TaxMama s TaxQuips Travel Writing

Today TaxMama® hears from Excel in the TaxQuips Forum with an interesting question. He asks how to write off his travel. You can read my answer to him in the TaxQuips Forum. But what I’d like to do today is to provide more general tips about how be a legitimate travel writer – for tax purposes.


Dear Family,  

This is a time of year when we do a lot of traveling. Whether to see family, or to take much-needed vacations. Some people, feeling the wanderlust, start yearning to take more trips – and to have the IRS pick up the tab. How can you go about this? 

1) Learn how get paid for writing travel articles – and how much you’re apt to earn.

2) Learn how to set up your own travel website to either support your published articles, or to generate income from the site itself. This could generate even more revenue than selling your articles. (See my discussion with Excel)

3) Set up a travel and business budget so your overall costs are always less than your revenues. By always showing a profit, you’re less subject to the very restrictive IRS hobby loss rules.  (See my ItsAWAHMThing blog.)

4) Build up your travel gradually. But write consistently. Do this sensibly, and in a few years, you may just find yourself making a full-time living at it, like Rick Steves or Huell Howser.


Naturally, once you’ve established yourself, you can start arranging for sponsors to help underwrite your trips by writing for them, or reviewing their products and services along the way.


And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about turning dreams into businesses and other tax and business issues, free. Where? Where else? At

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Please post all Comments and Replies in the new TaxQuips Forum .

One thought on “TaxMama s TaxQuips Travel Writing

  1. excel123 says:

    WOW! Thanks for the great help here and in the TaxMama Forum.

    I’ve been blogging professionally for the past four years and all of it has been done from home. In essence, I never needed to travel much in order to write and publish.

    Now, things are different. I am nearly done paying off my student loans and started to travel a bit on my own dime – no tax write offs. But, I always wanted to see how to “make it” as a travel writer… you know, since I’m already “there” anyway. Wherever “there” is.

    Why? You might ask.

    Since I’m blogging, I can take my laptop anywhere… even places where there’s no internet – I’m bound to hit a cafe with WiFi in even the most remote places to hit that “Publish” button. Right? And… I can keep track of my other blogging ventures, while taking photos, collecting “locals only” tips and chowing down on some great grub and get some notes for when it’s time to write about my travels.

    If you take pleasure in writing and/or publishing your own content (that’s where the money really is… in publishing) then – whether it’s for travel or not – check out the few tips I have for you that may propel you to a much better income and more write offs:

    1. If you write for a client, or publish content yourself, you need to provide “killer” content. Period. Whether it’s the articles, photographs or videos. It needs to be of high quality. No incohesive ramblings, blurry photos or shaky videos. Your audience will run for hills. Your best work will speak volumes about you and should garner traffic to your website. I have articles published in 2008 that are still getting sizable traffic and new visitors each day.

    2. Learn as much as you can about SEO and Social Media – to start – and grow from there. SEOMoz is a great place to start IMO.

    3. Treat your business as a business. I did from the beginning. And, it finally started paying off… a year and half later. Remember that most businesses fail quite quickly, so if you’ve got that fire, don’t let it fizz away.

    4. Be patient, but don’t procrastinate much. Waiting to make money is not the right recipe. DO to make money. I worked my butt off the first 2 years to grow my blog and with the knowledge I gained from (#2) I was able to turn it into a profitable venture it is today… then I started work on other (blogging) projects I cared about.

    5. Be knowledgeable, interested and/or passionate in the field you write about. Without that it’s going to be REALLY tough.

    6. Once you start making a little money, invest in yourself – your business – by taking advantage of classes, meet ups and conferences. Just the human interaction during these events is a great motivator and often times idea generator and future relationship builder.

    Without a monetary investment, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today. I invested in QUALITY writers when I had less knowledge or just couldn’t bear to write about a particular topic. I knew that if I didn’t do that, my business would grow slower. Think of each article you publish not as a fruit on a tree, but as a new tree that bears fruit ALL the time.

    7. Lets be honest. Certain niches bring less money and others may bring much more. In order to make money on your blog or website, you’ll need to monetize it.

    Tax Mama mentioned some ways in the forum post she linked to in the article above.

    I am a big Google AdSense fan and have had success with that format, but affiliate based income is definitely my strategy, too. It could be the other way in your situation. My niche (education related) had very few affiliates who also didn’t bode well with my publishing plans (I felt I didn’t want to promote what I didn’t believe in… I didn’t want to sell you what I wouldn’t buy myself).

    For travel writing, affiliate income can be quite the income earner. I’ve been testing some things where I live to show the potency of affiliate revenue.

    In the beginning I used Google Adwords keyword tool to find out what the advertisers were paying per click AND roughly how many people searched for a particular keyword or keyphrase on a monthly basis. That can be an indicator of how profitable your venture MAY be and if AdSense based income is a better idea than affiliate based income. After four years, I still use it to gauge the profitability of new niches.

    8. Keep meticulous records of your revenue and expenses, your business related car use as well (ie. mileage). This is important from the perspective of keeping the taxman out of your hair, but also because it gives you a true account of how your business is doing.

    Quicken and Quickbooks are some of the great tools for tracking what you need to track and are tax deductible.

    9. If blogging or Web publishing is on your mind, please start off with one or (max) two websites. Stretching yourself too thin can be a recipe for disaster. Focus!

    10. If you haven’t already, please read that forum post where Tax Mama has awesome tax related suggestions for this very scenario.

    BONUS: If you need to publish a blog or a website, and you KNOW this is a business venture in the making, consider the following:
    – I love WordPress! WP for short… It’s a killer blogging and content management system (CMS) platform. There’s a and a versions. The .com lets you publish a blog on their server (it’s quite easy to get started) and the .org provides you the software to do it on your own. .com version is great for tinkering around, and although there are some great blogs on there, it’s the .org’s version where the business happens. HINT: Tax Mama runs on WP.
    – So now that you know that you need a’s (free) software for your business, you’ll need hosting to put your website on (think of it as a lot you build on). I love Hostgator for that task, and Hostgator, like many of its competitors, have a one or two-click installation of WordPress which should get you started in your own Web publishing venture quite quickly.
    – You’ll also need a domain (the address) people can type in to get to your site. There’s also many choices. I’ve succumbed to advertising and went with GoDaddy.

    I think the best way to go about the order of getting these things is to go backwards: from domain acquisition to obtaining hosting to installing WordPress. 🙂

    Thanks for reading and “THANK YOU” Tax Mama for your invaluable input.

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