As a business traveller, claiming back your expenses can sometimes be a headache. You may have to wait a while to see the cash appear back in your account, or you may feel slightly guilty about that expensive dinner you enjoyed. However, some business travel expenses really take the biscuit.

Expense management software firm Certify has put together a list of the strangest business expenses it has dealt with over the past five years – and it makes for fascinating reading. Some of these were approved, while others were seen as simply too lavish or too ludicrous for the business in question to cover.

Towards the top of the list is a massive claim for a helicopter ride to a business meeting. The claim was for around £5,000 and, rather unsurprisingly, it was not approved. Another rather questionable expense was for a cost of a Rolex watch, purchased for ‘customer appreciation’. This claim was approved by the business  – must be nice being one of their customers!

While some of the expense claims on the list are lavish, others suggest a rather irresponsible approach to business travel. One claim involved the repair of a hotel room wall after the employee punched a hole in it. To make matters worse, he also then expensed the cost of rebooking his airfare as he was in jail when his original flight was scheduled.

Another irresponsible employee successfully expensed the cost of towing his vehicle after he illegally parked.

So what can you expense as a business traveller?

Each business will have its own clear guidelines on what is expensable while on a business trip. However, here’s a quick list of some of the items that are usually expensable:


  • Any food and drink consumed up to a reasonable limit
  • Accommodation
  • Travel and transport costs (trains, cabs, flights, car hire etc.)
  • Costs involved with entertaining clients
  • Calls and wifi costs etc.

Basically, if you are having to purchase items when travelling for work that you not have needed to buy at home, you will usually be able to expense them. As a business traveller, you will not be expected to be out of pocket as a result of your business trip.

You must keep all your receipts for any business travel expenses to ensure you can prove how much each item cost and when and where the money was spent. You will also usually be required to make the expense claim within a certain period of time following the trip, so don’t sit on those receipts for too long! If you have a business credit card, which you can use for any business expenses you incur during your work trip, the whole process of business expenses is made much simpler.

If you decide to enjoy some extra leisure activities that are not related to your work, you will usually have to cover the costs yourself.