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My situation is similar as most of my gigs are out of town. If you’re in the US, the max mileage rating for Gov. travel is $.50+ per mile. Most outfits will low-ball you around $.30+ per mile. Mileage adds up quickly so if it’s a gig in your town or within the immediate area, you may want to give your client a ‘mileage’ waiver and let them know you did in your invoice.
When you pick up gigs off sites like Craig’s List, all too often they are in the $150-300 flat-rate range. That’s great for the person doing the hiring, no so much for the person applying for the gig. Particularly, if you have to travel or stay overnight. You also get types who don’t want to feed you on the job or at least reimburse your lunch/dinner. I do my best to avoid gigs like that, however sometimes you gotta’ do what you gotta’ do….
Best way to get info on what to base your mileage and travel costs on is to go to the US General Services Administration’s page for that, per diem and lodging rates by location.