Traveling with someone is a great way to cut costs on your trip, particularly when it comes to accommodation. I remember starting out flying solo after a month of traveling with another person thinking, “Great – now I’ll only have to pay for whatever I want, and not have to take someone else’s habits or expenses into consideration.” True…but not really. I ended up spending more for transportation, food and, the big one, accommodation on my own than I did with someone.
When you’re traveling with someone you can often split costs. But you also need to have a clear understanding of how you’re going to deal with money on the trip, both individually and together. Though, finance-wise, traveling in your twenties is completely doable, most of us also aren’t in the position to not worry about the expense or spend our money freely.
These are a few things I’ve found helpful at managing travel money with a partner.
Outline your budget before your trip
To avoid any surprises or conflicts, work together to outline a budget before you leave home. Even if you’ll be paying for everything separately, it’s important to have similar ideas and guidelines for how much the trip is going to cost. The big expenses to think about are major travel costs (plane tickets), local transportation, food and accommodation.
Know what each of you tend to spend your money on
If one person wants to spend more on nicer accommodation or eating options, while the other would be happier sleeping in a dorm bed and eating bread and butter sandwiches, you’re going to have issues. Major issues. The more similar you are in your spending habits, the easier it will be.
Travel with someone you trust
You may get along well with your travel partner, but do you trust how they handle their money? If you need to lend them some, will they be sure to pay it back? If you need help, will they give you some extra cash? There’s plenty of other things to think about and be careful of while traveling…trusting who you’re with shouldn’t be one of them.
Contribute to a shared money pool
Between constantly having to pay for things, exchanging currencies and paying for each other here and there, it’s easy to lose track of how much money you paid for coffee together or how much they borrowed from you in small bills because they couldn’t find change anywhere. Traveling with someone means you have a partner to share the stresses of being on the move, but depending on your relationship – and how much funds you have – sharing costs and borrowing money can easily become a source of tension when it’s time to figure out how to even things up.
On the other hand, it’s also annoying to always be meticulous about splitting costs down the middle as you pay for things, especially when you’re rushing to buy tickets for that train that’s about to pull away.
Before your trip, consider each contributing the same amount of money into a shared stash. Get the money in cash and keep it in a safe place to use for shared accommodation and transportation…even a couple rounds of beers at the end of the night. Once the money is pooled together you won’t have to think about who owes what or splitting costs. Easy!
Unexpected costs come up, wallets are stolen and ATM cards never seem to work when you really need them to (or they are conveniently lost in the ocean by your travel partner days before you two leave for India for a month – true story). Chances are there will be times when your travel partner wants to spend money (and time) on activities you’re not as interested in, or you’ll need to borrow some cash until your bank card starts working again. Be flexible and willing to compromise. Maybe you agree to spend the dough on that activity if you can choose what you do the next day, and both of you cut back on expenses while you’re sharing the same cash.
What budgeting and money habits have worked work – or not worked – for you when traveling with someone?