How to travel on a budget with friends (and not fight) 1

How to travel on a budget with friends (and not fight over who pays for what)

Aneth Ng-Lim

Posted at Apr 11 2022 02:14 PM

Budgets are tough enough to manage on your own so imagine the nightmare if you have to do it with friends who each have their own spending habits. 

Admittedly, some friends make it easy. In fact, there are friends who are quite generous in picking up the tab that we become too comfortable to the point that maybe we are already taking advantage.

But then there are those who make it a real challenge. Friends who do not offer to pay their share, or make many promises to pay but do not, or simply assume someone will cover their tab.

To manage those awkward money situations while on a trip with your bosom buddies, consider these tips so you can all have a good time, especially when planning a trip this summer as many destinations begin opening up for tourists.

#1 Pick a money app for everyone to use

Thanks to mobile wallets, you can now be paid back in seconds. Before your trip, make sure everyone has access to one mobile wallet or one online payment mode that will make it easier to split the bills as they come. If you have someone in your group with no mobile or online means to pay, offer to “handle” it for them. They can give you cash and you will track their spending during the course of the trip. I would suggest asking for cash upfront rather than later, so your own budget will not take the hit. It’s always harder to collect at the end of the trip so better to start on the right foot.

#2 Offer ‘group’ help when needed

They key word in this advice is ‘group’. One or two friends may not have enough cash to pay for the trip so your group should decide how to handle this. Maybe the other members can take turns as sponsor for meals per day? Or offer to share a room and split the cost with all other members? It’s important for your wallet that you do not take on this burden, unless your income is 2x or 3x compared to everyone else in the group. But even then, it’s good to give others the chance to help as well. It will also make it easier for that friend to accept the help, coming from the whole group instead of being indebted to just one or two persons.

#3 Agree on what will be ‘group’ expenses

Just because you are traveling together does not mean everyone has to split each bill. Before you take off, appoint one or two money managers in the group who will handle the plans including where you will stay, activities you will do together and where to have your meals. Group meals prepared where you will be staying will help bring down your total expenses. It should be okay to include food or grocery as group expenses and split that. The same goes for accommodations. But when it comes to activities, let the members have a say on what they like to do. It’s not fair to have everyone pay for bungee jumping when some are scared of heights and would prefer to sit that one out.

#4 Encourage members to pay for their own guilty pleasures

Some like to snack so they can pack for chips and bring that to enjoy and to share. Some have special diets so they may need to pack their own meals. Some enjoy drinking so they can bring their own bottle or two or more and not have all members split that bill, especially if you have friends who do not drink or just stick with one or two glasses. Remember, you are traveling together to enjoy each other’s company so the less stress on your wallets, and countless tallying of who should pay for what, the better for everyone to have fun. 

#5 Scout for group discounts

Family or group discounts can give you savings as much as 70% off if you know where to look. Plan for your trip as early as possible, and assign everyone to hunt for great deals. There are online offers and even offline offers from travel agents who want the business while COVID-19 cases are under control. If you have a credit card that will allow you to earn points plus cash rebates and an exclusive discount on a travel package, tell your friends about it and share the savings too. This will make it easier for others who have limited budgets to join in. 

The bottom line

Planning a vacation with friends is no easy task but it can be much easier when you manage awkward money situations ahead of the trip. There is one common thread among all the tips – and that’s being open about each other’s situation and expectations. When that is dealt with, you can all be ready to have fun in your getaway.


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Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.