How to split travel costs with friends and family

Figuring out how to split travel expenses when vacationing with friends and family can be a daunting task. Case in point: I just got back from my girlfriend’s vacation and quickly realized that my friend spends more money on restaurants and ride-hailing than I do. , I didn’t want to be the killer who insisted on skipping fancy French food, but I was definitely worried about what the final travel costs would be.

Group travel not only creates stress about weekend and week expenses, but can also raise many questions about who actually pays for meals, transportation, and lodging, and how others will reimburse. There is a nature. You don’t want to overspend, even if you earned Rewards points on your purchase.

Your desire to see family and friends, especially after being withdrawn during the coronavirus pandemic, may be at odds with rising food and travel costs that have outpaced annual salary increases.

How do you agree and split travel expenses with family and friends so that everyone can actually enjoy the vacation and go home as discussed? Here are some tips.

Discuss general travel costs before booking

Is this a $500 trip per person or a $5,000 trip per couple? Please judge

It’s not an easy question. Sarah Foster, analyst and economics writer for Bankrate (TPG’s sister site) said: “Many of the problems people face when traveling or going out with friends can be solved with the general idea that they can easily talk about money.”

This is especially important if you’re planning a trip and you’re inviting other people (like a bachelorette party or bachelorette party). Your friend may come from a very different financial situation. Communicate cost estimates for flights, accommodation, transportation, meals, and activities to the group and give invited participants the opportunity to object or decline.

And don’t be ashamed of those who choose not to go into debt for vacations they can’t afford.The fear of missing out if they choose to stay home is painful enough. You don’t want your friends to feel like they have to choose between financial security and your relationship.

Be aware of room and price disparities when booking accommodation

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Unless you book the same hotel room where everyone gets their own bed (or shares one), agree with the group on a fair method of allocating and paying for accommodations.

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“I absolutely hate it when people who book accommodation get smaller places under the assumption that if you’re single you don’t need your own space or your own bed. Everyone pays equally So everyone should get the same amount of sleeping space/room,” says Madison Blancaflor, senior editor at TPG. She recommends splitting the nightly room rate evenly. That way, people can pay more for larger rooms and less for smaller or shared rooms.

Still, don’t assume that everyone is fine sleeping on a pull-out couch or sharing a bed with someone you’re not married to without asking first. Even if they agree, don’t charge the same amount as the couple in the master bedroom.

Or look for vacation destinations that can offer groups a variety of accommodation styles and prices while keeping everyone in close proximity. You might book a large suite with extra space for your grandkids, but your grandchildren will occupy cabins or small hotel rooms that face the garden rather than the sea.

Don’t assume everyone wants to spend their vacation budget the same way

Some travel to try the best restaurants in their destination, regardless of cost. Others prefer to eat cheaply and spend their money on experiences such as tours and attraction admission fees. Maybe you prefer concerts and theater performances. Budget only enjoys free or low-cost activities.

These differences in what vacation activities are worthwhile for you and your travel companions can lead to disagreements and hurt feelings when planning the day’s activities. Spending money can make some tripmates uncomfortable.

To avoid creating difficult situations, have the necessary conversations before your trip about how you will spend your money on vacation so you can find a compromise. They may choose activities or agree to split occasionally according to their interests and budget. I may give it out. You won’t know until you talk to them.

Remember your financial details

Your group may agree to split the restaurant bill, but that doesn’t mean you’ve worked out all the important details. Are you leaving a 15% or 25% tip? And how do you account for the bad exchange rate when withdrawing money or credit card fees from foreign purchases? you may need.

Before agreeing to split costs, check in with your travel companions to see how price-sensitive they are. Will $5 more break the deal, or is it okay to go slightly over budget from time to time? Clarify what costs are shared and what individuals must bear. The only correct answer is the one you all agree on.

Use technology to help divide expenses

“Anyone who has a Travel Rewards credit card, or accumulates Rewards points, knows how important it is to pay for your group by billing your credit card first. “What is often overlooked is the repayment process,” says Foster.

Split costs can be a nightmare when settling down. Whether it’s your sister losing a receipt, or your boyfriend’s best friend asking you to cover for buying too many beers, there’s always someone you have to track down for months to actually pay it off.

Moreover, who owes what anyway? If people’s meal prices vary widely, there’s no need to split the bill evenly.

“It’s important to be aware of how you split bills on your trip and make sure no one is overpaying,” says Foster. If someone has a few drinks at dinner and someone else doesn’t drink at all, it’s not fair to let that person subsidize a friend’s cocktail. Because you’re afraid someone has more money on the table than you actually spent, and you’re afraid to bring it up.”

But this is a problem that technology can solve. Choose one of the many expense splitting apps or calculators like Splitwise to track your expenses and know who owes what to whom. You can enter expenses on the spot. Some even allow you to submit a photo of the receipt itself. You can also decide who is responsible for splitting individual payments, if not the whole group each time. The app does the math and streamlines payments so everyone isn’t throwing money at each other at the same time.

take turns paying for the group

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A low-tech solution to splitting travel expenses can also work. Perhaps one person pays for all dinners and another pays for all transportation with a ride-hailing service, so it’s more clear who needs to get paid and less likely to lose receipts. If one traveler wants to benefit from all of these credit card benefits, and you don’t mind paying a large amount up front, you can designate that person to pay all expenses for the group travel. please. That way you only have to pay one of hers at the end of the trip for the rest.

Alternatively, each person can take turns making payments, hoping that everyone will spend the same amount. Even if it’s not accurate, you won’t end up with a very large or complicated repayment at the end of your trip. Also, everyone has the chance to earn points or miles with their credit card.

If all else fails, ask for a separate check

It’s easier for one person to pay for restaurants and trains entirely, but if you’re concerned about splitting transportation costs fairly, it might be better for everyone to pay for themselves. Request individual checks at restaurants and ensure that each traveler purchases their own tour ticket with cash or credit as they see fit.

Look for apps and travel providers that have options that allow multiple people to pay from the start. Both Uber and Airbnb can split costs from the start, so everyone pays as they go instead of paying at the end.


Splitting vacation costs can be a stressful part of traveling if you don’t plan ahead. When multiple people are involved, there are just as many opinions about what the budget should be, what to splurge on, and how to pay for each expense. The most important thing you can do to prevent arguments and financial insecurities is to communicate and discuss all financial matters during the planning stage and during your trip.

Bringing up money can be awkward, but remember who you’re talking to. “Your family, friends, everyone cares about you and doesn’t want you in credit card debt,” says Foster. “Everyone in the group wants the best for you. Just be brave and enter the conversation.”

Once you’ve agreed on how to split your vacation expenses, you can get down to what matters most: enjoying the trip and spending time together as a group.

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