• Joe

Accounting for your travel planning business

There are two types of self employed business owners; those that keep track of their income and expenses meticulously, and those that hand a huge wad of receipts to a bookkeeper and hope for the best. I suggest you be the former.

There are essentially just a few small business accounting software programs worth mentioning. Here's a link with a more robust pros and cons list. I'm going to recommend just three to check out; Quickbooks Online, Freshbooks and Wave.

No matter which one you choose, it's imperative to use your business bank card or credit card for your transactions, and categorize everything you spend. That information is not just the key to understanding your business, it also could be important to selling your business one day.

Quickbooks Online

The industry standard is Quickbooks, which is what I use, and every accountant in the country knows how to operate. That's the main pro. It's also the most robust, and can be used for a company much larger than you are intending to be right now. Thusly, the main con is that it is the most complicated. Over the years Intuit (the maker of QB) has done wonders to simplify the interface, but if you're not financially inclined it can be daunting.

I've been using Quickbooks for 20 years on a daily basis, and I always feel like I'm using it at 25% capacity. Your accountant will be able to remotely log in and view your books. Although, this is true of all these services. With Quickbooks you can estimate, bill, receive and make reports till your eyes glaze over.

Quickbooks also offers a payroll service which we utilize at the agency as well. There are many payroll providers, many even a touch cheaper than Quickbook's, but it seemed like a no-brainer to just keep it all within the same ecosystem.

I recommend Simple Start or Essentials. Monthly price ranges are from $25-$40 after the discount wears off.


Freshbooks looks exactly like Quickbooks to me, but slightly cooler. It's interface is cleaner, and it's very robust. Potentially, it's not as robust as Quickbooks, but it offers all the capability you'll need i.e. estimates, billing, payments and even creative proposals. Although, I am almost positive you will use a different service that's pertinent to the travel field like Traveljoy or Travefy for proposals. I do not see a payroll service attached with Freshbooks. So, you'd need to integrate it with a third party service and potentially manually input it.

I recommend Plus with prices around $25 per month after coupons expire. The lower tier only "lite" allows for only 10 billable clients, so that's a no-go.


The cool new kid on the block. Wave is free for everything except its payroll service. Even the payroll service is cheap. It's interface looks lovely, and honestly if I wasn't so heavily bogged down in the Quickbooks universe, I would give this a go. There's even a link on the site to Wave tax preparers who are familiar with the software. It's credit card processing fees are not terrible, although it does charge 1% for debit cards/bank transfers. A lot of your clients may pay via debit card or bank ACH, and Quickbooks only charges a $.50 cent transaction fee for debits. Wave is 1%. But when you figure you're not paying anything for the software, I bet you make out.

I recommend giving it a try, and doing the full service payroll (which does work in Florida).