Dealing with money issues when planning a group trip

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

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

Whether or not you share the attitude of wanting to give it your all on this holiday, it’s wise to make sure your fellow travelers are on the same page. Here are some tips on how to do just that.

Discuss budgets in advance

Jodi RR Smith, President of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, said it’s important to discuss how much you want to spend on accommodation before booking anything. “Even before you decide on a travel destination, you need to have an open and honest conversation about everyone’s vacation budget,” she said.

You may have an idea of ​​what the holiday will be like and what it will cost, but your vision may not agree with everyone in the group.

“Friends’ vacation expectations can be very different, depending on both their budget and their experiences growing up,” she said. “Some like five-star hotels with room service, while others find camping under the stars and cooking over a campfire to be ideal.”

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Hire someone to collect cash

In addition to the general budget, you should choose a planning coordinator for the group during the preliminary meeting, she said.
“Before the planner books anything, an email should be sent with the estimated cost and everyone should agree,” she added.

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

“If possible, try to have everyone pay for their own part rather than the planner also having to play banker,” she said. “If not, everyone should contribute to the banker in advance and then [have] Full statement of expenses at the end of the holiday.”

This can help you avoid a tricky post-holiday situation when someone doesn’t pay the group planner back on time — or tries to skip the bill altogether.

If you’ve watched the Netflix special Inventing Anna or read Rachel Williams’ book My Friend Anna, you know this can actually happen in real life. In an extreme situation, fake heiress Anna Sorokin tricked then-girlfriend Williams into footing the bill for a more than $62,000 getaway to Morocco.

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Be aware of additional costs

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

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

Depending on your expectations, this might sound affordable – especially if you’re sharing the cost with friends or family – but the prices could easily be a lot higher. Traveling to an expensive destination or opting for luxury accommodation will quickly add to your vacation bill.

Ultimately, holidays are a time to deepen your bond with loved ones. So it’s important to take Smith’s advice and have an open and honest conversation about money right at the start of the planning phase.

This ensures that everyone can enjoy the trip instead of spending their time worrying about how they will pay for it. Of course, not all financial matters can be budgeted down to the dime in advance — like dinners or impromptu trips — but keeping communication open in between will help keep everyone happy.

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