I’m getting ready for a big trip with a regular traveling buddy. We’ve traveled together a lot and have spent weeks sharing very small spaces. Just as it’s very important to learn to share physical space with travel buddies, it’s also important to learn to share financial space. A squabble about money can ruin a trip very quickly. You need to have the money talk.
Discuss Finances Before Committing
Before committing to a trip, talk about finances with your traveling buddies. If you’re on different pages financially, you will not travel well together, even if you are the best of friends.
For example, if you won’t spend more than the equivalent of $150 on a hotel room and your travel buddy thinks anything less than $150 will be infested with fleas, things won’t end well.
Know what each of you is willing to spend money on and how much is too much. If one of you is expecting to go out for fine dining every night and the other is happy eating only at fast food joints, you will begin to resent each other.
Track Big Spending
As we’ve planned this trip, each of us has paid for certain things like hotel rooms, tour reservations, transportation deposits, etc. I’ve kept track of this spending and as one of us started getting ahead of the other as far as shelling out cash, the other one paid the next deposit.
As of now, we’re within about $50 of each other, which is fairly impressive with all of the planning going on. If it’s not close to $0 before the trip, it will organically balance out pretty quickly.
While I’m traveling, I will use an app like Evernote to write down and keep track of bigger spending between us to make sure things stay pretty close to even.
I remember one trip where three of us were traveling together in South America. Two of us were Americans and the other was Australian. We were traveling in several counties each with different currencies. We had an elaborate spreadsheet going that detailed how much each person paid and in what currency. The person keeping track would periodically tell us which one of us needed to catch up and pay more to balance things out. At the end of the trip, I think we were within about $10 USD of each other. I was amazed.
But Don’t Track Every Little Thing
Tracking bigger stuff is good, but tracking every little thing can get really annoying really fast.
If you’re constantly quibbling about who bought the last bottle of water for the hotel room, things will get very uncomfortable in that small hotel room or cruise cabin.
Keep mental notes and if your buddy has paid for a few things at the store or for a meal, grab the check next time.
In the end, will you really remember who spent what? No. You’ll remember the great time you had with your travel buddies. You’re spending your time and money on your adventure, do you really want to ruin it over $50?
How to you keep track of who spends what?