If you’re travelling in a group, money can become a big issue. The best way to avoid falling out over your Vietnamese dong or Malaysian ringgits is to have a plan and to communicate throughout the trip.
Also, you need to stick to said agreed financial plan, or someone in the group will get upset, guaranteed.
Here are our group money management tips for travelling, so you can enjoy the trip, rather than worrying about the amount of Guatemalan quetzals in your wallet, or your mates'.
1. Agree on a budget
You’ve probably all got a different budget in total, but it can help to agree on a rough budget per day. That way each of you knows what you can and can’t do as you travel. It’s not fair of the person on the tight budget to expect everyone to hold back, but at the same time, Moneybags of the group shouldn’t pressure them to keep up either.
Having a rough budget you’re going to spend every day will help everyone plan where they can spend their money.
2. Respect the decided budget
Stick to the budget once you’ve agreed on it. If a friend decides they need to pull out of an activity don’t give them grief for it, understand that they just don’t have the cash.
They can work to their budget and you work to yours.
Don’t cause tensions in the group by drawing attention to your friend, or get all offended if they do it to you. Chill.
3. Write down the IOUs
You might not care about what equates to a few quid here and there, but chances are there’ll be someone in your group who will. You need to respect that. An unpaid IOU could be a night’s accommodation in somewhere like Thailand.
If you keep a written track of what everyone owes each other then it will keep everything fair. There’s always someone in a group who feels like they’ve paid out more – a manual or electronic record will help you all keep up to date.
I’ve used the Splitwise app before in group situations. You can create different groups and use different currencies so that the money all works out in the end, and you can pay electronically.
4. Have a buffer
I know from experience that when you travel in a group you’re tempted to drink, eat and party more at a mere suggestion. This way of travelling can easily escalate and become pretty pricey.
I can guarantee these will be your best times travelling. Save up a bit of a financial buffer so you can say yes to random nights out, activities and fun ways to spend the budget.
5. Don’t be stingy
If you’re super tight about everything you’ll ruin the experience for everyone, including yourself. Nothing spoils a nice drink or lunch more than a moaner. Bow out of things graciously if you can’t afford them, or pick the cheapest thing off the menu, say you’re paying for yourself rather than splitting and don’t make a big deal out of it.
6. Stay as a group to save money
You can save money on all kinds of things as a group, from transport to activities to accommodation. Look out for opportunities for group travel discounts and make the most of them. A little compromise from everyone here and there (like sleeping on sofa beds in rented apartments) can save a lot.
Also, when it comes to tours and activities, barter them down using the old 3-for-2 deals seeing as there are a few of you. How could they say no?
The best way to fall out with people in any situation is to not communicate. If you’re worried about spending, or about your friends spending, then just say something.
It would be awful if one of you tried to keep up with your richer friends and then spent all the money so just had to go home.
As a group decide on how far you’ll go to save money. For example, sleeping in airports, on transport, in cars. That way everyone knows what they’re letting themselves in for. And if that changes, tell the group in a suitable way.
Remember that a few Thai bhat here and there is not worth losing your friendship over. Don’t let money ruin your trip!