I wouldn’t think of it! There are lots of ways to incorporate work and play into your life and what better time to think about it than now, when the weather has turned nice here in the northern hemisphere? So, in honor of the nice weather, today our Business Channel bloggers are offering their thoughts on incorporating work and play into your life.

First up, is it time for a break? What are the signs that you’re working too hard? Jonathan weighs in on the signs in his post, Are You Working Smart or Dangerously Hard? over at Leadership Turn.

In a rut? Finding it hard to get your groove on? Maybe you need to consider altering your routine. Steve at StartUp Spark offers some insight on the importance of finding your morning routine at What Is Your Morning Routine?

Or maybe you’ve just forgotten how to enjoy your job… Mary Emma Allen, at Home Biz Notes, suggests we Enjoy the Journey of Your Home Business and relates how she discovered this.

Similarly, Maricel of Property Crossroads discusses the idea that Real Estate is one of the few businesses that allows you to work and have plenty of time to play.

Sean at FranchisePick reminds us that sometimes it can be all fun and games. He encourages us to think outside the box when marketing, even sometimes while poking fun at yourself a la Denny Crane in It’s Fun Being Me: The Marketing Secrets of Denny Crane – one of the most clever marketing articles I’ve read in a while!

Scott at LinkedIntelligence offers 5 Ways to Have Fun with LinkedIn in your personal life (who knew?). I totally agree about using LinkedIn as a way to reconnect with old friends and school chums!

Kevin also chimes in about the value of social networking sites – how to work and play online – at Buzz Networker.

And clearly, I’m not the only one intrigued by Second Life (though I still haven’t figured it out). Des offers some interesting commentary about Virtual Worlds and Business: Play or Work? on Business and Blogging.

And don’t feel left out simply because you’re not in the job market. Darlene offers some positive tips over at Tough Questions? Great Answers about finding employment in Unemployed? Congratulations! You’re Hired.

Rico at Contract Worker reminds us that work makes it possible to play. His post What You Should Know About Work and Play offers some valuable info about working – and playing – within your means and the importance of developing a long-term work/play strategy.

And don’t forget that geeks just want to have fun! Tris at Pimp Your Work doesn’t want tech geeks getting bored – and offers an insightful lesson about problem-solving in Getting More Out of Work With Play.

Maybe it’s just time to take a break. It could be a mini-break or an actual vacation. Kris offers some Techniques to Help You Blend Work and Play over at Workboxers. His tips allow you to sneak in some quality playtime and still remain efficient at work.

And, of course, when it comes to tax, you can absolutely mix work and play. You can take a working vacation and make it count at tax time, so long as you follow certain rules and keep pretty decent receipts.

Deductible business expenses for business trips and the infamous business conventions pretty much involve the use of common sense. Expenses that are clearly personal or involve lavish travel will not be deductible. For tax purposes, deductible travel expenses are defined as “the ordinary and necessary expenses of traveling away from home for your business, profession, or job.” That’s right – ordinary and necessary.

Such expenses can include convention and registration fees, hotels, meals, and entertainment, as well as travel expenses – to the extent that the expenses are reasonable and are not reimbursed or paid by your employer. Obviously, if you’re being reimbursed by your employer for any expense, that’s a wash and would not be an includible deduction. No double dipping!

So what qualifies? Again, the purpose of your trip needs to be about business. Yeah, it sounds like it would be so obvious you need not mention it but I’ve had clients that do things like try to justify expensing a Disney cruise for the family as a business – and the client’s primary business was selling cars. The trip or convention must specifically relate to your business or profession. And that cruise? The IRS won’t allow you to deduct expenses for business trips to resorts or cruises (oh yeah, they’ve thought about this) when the business use is clearly incidental.

However, if you travel to your destination by ocean liner, cruise ship, or other form of “luxury water transportation” for business purposes, there are deductions available but there is a daily limit on the amount you can deduct, and such trips require special statements to be attached to your tax return. For more information on cruise travel and applicable limits, refer to IRS Publication 463.

If you’re traveling by car, train, bus or airplane (more likely), your transportation expenses will be deductible if the trip is primarily for business. An example of a business purpose would be a convention, seminar or client meeting. Annual meetings for shareholders don’t qualify – they’re considered personal trips.

If the trip is primarily for pleasure, none of the transportation expenses will be deductible. You’ll have to pro-rate your applicable expenses or otherwise itemize what expenses were directly allocable to your business purpose.

The IRS has some rules of thumb that they like to use to determine whether a trip qualifies as business or personal. When traveling abroad, they look at the length of time that you’re away – anything over a week requires additional documentation to prove a business purpose.

The easiest way to prove a business purpose is to keep track of your expenses and your time. I often encourage clients to jot down the purpose of the meal, etc., on the back of the receipt so that you don’t find yourself scratching your head later, trying to remember why you were at Bahama Mama’s… Hold onto convention brochures and note which sessions you attend. Confirm client meetings before you travel, having something in writing is a nice addition to your records.

But remember, even if it qualifies as a business deduction, there are limits on your deductions. For example, the deduction for business meals and entertainment is generally limited to 50% of the unreimbursed cost.

If you’re driving, keep track of your mileage related to business as well as tolls, parking, and other expenses. If you’re traveling by bus, train or airplane, keep your ticket as well as records of any related expenses like tips, Red Caps, etc. Again, a little journal to jot these things down in comes in handy (my husband, who is more of a technophile than I, records everything in his Blackberry).

I know, I know. So many rules! Let me sum it up for you:

  • It’s okay to have fun while traveling for business – and deduct the cost of the trip.
  • Use common sense.
  • Don’t be piggy – remember the necessary and ordinary rule.
  • Use common sense (noticing a theme here?).
  • Keep good records of your time and expenses.

So, this spring or summer, take a little time to see what kind of planning you can do to maximize combining your work and play. As for me? In July, I’m going to BlogHer in Chicago! I’m talking about tax at the conference (yep, that means it’s a business trip) and I’m taking the family. And yeah, I’m keeping my receipts.

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Kelly Phillips Erb is a tax attorney, tax writer, and podcaster.


  1. Gah, I’m thinking of just hiring an accountant! Tax laws can be so confusing, wherever you are. 😆

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