A side hustle does not preclude travel. Thus, sooner or later you will face the question of how to handle travel and related expenses. You might not have to wait. Your employer may send you away for your day job and you will be faced with the same challenges. Where large companies often have highly detailed processes, procedures, and limits for travel, smaller ones often do not. Therefore, we are left to use our common sense and set expectations.
We have to eat and expect a place to stay along with transportation when we travel. These are all standard expenses. However, we can cover these needs on the cheap, or we can live like a king. Although we should not live like a pauper while traveling, we also should not take advantage of the situation. There is a happy medium we should pursue.
I have found that typical meal patterns work well while traveling. That means that you should avoid eating at high-end establishments for every meal and you might even skip a few. If your travel includes the need to have some business lunches or dinners then they should be at places typical for your company. You should avoid expensive things like a bunch of adult beverages or the surf and turf. You can also eat better than mac and cheese or small salad meals.
Billing, while you are traveling, is something that everyone seems to handle differently. I find it is best to treat others as you would expect to pay them. Thus, if you bill travel time and are not productive, ask yourself if you would do the same for someone in your employ. I prefer to work while traveling if at all possible. That allows me to bill for time that is productive to the customer. I may tack on an hour or two around a trip as time lost to me due to the travel interruptions.
The important thing is that I will discuss my typical approach with a customer before I submit a bill. Better yet, do so before the travel is undertaken. That allows us to agree on how to proceed and avoids surprises. The costs related to travel may even change the approach taken which is not an option after the fact. That makes it a win-win and allows me to provide the best service to a customer.
There are a lot of details that can lead to expenses when we travel. Think through all of the requirements beforehand and be clear on them with your customer. As always, set expectations and tackle these travel and related expenses questions before the fact. That approach will avoid a lot of headaches and can keep your customer relationship from suffering.
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