Last week on ask a manager, someone asked about expensing asprin while on a business trip. They were insulted that the firm wanted to be repaid the $4 for the asprin.
All the organizations I've submitted expenses for (college and grad school research, work, travel under a grant) required a strict accounting for those expenses. And they all had a definite and short list of qualifying expenses. Over the counter medicine was out, unless you were stocking up for a large field job and you could justify a giant container of asprin as a health and safety item for the project.
It was interesting to read the comments on that post. Several people suggested that the mere fact that they were traveling meant that various items should be covered by the firm (dry cleaning, random inessentials like gum) since they were away from home. I had an oddly visceral reaction against this, and I think it's because I work so hard to be perceived as professional.
I travel for work. Because travel is an expected and necessary part of my job, I am prepared for it. Just like I had to buy whole separate outfits for office and fieldwork, at great aggravation and expense, I also bought a complete and separate set of toiletries, sunscreen, migraine meds, and other stuff that I know I'll need. Those things are dedicated to my travel bag so that I can just grab and go as needed.
If you travel for work, how much do you get away with (or try) for your expense reports? Am I just sucker for sticking only to the essentials?