You’ve just returned from vacation with your friends, sun-kissed and feeling chill. And then, the moment arrives to settle up on the group expenses. All chill is gone.
Because there are so many shared costs on a group trip — from the hotel bill to a day of drinks by the pool — it can be all too easy for some people to shirk their responsibilities while others get stuck picking up the slack.
To prevent a money blow-up from being what everyone remembers most from the trip, use these tips to help split the costs.
1. Get on the Same Page Before You Leave
Don’t wait until your vacation begins to talk about how you want to split costs — by that time, it could already be too late. Chat with your friends specifically about how you plan to handle shared bills before the plane takes off.
While you don’t need to get into the nitty-gritty of each person’s finances, discuss the options and agree on one that works for everyone — whether you split everything equally, use a looser trade-off system or opt for something in between. Then when it’s time to pay the taxi driver for the ride from the airport, you won’t all be sitting around wondering who’s going to make the first move.
2. Opt for Services That Make Bill-Splitting Easy
In a perfect vacation scenario, you’d be able to keep everyone’s costs separate and there’d be no issues. But there will always be some you can’t help but share, like transportation and accommodations.
To make things easier, some companies offer bill-splitting straight through their platforms, so no one person is stuck paying for everything up front and waiting for her friends to reimburse. Ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft let you invite people from your contacts list to split the cost. And Airbnb recently started allowing users to split a rental with up to 16 people directly through the site.
3. Download Helpful Apps
It’s 2018 and you no longer have to bust out a pen and paper to figure out pesky math problems when the dinner check comes. Let an app tell your friend she put in too little (again) to cover her share. Here are some useful ones:
- Splitwise: If your group is taking turns covering expenses (“you get this dinner; I’ll get the next”), track them with Splitwise. This app keeps a running total of who’s covered what, so you can settle the difference at the end via Venmo or PayPal.
- Billr: Perfect for large parties, this app lets you split a bill with up to 16 people so each person pays for what they ordered, plus their portion of any shared items, tax and tip. You can also send each person a copy of the split bill in a text or email.
- Divvy: Snap a photo of your bill and drag each item to the appropriate person (uploaded through your contacts) and Divvy will automatically add up what each person owes, plus tax and tip.
4. Always Bring Cash
You’re likely to need cash at some point along your trip, especially if you’re traveling abroad. Even if you’ve notified your bank or credit card company of where you’ll be, you may still run into issues, so it’s best to have the local currency on hand.
And if you’re staying local, it’s a good idea to have some cash for tipping the hotel staff or just being prepared when you come across a cash-only ice cream stand and you’re craving a scoop of mint chocolate chip. Don’t rely on your friends to spot you — and if you’re the one who winds up doing the spotting, use an app like Venmo to quickly send a reimbursement request.
5. Give the Benefit of the Doubt
Don’t forget: These are your friends, people you actually like! Assume any mistakes or miscommunications that come up around money are just that — mistakes. Politely point out the error — or just let it balance itself out down the road. Sometimes, a $3 difference isn’t worth getting into a back-and-forth. After all, you have more exciting things to focus on — you’re on vacation, after all.