I’m in the middle of planning two group trips — one involves going to a conference in August, and the other is a Christmas cruise.
As I plan these trips, I have to manage costs, expectations, and people. Putting together an itinerary that fits every budget can be a challenge — in part because of how much money people spend on travel in general. In fact, the average spending on leisure travel in the U.S. by domestic and international travelers totaled $718.4 billion in 2017, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
Traveling with friends can be fun, allowing you to experience new places with the people you care about and enjoy spending time with. Planning the trip, though, can get complicated with different budgets, expectations, and timelines.
If you want to travel with your squad, here’s what you need to know.
1. Choose a leader
Someone needs to be “in charge,” according to Erica James, a travel consultant and founder of Erica James Travel.
Appointing a group leader can be a way to stay organized, keep a bird’s-eye view on trip costs, and ensure that people’s efforts aren’t being duplicated. The leader can delegate travel tasks to other members of the group, but ultimately, it’s best to have someone who can be the main point of contact.
“The group leader should be mindful of the people they invite to the travel squad,” said James. “Have an idea of what the members of the squad can and cannot afford, and keep that in mind as you move forward.”
When choosing a leader, it also makes sense to focus on someone who is organized and has the time to hunt down deals. A group leader also should be willing to follow up with members regarding their assigned tasks and be accountable for maintaining the timeline.
2. Decide on a budget
“Group travel can be hard because everyone has different incomes and responsibilities,” said Kristian Grant, a planning expert with Game Plan Planner, a lifestyle planning tool. “Creating a budget is one of the most important things you can do to get on the same page and make sure the trip happens.”
Find out how much each person can afford for the experience and break down the payments so that participants can manage the cost over time, James recommended. It’s often easier to think in small chunks, rather than trying to come up with all the money at once, she said.
For example, if you decide to spend $1,500 per person on a trip that’s taking place in six months, it can be broken down to $250 per month or $62.50 per week.
You can set up the trip’s finances in two ways:
- Each person pays for their own part of the trip as they go, booking their own accommodations and airfare.
- One person is in charge of a joint purse and makes all the arrangements. The other people pay the amount as arrangements are made, or by making regular payments.
It also is possible to use a variation on the second option, where different people take turns in paying for different aspects of the trip, allowing participants to take advantage of credit card rewards. The group leader needs to keep track of what’s going on, though, so everyone’s on the same financial page.
Consider opening a high-yield bank account to keep the money so that you earn some interest — and to ensure that the money isn’t diverted to other expenses, which can jeopardize the trip. Each member of the group can open their own account and save up for their portion. Or, if you trust one another, you can open a shared account.
3. Identify nonshared costs
Not every cost on the trip ends up being shared. As you determine your travel budget, make sure you’re clear about which costs can be shared.
Sharing accommodation costs and buying items together such as concert tickets make sense, according to Atiya Brown, a financial consultant and the founder of The Savvy Accountant. It also is a good idea to split costs for activities and tours that you’re all doing together.
But not every expense can be split.
“Food is personal, so my friends and I don’t split those costs when we travel,” said Brown. “We come up with restaurants we want to visit, and we can all order — and pay for — what we want.”
Nonshared costs should be included in the overall per-person budget to make sure everyone can afford to have an equitable travel experience.
4. Pick a destination
Grant suggested making a checklist of what everyone wants from the trip and use it, along with the budget, to nail down a destination.
“This will help you decide whether this trip should be in-state, on the other side of the country, or on the other side of the world,” Grant said.
Try to form a travel posse with like-minded people who all want the same things out of the experience. That makes it easier to create an itinerary everyone can enjoy.
Pay attention to the travel restrictions some group members might have. Find out if you need to allow time for someone to get a passport, or whether you all are trying to get Global Entry cards to speed through customs. If someone can’t meet the deadline, you might need to stay close to home this time.
Don’t forget to choose a destination that’s affordable for each person on the squad. Look for destinations that include a variety of activities that fit even the smallest budget.
5. Start planning early
The earlier you start planning, said Brown, the better off you’ll be.
“Reserve rooms very early so you don’t have to worry about rates rising later,” said Brown. She also suggested booking other items, such as airfare, as early as possible. In general, you’ll get the best airfare prices when you book between four and eight weeks in advance, but there are exceptions.
Even if you don’t reserve your rooms or travel accommodations immediately, deciding early that you’ll go can help you monitor sales. When I decided on the Christmas cruise with my squad, we agreed to keep an eye out for sales. Because I was vigilant, we were able to pounce on a great deal after four months of reviewing sales.
6. Use tools to stay organized and save money
Throughout the process, it’s important to stay organized and get the best bang for your travel buck.
It’s possible to use a spreadsheet — or even pen and paper — to organize and stay on task, but you can take advantage of other tools that can help you specifically plan a vacation.
Grant said she uses the travel template from the Game Plan lifestyle planner for her annual travel with her friends.
For complex trips, it can make sense to get help from a travel agency or consultant, James said. Additionally, depending on the agency you use, you might be able to plan your trip and pay in installments.
Mobile payment apps such as Venmo and Zelle make it easy to transfer funds and keep track of who’s paid — and who owes money. Another useful app is Splitwise, which can help you split costs on shared expenses.
Finally, productivity apps such as Asana and shared to-do list software can enable you to stay in contact with one another. These tools can help everyone see what they’re responsible for, manage deadlines, and get payments on time.
Pack your bags
If one of your squad goals is travel, it’s possible to make it happen. The bigger the trip, though, the more planning you’ll need so that you can avoid costly mistakes. Gather your crew and start planning today.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.97% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
APR stands for “Annual Percentage Rate.” Rates listed include a 0.25% EFT discount, for automatic payments made from a checking or savings account. Interest rates as of 11/8/2018. Rates subject to change.
Variable rate options consist of a range from 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term, 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term, 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term, 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term, or 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rate will change on the first day of every month (“Change Date”) if the Current Index changes. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes. The variable interest rates are calculated by adding a margin ranging from 0.98% to 3.80% for the 5-year term loan, 2.35% to 3.85% for the 7-year term loan, 2.40% to 3.90% for the 10-year term loan, 2.65% to 4.15% for the 15-year term loan, and 2.90% to 4.40% for the 20-year term loan, respectively, to the 1-month LIBOR index published on the 25th day of each month immediately preceding each “Change Date,” as defined above, rounded to two decimal places, with no origination fees. If the 25th day of the month is not a business day or is a US federal holiday, the reference date will be the most recent date preceding the 25th day of the month that is a business day. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term would be from $180.89 to $193.75. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term would be from $139.65 to $146.76. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term would be from $104.56 to $111.98. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term would be from $78.77 to $86.78. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term would be from $67.05 to $75.68.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.
All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.28% effective October 10, 2018.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.47% – 6.97%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.51% – 8.09%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.02% – 6.44%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.47% – 6.71%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.79% – 8.39%6||Undergrad & Graduate|