Writing off flight expenses when traveling anyways?

If I am traveling for personal reasons but complete a shop in the airport at my destination, am I able to file the flight expenses as a business expense during tax time?

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Absolutely not. Same as if you're driving to visit relatives and you pick up a gas shop along the way. The IRS looks at the PRIMARY purpose of the trip.

"Let me offer you my definition of social justice: I keep what I earn and you keep what you earn. Do you disagree? Well then tell me how much of what I earn belongs to you - and why?” ~Walter Williams
If you present $500 on a ticket and did $1000 of shops at the destination, you could reasonably IMHO make a case that the reason for the trip was mystery shopping and that visiting a friend was secondary. A $500 ticket and a $20 mystery shop is not a situation where I would personally try to claim the $500 as a business expense.

Shopping Southeast Pennsylvania, Delaware above the canal, and southwestern NJ since 2008
A more typical situation where claiming the travel expenses while shopping would be as follows:

I drive 225 miles, paying a lot of tolls to a relative's home. Along the way I do a $40 shop. While visiting there I drive an additional 50 miles to take several local shops. But, any other mileage while there is "personal." I drive home, doing a couple of $20 shops along the way. Fuel and tolls = $60. Shop fees = $200. I do not deduct anything for taking my relative out for dinner (not a shop) because they saved me paying for a hotel.

Now let's suppose that I made the same trip to get a chance to tour NYC. My 2 hotel nights and meals while there cost $600.00. I performed the same shops for fees of $200. So, I have $660 in expenses for $200 in fees. While it is not unreasonable to lose money on some routes, out of an abundance of caution I will report only $300 in expenses for that trip. The IRS is NOT looking for any trip that lost money; they ARE looking to see if, over the reporting YEAR you consistently had a goal of making a profit BY YEAR'S END.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

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