I talked barbecue budget last week and this week I’m on to a group trip budget. Am I money obsessed or what? Nah. These have both been planned for a while, but you know, I’m a procrastinator. So first of all, you might think this is a more appropriate topic for a travel blogger. I disagree. Travel bloggers already know how to get all kinds of deals on their travel, and they’re not usually doing it in groups. Regular folks like me who enjoy meeting up with friends in fun locations know the truth. When planning a group trip, especially the group trip budget, someone has to take the reins. That, my friends, is a job for a hostess – even a frenzied one,
I made up a little questionnaire that I’ll attach, much like I did for my guide to maid of honor budgeting, but let’s talk about a few things first. People are weird about money. Sooo weird. I’m not sure why we’ve made society this way, but in general, people don’t go around discussing their pay, and they certainly don’t discuss all their debts. So, even though you probably have a good idea of what your friends make (you know their occupation, their general cost of living, etc., even if it never comes up), you likely don’t know how much they actually get to keep. This makes budgeting for a whole bunch of people a hassle beyond belief. Hopefully my own experiences can help you keep the peace and keep it simple!
Guide to Group Trip Budgets
Get a number.
I’m serious. Get a firm number from those wily friends of yours, even the ones that refuse to be pinned down. You don’t have to stick to that number, but if you’re the one in charge, there is nothing more frustrating than having people say, “Oh, it doesn’t matter, quality is more important than cost.” You know why it’s frustrating? Because unless you’re millionaires, which I assume you’re not if you’re reading this, cost is important. Don’t want to ask the whole group for a number? That’s fine. Do a quick search for one budget friendly vacay, one middle of the road, and one fancy. Send all three to your friends and see where they land. When they give you their choice, you can do better research in the chosen price range and not feel like you’re wasting your time.
Decide if equality is important.
Obviously equality is important in general, but you know what I mean. When you’re planning a group trip budget, there’s a few ways to break down your costs if you’re all leaving from one place – but there’s tons if you’re coming from different locations. Should you all stay in one HomeAway place but have the people who flew in pay less than the people who drove? Should you have people who stayed only one night pay less, or friends who shared a room get a discount? Or, heaven forbid, should your high roller of the group be allowed to pitch in extra to get the glamorous digs they can afford? I’ll dive deeper on this for the questionnaire, but keep it in the back of your mind.
Determine how you’ll get paid.
There are two types of people in this world: those that Venmo was created for and those that say, “You get the next one.” It doesn’t really matter which type you are, but you need to make sure you’re all on the same page. Since you’re the one doing all the work, there’s a good chance you’ll also be the one footing the bill. First, make sure you can afford your trip by yourself if necessary. Yes, the whole thing. If not, you need to get everyone else’s shares up front. If you’re wondering why only one person would pay for everything, house rentals won’t take fifty different credit cards, someone has to put a deposit down for group rates, matching reunion t-shirts won’t be sold individually, etc. The internet has made it ridiculously easy to take care of this though, so don’t let it deter you.
Agree to a grocery list if eating in.
One of the fun things about a group vacation is having big cookouts or breakfasts. But, you’re going on vacation. Unless you’re staying really close by, you won’t want to bring food from home or pack leftovers. This means extra planning so that one person can take it on (you don’t have to go yourself) or one big group shopping trip. Now that only one shopping trip has been made, and the items were agreed upon, you can easily split the bill. One note: it’s a good idea to have someone bring spices. They fit in suitcases and make your food so much tastier, but they’re expensive and you can’t split them when you’re done.
You don’t need to scrap your plans if you can’t agree.
My final tip in creating your group trip budget – just because you don’t have the same budget doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the same trip. Perhaps instead of that huge cabin you were going to rent you get individual hotel rooms wherever is affordable, then meet at your various locations. Maybe you switch your cross-country beach trip to the closest lake. If some of you want to camp and others wants luxury digs, it could be time for you to try glamping. There are all kinds of ways to compromise if in the end your budgets just don’t match up. Don’t let money differences ruin your good time.
Group Trip Budget Questionnaire
Friends, if all these tips just don’t cut through the red tape enough, pass out this questionnaire. It can be anonymous. There are two versions below, one in Excel for editing and one in PDF if you prefer. Good luck with your planning and hit me up in the comments if you have more questions to add or want to share your experiences planning a group trip budget!