When you’re working hard, nothing sounds better than a nice vacation. Taking a break from the grind is great for your mind and body. Your getaway fun can easily be doubled if you’re traveling with some good friends.
As the friendly vacation conversations swirl around sunshine, adventure and relaxation, the very next thought that pops up is money. Determining the cost of a trip and how it’s going to be funded takes the vacation from a dream to reality.
Knowing that the topic of money may be a difficult one to broach with our buddies, we want to prepare and proceed with caution. The last thing we want is to have our dream vacation turn into an endless fight about money.
Here are some finance tips and tricks to consider when planning a vacation with friends.
Plan In Advance
Like most everything else in life, planning a vacation is a lot easier when you start early. In a lot of cases you’ll be able to get better deals and have more options if you start months ahead instead of weeks ahead.
Some questions you could ask your group of buddies include:
- What time of year is best for everyone?
- How many vacation days are we thinking?
- Is this a vacation centered around relaxation or adventure?
- Should we stay in a hotel or a vacation rental like Airbnb?
- How much do we want to spend?
This line of questioning can definitely help you determine where your vacation plans are headed. By nailing down timing, location and budget, your travel plans start to take root.
Do Your Research
In every group of friends there tends to be a planner. Decide who’s going to take the lead on researching vacation options. Once that’s determined, that person can look into vacation deals to save the group money.
If you’d prefer, you could ask everyone to do some research and come back with one destination plan to share with the group. That way you’re involving everyone and they can all put their two cents in. Once all these ideas are shared, it can go to a vote.
If for some reason there’s not a lot of consensus on timing, location and budget from the get-go, this may be a sign of things to come. Your vacation could end up being a four-figure investment so you want to make sure you’re not throwing down major dough for a week of heartache.
Share The Vacation Costs
A vacation package has been determined. The question now is: Who’s in?
Send out an email to your friend group stating all of the details including location, dates and budget. You’ll want to provide your friends with links to the hotel or vacation rental so they know what their accommodations look like.
When the final financial details are shared, this is where the true vacationers stand out. If someone backs out because they’d rather do a spring break staycation instead of a budget-busting vacation, no worries. It’s better to know now than when they’re complaining about their credit card debt later.
Perhaps you and your friends have travel rewards points to save on the overall costs of your trip. Take advantage of this digital currency to make your vacation cheaper for everyone.
Someone in the group might also have loads of airline miles. Maybe they can pick up a few free flights for the group while others contribute by picking up an equivalent amount in hotel costs. This way everyone in the group benefits and saves.
Have Your Friends Pay Separately (If Possible)
The less money you have to pay up front on your friend’s behalf, the better. This can help avoid awkward conversations that begin like, “Hey, remember that vacation we went on last year? You still owe me $500.”
By providing the flight date and times as well as your chosen hotel, your friends can book on their own. This keeps you from playing the role of “bank” or worse – “collections agent.”
If there are certain parts of the vacation you can’t book separately, take advantage of mobile payment options like Venmo or Zelle. For example, you can let your friends know you’re happy to hold the Airbnb reservation on your credit card if they can send you their portion of the deposit in advance.
Communicate The Financials Throughout The Process
Since money can be a touchy subject, be sure to share any changes about the financial plans as they arise. It’s important to make sure everyone’s on board before proceeding.
Perhaps your Airbnb gets cancelled for some reason as you get closer to your travel day. Quickly research another option and share it with the group so everyone can approve the new booking.
If there are changes to excursions or plans that involve pooling together everyone’s money, prompt communication is crucial to keeping the peace and harmony of the trip. If someone thought they were signing up for a $100 experience but the price comes to $200, they might not be happy with that.
Discuss Your Food Plans
Wherever you decide to travel, you’re bound to eat meals with your friends. Before your first vacation day, decide how you want to handle food by asking your friends these questions:
- Will we split the check at each meal?
- Will we buy our own food and cook it ourselves?
- Will one person pay while everyone else sends their portion through an app like Venmo?
While we’re not trained to have conversations like these with our friends, it can eliminate a lot of vacation stress if it’s discussed in advance. Your restaurant servers will also appreciate your preplanned approach when they come up to your table of 10 and ask, “How are we paying today – separate checks or one?”
A little preparation and planning can go a long way when it comes to planning vacations with friends. In the end, your diligence can not only save you money but it could potentially save your friendship.
Everyone’s money situation is different. Be sure to speak with a financial professional about yours before making any big decisions.
Have you planned a trip with friends before? Please let us know how it went in the comments below.
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