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Recently I have had quite a few remote jobs. By remote jobs I mean clients want me to travel more than 100km from where I do my business.

Generally consists of flights or driving. Clients usually pay for flights and pay for petrol.

The issue I found with remote jobs is it usually consists of morning wake ups and extra travel time. Though it's all paid for its quite exhausting and is much easier to work at home and make the same amount with a few extra hours.

Is it ethical to charge for travel time even though expenses are covered or is there something else to consider?

EDIT: I work in I. T at an hourly basis

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Ethical? Of course it is. You already charge for your time. You can add this into a callout fee, or travel time as a separate line item on your invoice.

There is a however here... Your overall cost will increase, possibly affecting your ability to be competitive.

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Well it depends on what you have agreed before. I am sure the client mentioned travelling, but you overlooked at it and did not consider time you will "lose" travelling.

I would approach to a client honestly and openly telling him how you did not expect it will be so tiring and time consuming. Offer him some options like working from home X of 5 days or extra costs for time spent on travelling, etc.

I would go with an option to work from home X days from 5 and those days I am travelling to work and back would consider work time. For example, if I spend 3 hours travelling to work and back and work 8 hours, I would expect to be paid 11 hours. Simply because this is freelance work and the client is the one insisting to work in his premises.

If the nature of your work is to travel to remote locations (if you are some hardware expert or even backend expert), then I am not sure you will be able to charge extra.

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Depending on the situation/client, I generally will do one of the following:

1) Charge them normal rate for travel time, as it is consuming my time. This is the default method.

2) Charge them one rate for work done at your location, and a higher rate for time spent on-site, without charging for the travel.

3) Charge them a daily rate instead of by the hour when travel is required. The daily rate will be based around 8 hours of on-site work, plus an inconvenience fee.


As an example, let's say your normal rate for work is $75 per hour. I would charge people $125 an hour if I'm required to be on-site. This works if the travel doesn't consume my entire day, when clients are within a reasonable driving distance (let's say a commute time of an hour each direction).

If I'm required to fly somewhere, or travel a considerable distance which makes working for other clients difficult/impossible, then I'll charge them a daily rate. The daily rate will generally be something like $125 * 10, but they're free to consume my time for as many hours as they want for the day, but I also charge for travel days. I charge more than 8 hours because of the inconvenience for me. So let's say I'm living in New York, and my client is in Los Angeles, and they want to meet with me on a particular day (in person). The flight from NY to LA is about 5 hours, and so my travel will generally get booked as a flight from NY to LA, arriving in the evening and an overnight stay in a hotel. The second day will be a meeting a flight home. In this case, they pay my travel expenses, plus they have to pay my daily rate for 2 days. If they want me to do some preliminary work or have a dinner meeting with me on the day I arrive, there's no additional charges since they have already paid for the whole day.

This type of system is reasonably easy to explain. I don't give clients the option, I generally decide how I'm going to invoice them, but I will be up-front about it so they are not surprised.

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