000 miles, having experienced countless adventures. What’s more, by working just a few hours a day, we earned the same amount as at home and will be deducting expenses for the entire trip on our tax return. We plan to repeat our feat this summer, in and around Alaska.

You too can do this! Here are five ways to turn the long trip you’ve been dreaming about for ages into tax-deductible – and profitable! – business travel.

1. Seminars. By announcing my itinerary to subscribers of my weekly newsletter, The Marketing Minute, I received seminar or speaking invitations for Houston and Austin, Texas; San Francisco and Sacramento, California; Seattle, Washington; Langley, British Columbia and several other locations. Most business organizations plan events several months in advance, so time your trip announcements accordingly. Besides appearing at events sponsored by an established organization, you can line up co-sponsors who know one or more of the areas you’ll be traveling to and who will take charge of your legwork in exchange for a percentage of the profits.

2. Client meetings. People I had been working with remotely were thrilled at the opportunity to get together in person when I would be passing through their area. Some of these meetings turned into enjoyable social occasions while others materialized as paid consultations. You’ll need much less lead time to set up these get-togethers than for seminars.

3. Research. Haven’t you always wanted to find out how businesses deal with setbacks differently in different parts of the country or the world? If not, then maybe you can formulate another travel-worthy question whose answers relate to your line of business. Upon your return, you can publish a report and voilà, you have a new product and your trip had a legitimate business purpose.

4. Focus groups. Convene small groups to feel out the market for possible new ventures from your company. You may need just one business contact in each city where you want to do this. Offer a free lunch or dinner for participants and something more for your contact, and ask him or her to round up colleagues for an interesting colloquy on _____ (describe the topic appealingly). To fend off suspicions that this will be a disguised or explicit sales pitch, promise that the event will include no selling.

5. Book tour. Setting up author events is a feasible option if you have at least one published book, even if it came out a couple of years ago. If your book is fiction, the events would normally be readings or book signings, while if your book falls into the nonfiction category, you can either offer a talk about the topic of the book or set up book signings. Besides all manner of bookstores, including specialty ones like those focusing on mysteries, New Age, Christian or gay and lesbian themes, book events also take place at libraries, museums, community centers, churches and synagogues. As part of selling books during your travels, make sure you contact local media outlets along the way!

Reminder: Be sure to consult a qualified tax advisor to determine whether or not your travels will count as tax deductible.