What are reasonable travel expenses ?

One of the companies I work as an IC for lost another IC in an adjacent state. They asked me if I was willing to drive on a case by case basis and I agreed to as they came to me. I had one case where I drove 10 hours in one day and I was so exhausted, I told myself that was too much. I then found out through another IC, I could ask for a hotel. These cases are pretty infrequent - maybe 3 or 4 times a year. So the next time they asked me if I could drive 10 hours, I asked if I could get a hotel. They said, sure, as long as it's under $90 and I was reimbursed the next month, no problem.

There is now a new supervisor and she told me hotels are not guaranteed - it's a case by case decision. I told her I will not drive more than 8 hours in one day. She said fine, we will ask you before we assign a case to you. Well, last week they mailed me 2 cases that are both 10 hours from me. Then told me the hotel approval is $60. I think that is unreasonable. There is only one hotel that is near one of the cases and it starts at $75, no tax.

There is no way I am going to come out of pocket in any amount to pay for a hotel to do business for them. I know I could deduct it on my taxes, but that does not seem palatable to me. I even offered to do both cases either on the same day or over two days if they increased the hotel stay. It would save them about $250 in mileage reimbursement if I did that. They don't seem to understand that.

Is $60 reasonable for a hotel ? They don't even offer meal reimbursement. What is standard and what should I be asking for ?

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$60 is insanely low for a hotel. You'd be lucky to get a proper cardboard box for $60/night around here.

However, I look at things differently: I ask myself: Is the total compensation package (payment plus reimbursed expenses) worth it to me? With a drive like that, I am assuming that there is a significant payday for the job? I would also consider seeing if I could add a few more shops along the way (or during my stay) and turn it into a proper route. If the MSC is offering you premium pay (and mileage reimbursement), the visit must be fairly remote. There is a good chance other MSC's are going to be willing to give you a proper bonus in the area.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
No, the total compensation is not worth it. The pay for the job is $100. I then get reimbursed at the IRS rate for mileage.
So, I would look at the total compensation package as $60+$250+$100 = $410. Out of that I would need to spend: $100 (cheap hotel) + $50* (gas) + $100 (food/coffee) = $250.... So, I'm at a profit of $160 for two days of driving. However, I am only driving about four hours each day, so I have a lot of time. You are starting with a profit of $160 for a two day route - and only ONE shop. It's a really good anchor, if there is enough other work along the way. Remote locations are notorious for having very nice opportunities at gas stations, post offices, banks, and....

I would personally tell the MSC, "Maybe. I need to see if there is more work available to make this feasible for me." Then, I would reach out for my contacts and say the truth: You have been asked to make a visit to Timbuktu and need to find more work to make it feasible. Then, ask if they have any work in that general direction that they have had troubles getting picked up.

(*IRS mileage at 57.5 cents/mile is $250 at roughly 434 miles. At 30 mpg, this is 14.5 gallons x $3/gal = $43.50 in gas expenses)

@frodosdojo wrote:

No, the total compensation is not worth it. The pay for the job is $100. I then get reimbursed at the IRS rate for mileage.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/12/2020 01:01AM by MFJohnston.
My hotel budget is $125 per night. I don't get reimbursed hotels. I include it in my fee. If I were driving 10 hours for a single shop round trip then I figure out how much my time was worth, what my travel costs were, add it all together, and that's the fee I would charge. How that breaks down is 0% their business.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
I don't feel that $90 is even reasonable for a hotel. I would say $100 min. I also what simply calculate what you need cost wise including hotel and give them a total cost you are comfortable with.
Lets use your 10 hour example so for me would be $100 to $200 for the 10 hours of driving. add another $10 to $40 for work time on the job including report. Add the cost of gas and tolls plus a few buck for car wear and tear. Then finally add hotel and food costs if needed. A 10 hour day for one job would be nothing for me and I personally would not need a hotel. This is just how I calculate. Now there are other factors that may increase or decrease your cost such as weather, other jobs in the area, and how bad the msc needs the shop done.

Shopping Western NY, Northeast and Central PA, and parts of Ohio and West Virginia. Have car will travel anywhere if the monies right.
@frodosdojo wrote:

No, the total compensation is not worth it. The pay for the job is $100. I then get reimbursed at the IRS rate for mileage.
That's ridiculous. Offer them a flat fee (to include lodging) of $1/mile. That's reasonable.

“I am convinced that knowledge is power - to overcome the past, to change our own situations, to fight new obstacles, to make better decisions.” ~Ben Carson
I don't think any of this job is reasonable. I don't know where you are driving to, but there is no way I could get a decent place to stay for under $100. You could make more money doing Grub Hub.
In some areas, you can get clean, reasonable lodging for less than $100/night - especially during non-peak times. On a whim, I just looked up hotels in Omaha, NE on Expedia... You can get into the Holiday Inn Express for $68/night..... It's not particularly luxurious, but should be clean and have wi-fi service.... A shopper does not *need* a luxurious hotel for routes (they can really eat in to profits!!). I require: Clean, hot water, comfortable temperature, an "okay" bed, and fast high speed wi-fi (I upload a lot of video).

If the OP's destination has any chain hotels, there might even be a hotel shop available, which would offset lodging and allow him/her to pocket the allowance from first MSC, which further changes the equation. Heck, such a shop might even include a reimbursed meal or two. Etc.

So, I totally look at the offer as a potentially good anchor for a route. I certainly would not commit immediately, but I'd use it as an excuse to explore having a very profitable couple of days.

