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How To Handle Money Matters When Planning a Group Trip

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It’s been a long two years, but now that COVID-19 restrictions have been relaxed or completely eliminated in most places, you’re ready to head out of town with family or friends. You’re not alone in wanting to get away either.

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In fact, 81% of people plan to take at least one vacation with family and friends in the next six months, according to Expedia Group’s Traveler Value Index 2022 Outlook. More than half, 54%, expect to spend more on trips than they did before the pandemic, with the average American planning to spend $2,353.

Whether you share the mindset of wanting to go all out on this vacation or not, it’s wise to make sure those traveling with you are on the same page. Here are some tips on how to do just that.

Make Your Money Work for You

Talk Budgets Up Front

Jodi RR Smith, president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, said it’s important to discuss how much you’re comfortable spending on accommodations before anything has been booked. “Even before you pick a destination, you must have a frank and honest conversation about everyone’s budgets for the vacation,” she said.

You may have an idea of what the vacation will look like — and cost — but your vision might not align with everyone in the group.

“Friends’ expectations for vacations can vary widely, based both on their budget and on their experiences growing up,” she said. “Some may love five-star hotels with room service, while others feel camping under the stars and cooking over a campfire is ideal.”

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In addition to the general budget, you should choose a planning coordinator for the group during the pre-emptive conversation, she said. “Before the planner books anything, an email should be sent with the estimated costs and everyone should agree in the affirmative,” she added.

Make Your Money Work for You

While it’s not uncommon for a planner to use their credit card to book expenses for everyone, Smith said this isn’t necessarily the best route.

“If possible, try to have everyone pay for their own portion instead of having the planner have to play banker as well,” she said. “If not, everyone should contribute upfront to the banker and then [have] full costs settled out at the end of the vacation.”

This can help you avoid a sticky situation post-vacation, if someone doesn’t repay the group planner in a timely manner — or tries to skip out on the bill entirely.

If you’ve seen the Netflix special “Inventing Anna” or read the book “My Friend Anna,” by Rachel Williams, you know this can actually happen in real life. While an extreme situation, fake heiress Anna Sorokin conned then-friend Williams into footing the bill for a more than $62,000 Moroccan getaway.

Make Your Money Work for You

Be Clear About Extra Costs

Chances are, your travel group won’t spend anywhere near that amount on your trip, but as Smith noted, different people have different expectations for a vacation.

For example, the average daily rate for U.S. hotel rooms was $124.67 in 2021, according to hotel data company STR. Additionally, the average price for an Airbnb in North America was $208 per night, according to AllTheRooms.

Depending on your expectations, this might sound affordable — especially if you’re splitting the cost with friends or family — but prices could easily run much higher. Traveling to an expensive destination or opting to stay in luxury accommodations will quickly drive your vacation tab up.

Ultimately, vacations are a time to deepen your bond with loved ones. Therefore, it’s important to follow Smith’s advice and have an open and honest money conversation at the very beginning of the planning stage.

This will ensure everyone can enjoy the trip, instead of spending their time away worrying about how they’ll pay for it. Of course, not all financial matters can be budgeted down to the penny ahead of time — like dinners out or impromptu excursions — but keeping the lines of communication open along the way will help ensure everyone is happy.

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