Mystery Shopping on Vacation

Dear WAHFAQ,

Our family is taking a vacation this summer, going to the East-Coast to check out all the historical sites and all…you mentioned in class that you can shop while you travel.  How does that work?

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Nokhoog Buchachon

Shopping on vacation can be a fun way to earn some money to defray the cost of travel!  Here are the basic things you need to keep in mind:

1) Who will you shop for?

Do the companies you currently work with have shops in the area that you’re going to?  If so, contact your scheduler, and let them know that you’ll be in a different area for a certain period of time, and see what they have for you.  On the sites that allow for self-scheduling, you can usually browse by zip code, and you can apply for shops that way.  If none of the companies you work for have shops in the area that you will be in, then you can find more companies through the message boards. Instead of looking for your usual area, just scan the listings for wherever it is that you’re going. And, don’t forget that The Mystery Shopper Training Program has a list of over 250 companies to choose from!

2) How will you deliver the shops?

Remember, most shops are now done through the Internet in some way, shape or form.  Do you have a laptop or tablet that you can take with you? Will you have enough data if you need to hotspot from your phone? Most cafes offer free access. Or, consider dropping into a local library to fill out your forms.

3) Should you inform your traveling companions?

It’s OK to tell people that you’re a mystery shopper, but remember there is a fine line for keeping those confidentially agreements.  Make sure you consult your scheduler to see if you can bring your family with you.  For shops like amusement parks, restaurants, movie theaters, etc…that shouldn’t be a problem.  And, should you choose to take bank or apartment shops, you can always pawn the kids off on your spouse for an hour or so to get the shop done.

4) What about tax deductions?

While I am not a tax professional, I do know that you can write off part of your trip as a tax deduction as long as you keep detailed records. How much of the trip really depends on your own specific circumstances, so consult your friendly tax advisor. Be sure to write down all of your mileage from point A to Z and everywhere in between, and keep receipts for everything. Take it all to your tax-man and let him sort it out. Yes, you can deduct things on your vacation, but what, and how much, is really up to Uncle Sam.

I hope this helps!  Good Luck and Happy Shopping!

Think about all the extra money you could make by being a mystery shopper, starting your own business, or working from home for a legitimate company. Take control of your income and check out our LEARN page for a list of classes, books, and more!

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