A getaway with friends is a great opportunity to relax, reconnect, and have some serious fun. But how do you mind your money manners when you’re on a budget yet your friends are spending like nobody’s business? We get it: You don’t want to miss out and you also don’t want to be the group tightwad.

Luckily, we’ve got some tips to help you stay on budget while traveling with friends. This way everyone can enjoy a fabulous vacation no matter how much they plan on spending. Read on to learn more.

Location is Everything

When my friends and I started planning our spring getaway, the six of us immediately decided that a wine tasting weekend was the way to go. However, not all wine tasting trips are created equal. For example, renting a house in Napa – only a four hour drive away – would cost around $500. And, at that price most of us would need to sleep on the floor. On top of this, we would need to pay about $20 per winery tour, as well pony up cash for gas and food.

A trip to the much closer Sierra Nevadas, however, would cost around $300 per person to cover all the expenses: a great house rental, gas, wine tastings, and all the groceries.


  • My biggest takeaway: when picking a location for your getaway with friends, make sure everyone is on board and can afford it. For instance, if all of you can afford a beachside trip to Santorini, great! But if only some of you can swing it, maybe your group should travel to a drive-to beachside spot instead.
  • Don’t commit to the chosen location if you know you can’t afford to go. Be upfront if you can’t swing the cost, and simply say it’s not in your budget right now. If you’re not honest with your friends, it may spoil the trip for everyone else. For instance, if you drop out after your group has already rented a house, this means everyone else’s share of the cost increases and this may put a financial strain on others.

Talk About the Trip Together

It’s important to collectively decide where your group is going to stay and what you plan to do while away. For example, decide together whether your group will rent hotel rooms or a house. And, plan the nature of the trip as well. Are you planning to spend your days out shopping or exploring museums? Do you want to plan dinner reservations at a “must-eat” restaurant or would you prefer to buy groceries and cook together?

These are all things you need to talk about before you head out as this will help you manage your budget. Keep in mind that you can also choose to do something less expensive on your own if your budget precludes you from going on an expensive tour or other excursion.


  • Do your research. Look up your vacation spot along with terms like “budget-friendly” or “free things to do.” After a bit of sleuthing on the Internet, share your favorite frugal finds with your friends.
  • Plan a splurge. Even if you’re on a budget, try to find a balance between scrimping and spending. For example, perhaps you can save some extra cash so you can afford to go on a tour or out to dinner with the group. You are on vacation after all.

Decide How to Divvy up Expenses

If you’re going to cook dinners at your rental property, how will you handle the grocery costs? Have you talked about who pays for gas if you’re the one driving? These are the types of expenses you should be discussing now, not mid-trip. When it comes to vacation, it’s also best to have a plan for splitting the bills before you go. This way you won’t blow your budget or find yourself in an awkward situation.


  • Think about what sorts of costs will need to be divvied up throughout the trip – from accomodations, to meals, to transportation. Figure out ahead of time how you and the rest of the group will pay for joint expenses. Perhaps you can use an app like Venmo or Chime’s Pay Friends feature – both of which help you split costs.
  • Take charge of the planning. Step up to the plate and be the one who finds the most cost-effective options. Chances are your friends will appreciate your leg-work, not to mention the fact that you’ll be helping them all save money.
  • Be upfront. Before you head out to a group meal, remind your friends that you’re on a budget. You can also ask the server for separate checks at the beginning of the meal to avoid any last-minute tension over splitting the bill.

Be Honest and Speak Up

Going on a getaway with friends doesn’t have to lead to awkward money moments. Talking about your plans early and speaking up about your budget concerns can save your friendships and your wallet.

Remember: from the early planning stages to last minute adventures, it’s important to mind your money manners. This way everyone – even you – can enjoy the trip.

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Gemma Hartley

Gemma Hartley is a full-time freelance writer living in Reno, NV. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, CNBC, Glamour, Women's Health, DailyWorth and more.