July 26, 2016
by Bob Meyer, Editor of BarterNews
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Tax-Deductible Travel Ideas
If you're planning a late summer vacation there are ways you may be
able to use the tax code to help subsidize that summer trip to some
popular tourist haven. Here are some possibilities:
vacation with business.
One ticket to tax-deductible travel is
to tack some vacation onto a business trip you're scheduled to take
If the primary purpose of your trip is business,
you can deduct the cost of getting to and from your destination. For
example, say you have a five-day professional convention in Honolulu
this summer and you plan to stay an extra few days to lie on the
beach and sample the sea breezes.
You could deduct 100% of your
round-trip airfare to Hawaii. There is no need to prorate the costs
based on the proportion of time you spent vacationing.
contrast, food and lodging costs usually must be prorated — only
those attributable to your five-day business convention would be
deductible. There are, however, a couple of situations where you can
deduct living expenses for your vacation days. If you have business
to conduct on a Friday and Monday, you can deduct food and lodging
for the Saturday and Sunday in between, even if you spend the entire
→ Family travel.
Taking your family
on a deductible trip won't diminish your write-offs. The IRS allows
you to deduct whatever it would have cost you to travel alone. So
when figuring your deduction for lodging, you can deduct the
single-occupancy rate for your room, which will usually be just
slightly less than the double-occupancy rate you actually pay for
you and your family.
If you drive to your destination, you
can deduct the full cost of your round-trip transportation, because
you would incur the same cost traveling alone in the car. Of course,
if you're traveling by plane or train, only your fare is deductible.
→ Summer school.
Professional seminars offer another chance
for deductible travel. Continuing-education courses and seminars for
doctors, lawyers and other professionals are often held in popular
tourist areas. Travel costs are deductible if the education is
needed to maintain or upgrade skills in your job, and if education
is the main purpose of your trip.
→ Charitable trips.
Volunteer charity work can also lead to deductible travel
opportunities. Travel to an out-of-town convention of a charitable
or religious organization can be deductible — but only if you're an
official delegate to the convention. If you're performing charitable
work away from home, you may be able to deduct the travel costs. For
example, scoutmasters who take Boy Scout troops on summer camping
trips can deduct travel expenses as a charitable contribution.
→ Investment trips.
If you own an out-of-town rental property,
you can deduct trips to look after your investment. But be prepared
to prove that the primary purpose of your trip was to manage or work
on the property — not to just vacation there.
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Getting The Best Deal On Your Airline
Airfare tends to be the most cost-prohibitive (expensive) part of
planning a vacation or trip. Plus during the course of a day, prices
fluctuate depending on availability. And with delayed flights,
over-crowded cabins, excess fees and no free food, it's surprising
that airlines are able to charge such high ticket prices.
Despite the abundance of meta-search engines like Kayak, Google
Flights, or Fly.com and online travel agencies (OTAs), finding the
lowest priced airfare is still a tedious process. That’s because
prices change minute-by-minute, and it takes time to find the
Doing research is only one
way to get a cheap ticket; another way is to shop in the "magic
window." Prior to 28 days before your trip, ticket prices are pretty
much the same. But during the period of 18 to 28 days prior to your
trip, prices are at the lowest. This time-slot is your magic window
for booking. Domestic fares bottom-out exactly 21 days before
The last 18 days prior to your trip, prices start
ticking up. The average fare increases 5% two weeks before
departure, with fares increasing 30% from their lows the last seven
days before departure. International fares don't have as much
fluctuation; 34 days before departure, fares are only about 4% lower
than the average at six months before departure.
Be sure to
reserve your hotel suite when you book airfare. As a general rule of
thumb, the more you can tack-on to your vacation package upfront —
even including things like meals and tours — the better the savings
over separate do-it-yourself pricing.
When booking a package
deal, OTA's are better able to package these deals than airlines.
You can save an average of $525 on a vacation, with an average of
$1,000 saved for weeklong vacations to very popular destinations
through an OTA.
Airlines announce their sales on Tuesdays,
competing with each other and unveiling their latest fares for the
next few months. Mid-day Tuesday to late-day Tuesday or early
Wednesday is a good 24-hour sweet spot when you can find the latest
sales. The airlines also release their last-minute weekend deals on
Tuesdays, so flexibility is your best friend for booking airfare
along with a willingness to go where the bargains are.
Departure time and day matters. Wednesday is the best day to depart,
followed by Tuesday and Saturday. Experts cite savings of up to 10%
when traveling midweek to midweek. For a weekend trip, you'll find
that airfare is cheapest when you depart on Saturday and return on
Flying during certain times can also reduce your
airfare bill. The very early morning flights, particularly if you're
going on a leisure vacation, tend to be less expensive than midday
departures. Plus these flights usually have the lowest risk for
delay or cancellation, since the plane and crew are already at the
airport. Overnight flights can usually be good bargains, as well as
late afternoon or dinner flights.
Special tip: When
you're doing your search, don't initially specify departure times.
This way, you'll be able to see the time of day that really is the
cheapest to fly.
Flights from smaller airports can be
cheaper. Experts also suggest looking at fares for airports within a
reasonable radius of your destination. The larger players sometimes
monopolize large airports. Savings for flying into a smaller airport
may justify more time in the car spent driving to your destination.
Consider one-stop as opposed to non-stop flights. When the stop
is in the airline's hub city, it can generate some dramatic savings
and thus lower fares. When traveling with small children, time
during a layover may be a welcome break from the plane.
One-way tickets can be a bargain. Buying two one-way tickets from
different airlines may be cheaper than a round-trip ticket. Many
meta-search engines will do this for you, such as Kayak's "Hacker
Continue to check fares after you book. If fares
drop within 24-hours after you've obtained your ticket, you can
cancel your flight without paying a fee or penalty, according to
Department of Transportation regulations. However, the flight must
depart more than a week from the time the ticked was procured. If
fares drop outside this 24-hour window most airlines have a credit
or refund policy, but they may charge a fee.
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