@shopper8 wrote:

I don't think any of this job is reasonable. I don't know where you are driving to, but there is no way I could get a decent place to stay for under $100. You could make more money doing Grub Hub.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
Depends on your market really. It's difficult to state what "reasonable travel expenses" are, as it'll depend on the area you're traveling through and staying in.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 30 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.
Right now, Best Western rewards is offering a Stay 2 nights, get 1 free deal. Many of their hotels are less than $100, and if you can get the MS company to pay for two of them, the freebie is added value for you.

“I am convinced that knowledge is power - to overcome the past, to change our own situations, to fight new obstacles, to make better decisions.” ~Ben Carson
Most of the travel is to small towns in Alabama. One of the towns has only one hotel which is $75, not including tax. I have stayed at a different city which was close to $80 and the place was sketchy. A family friend suggested looking for Best Westerns so the next time I went to one, it was around $90 and was okay. I'm not looking for luxury. I would just like a clean, safe location without crunchy carpet if possible !

There's no room to negotiate the mileage, unfortunately. I appreciate everyone's input and advice.
I live in Massachusetts near Boston, don't think they have any places to stay in this area, although you don't need to travel far here for a shop.
Just for information on what MS are willing to pay. I always include my hotel, gas, toll, and any other travel expenses in the bonus I ask and explain why I ask such an amount. For a total 13 hours round trip drive to Buffalo, upstate NY during cold weather but no snowstorm I got $500. Driving and taking a ferry for a day trip $400 that included the ferry cost. Flying for 2 days to the Caribbean in early December, I got from $500 up to $1400 which included $700 in airline fare and $120 for the hotel. Driving a route around TX for 2 days doing $10 shops, $600. Spending a day flying same day trip total 4 hours flying to a different city to do an end of the month $20 shop, $500 that included $250 for the flight. Spending one hour aimlessly wondering at a busy airport at 7 AM, $50. Same airport the following week, same shop, $90. Driving 3 hours round trip in NH, in the summer, $200.

These bonuses were paid the last 3 years. The highest I got for an easy job was $250 each route for the car rental shuttle 10 years ago that I just had to take the car shuttle and note how many people came in and out at each terminal stop.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/13/2020 07:32PM by KateH.
I think the **issue** here is the shopper is viewing this as a 'one and done' kind of shop instead of an 'anchor' shop.

The OP wants a profit for his/ her time/ gas to travel to said location, complete shop #1, sleep, complete shop #2, then drive home.
**most** seasoned route shoppers would view this as a base to add in additional shops on the way to the location, at the location in the evening and on the way home.

I personally would be THRILLED with the offer and would most likely add a second night there to complete other shops in the area that might have decent bonuses but the MSC's can't offer mileage/ hotel

Servimer Regional Manager- Nevada, Illinois, Wisconsin & Minnesota
@bgriffin wrote:

My hotel budget is $125 per night. I don't get reimbursed hotels. I include it in my fee. If I were driving 10 hours for a single shop round trip then I figure out how much my time was worth, what my travel costs were, add it all together, and that's the fee I would charge. How that breaks down is 0% their business.

Yeah, what bgriffin said.

I don't discuss my hotel choices with a client unless what's on offer is direct payment for it, not reimbursement. I choose where I stay and it's none of their business. I build the route out so it's profitable. I may well tell the MSC that I am asking $xxx because I know there will be a hotel night. But I don't break down the cost of the hotel for them unless they are comping the room and I don't have to handle or wait for the reimbursement on it. And even then, it has to be a room I will cheerfully stay in.

So if they want to believe they are holding the line on the hotel at $60, fine. But the fee for the shop just went up $35. $30 of that is the missing hotel reimbursement, and the other $5 is because they've now annoyed me.

At the end of the day it a matter of knowing how many dollars you want in your hand for doing what they ask. So you add up what it will cost you to do it - hotel, miles, gas, meals, whatever - and add what you want to make and that's the number you ask for. They say yes or they say no. if they say no, maybe you counter or maybe you tell them not this time. Then build on in by adding more stops as someone else said.
I agree 99 44/100 %, remembering the Ivory Soap commercial, with JustForFun. The only minor adjustment I employ is to set my minimum and NEVER negotiate. My bottom line is literal, as opposed to being figurative. I well understand, though, there are shoppers in need and not able to cast their required fees in stone. If I know that to be true, you can bet the house an MSC is also aware of that situation.
@shopperbob wrote:

I agree 99 44/100 %, remembering the Ivory Soap commercial, with JustForFun. The only minor adjustment I employ is to set my minimum and NEVER negotiate. My bottom line is literal, as opposed to being figurative. I well understand, though, there are shoppers in need and not able to cast their required fees in stone. If I know that to be true, you can bet the house an MSC is also aware of that situation.

I can't truthfully say that I NEVER counter. But 99.44% of the time I do not.
@JustForFun wrote:

@shopperbob wrote:

I agree 99 44/100 %, remembering the Ivory Soap commercial, with JustForFun. The only minor adjustment I employ is to set my minimum and NEVER negotiate. My bottom line is literal, as opposed to being figurative. I well understand, though, there are shoppers in need and not able to cast their required fees in stone. If I know that to be true, you can bet the house an MSC is also aware of that situation.

I can't truthfully say that I NEVER counter. But 99.44% of the time I do not.
I usually highball my offer from the start and many times I am happily surprised that it is accepted. I also try to stay my ground. If I ask for $300 and they come back with $80, I say no! Frequently they call again a few days later accepting the price. Or the supervisor of the account takes the charge and knows that he/she will lose the bonus if the targets are not hit, so the bonus is accepted. I always laugh with the source schedulers who state that Trendsource never gives bonus higher than $4 and then end in many many multiples of that.
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