It can be difficult to figure out how to split travel costs while on vacation. I realized my friends had more money to spend on restaurants and ride-Hailing services than I did when I returned from a girlfriends vacation. I was worried about what my final travel bill would look like, even though I didn't want to be the killjoy who insisted on skipping fancy French food in favor of cooking pasta in ourAirbnb.

Group trips can cause stress around how much the weekend or week will cost, but there can be many questions about who will pay for each meal, ride or accommodation. No one wants to pay more than they need to.

It doesn't help that your desire to see family and friends, especially after being shut-ins during the coronaviruses, may be at odds with the rising cost of food and travel.

How do you agree on how much to spend with your family and friends so that they enjoy their time away? There are seven ways to handle the finances on a group trip.

Discuss general trip costs before you book

Is it $500 per person or $5,000 per couple? Take the pulse of the group to find out how much they can spend.

It isn't an easy question. According to Sarah Foster, an analyst and economy reporter at Bankrate, topics about money are taboo. A lot of the challenges that people face when committing to travel or go places with their friends can be fixed with the idea of being comfortable talking about money.

If you are planning a trip and invite others, this is important. It's possible that your friends are coming from different financial situations. Give the group an estimate of what flights, accommodations, transportation, food and activities might cost and then allow the invited participants to push back or back out.

No one should be shamed for choosing not to go into debt for a vacation they can't afford. You don't want to make your friends feel like they have to choose between financial security and their relationship with you if they decide to stay home.

Be considerate of room and price disparity when booking accommodations


Unless you are booking identical hotel rooms in which everyone gets their own bed, you should agree with your group on a fair way of allocating and paying for accommodations.

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If you're single, you don't need your own space or your own bed. If everyone is paying the same amount of money, everyone should be given the same amount of space to sleep. People can pay more or less for larger rooms if the nightly lodging rates are divided evenly.

You should never assume anyone is ok with sleeping on a pullout sofa or sharing a bed with someone other than their spouse. Unless everyone agrees, don't charge them the same amount as the couple in the master bedroom.

If you want to keep everyone in close proximity, look for vacation destinations where you can offer a variety of accommodations and prices. On a cruise or at a resort, the family matriarch might book a large suite, possibly with extra space for gatherings, while the grandkids occupy an inside cabin or smaller hotel room that faces a garden.

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

People travel to try the best restaurants no matter what the cost is. Some people prefer to eat on the cheap and spend their money on experiences, such as tours or attraction entry fees. While you would prefer to take in a concert or theater performance, your friends might prefer to order craft cocktails at many bars. While your budget dictates only enjoying free or low cost activities, your parents may want to book every tour and enter every museum.

Differences in which vacation activities are valuable to you versus your travel companions can cause disagreements and hurt feelings when planning the day's activities. It makes some tripmates uncomfortable when they end up spending more than they planned.

It's important to have a discussion about how to spend your money while on vacation so you can figure out a compromise. Group members may take turns choosing the day's or evening's activities, or you may agree to split up at times according to interest and budget. The more budget-conscious travelers don't have to worry about the cost if wealthier grandparents or couples subsidize a pricier meal or activity. You won't know until you discuss it.

Remember the fine financial details

Your group may agree to split the bill, but that doesn't mean you've settled everything. Is it 15% or 25%? How do you account for bad exchange rates when you withdraw money from a foreign account? It may be necessary to ease the stress of travelers on a budget.

Check with your travel companions to see if they are price sensitive. Is $5 more here or there a deal-breaker, or is it okay to occasionally go over budget? It's a good idea to be clear about which expenses the individual will have to pay. You all agree on the answer.

Use technology to make splitting expenses easier

Everyone who has a travel rewards credit card knows how important it is to be the first one to pay for a group of people. The repayment process is often ignored.

When it is time to get married, splitting costs can become a nightmare. Your sister lost her receipts, your boyfriend's best friend wants you to cover his excessive beer buying, and there's always someone who will pay you back.

Who is responsible for what anyways? If people's meals cost vastly different amounts, you don't want to split it evenly.

Foster says it's important to be aware of how you split the bill on a trip. It isn't fair to make someone subsidize another person's drinks if they don't drink at all. Trips that are supposed to be fun are made more awkward by the fear of someone at the table paying more than they technically spent.

Technology can solve this problem. If you want to keep track of expenses and figure out who owes whom, choose any of the cost-splitting apps or calculator. Expenses can be entered in the moment, and you can determine who is responsible for splitting each payment if it isn't the entire group every time. The app will make payments simpler so you don't throw money at each other.

Take turns paying for group expenses


It's possible to split travel costs using low tech solutions. It is possible that one person pays for all dinners and the other pays for all transportation with ride-sharing services, so that the person who needs to get paid is less likely to misplace their receipts. If you want to benefit from the credit card rewards but don't mind paying a lot upfront, designate someone to pay for all the travel expenses. The rest have to pay at the end of the trip.

Each person can take turns paying for something in the hopes that everyone will spend the same amount. You won't have large or complicated repayments at the end of the trip if it's not exact Everyone can earn points on their credit card.

When all else fails, ask for separate checks

If you're concerned about splitting travel costs fairly, it's better for everyone to pay for themselves. Asking for separate checks at restaurants will allow travelers to buy their own tour tickets with cash or credit.

There is an option to allow multiple people to pay at the beginning. Everyone pays as they go instead of paying at the end of the trip, as is the case with the two companies.

Bottom line

If you don't plan ahead, you can end up with a lot of stress on your trip. You will get a lot of opinions on what the budget should be, what you should spend money on and how you will pay for it. The most important thing you can do to prevent arguments is to open the lines of communication and talk about your finances while you are on the trip.

Don't forget who you're talking to when you bring up finances. Foster says that family and friends wouldn't want you to put yourself in credit card debt. Everyone wants the best for you. Building up the courage to approach the conversation is all that is needed.

You can get on with enjoying the trip and spending time with your friends if you agree on how to split the costs.