Expense Reporting from the Road

Business travel is work. It’s part of the job, it’s essential to being effective, and if you don’t manage your travel receipts properly, it can eat a big chunk out of your income.

If you’re a seasoned business traveler, you already know that going paperless is your salvation. Some even invest in portable scanners with internal memory. Not a bad approach, but it is one more piece of equipment to lug along, and I personally am a fan of travelling light.

Your phone is your friend. There are a variety of apps out there for Android and iPhones that will allow you to take a picture of your receipts and upload them automatically to an expense reporting system. If your system doesn’t allow for this, just capturing the receipt for later will help you avoid losing receipts. Lost receipts are an enormous hassle when submitting expense reports, even (or maybe even especially) when you’re using a company credit card.

Make sure to sign up for frequent traveler accounts with all the hotel chains, airlines, and rental car companies you use regularly. Keep your email current and ask them to email you a copy of the invoice. I like to take a look at their hard copy before they email it, just to make sure the charges are accurate, but the final invoice needs to go to my business email. Frequent travel programs are also a good way to grab an invoice you didn’t get before. Because they track how often you stay (in order to reward you appropriately), they have a vested interest in making sure their records are accurate, and available to the customer online.

Also make sure you stay organized. When you or your admin are booking a trip, they should create an expense folder for that trip. As soon as the booking agency sends a confirmation (with details of your airline and booking fees), file that in the trip folder. Start out ahead of the game. If your admin isn’t organized, train him or her to do it properly to avoid headaches all around. Sometimes the expense report won’t go through properly, the attachments are lost, *stuff* happens. Being able to pull up an electronic copy of all your receipts is tremendously helpful.

This is particularly vital for small businesses and sole proprietorships. Come tax season you don’t want to be trawling through your old credit card bills to try to remember what you spent on business trips, and why… or how far you drove. If this is you, make sure to have an app that allows you to track mileage while you’re driving.


If you have a helpful tip or app you find invaluable, post a comment here to benefit your fellow travelers. Thank you for stopping by, and don’t forget to sign up for notifications! Ciao for now. Lindley.

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Reformed road warrior with side interests in human rights, fuzzy creatures, great food, and a healthier planet.

2 thoughts on “Expense Reporting from the Road

  1. Great article and right on point. I actually now start my expense reports while I am on the road and I would say that almost 90% of the time I submit them on the first day back into the home office after a trip. Can’t let it build up!

    1. Thanks Jeremy. I know staying on top of my expenses has kept me from forgetting what I spent where, making sure I get reimbursed for everything I spent on my business trips!

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