The sunlight has definitely been scarce this spring, so I’m thinking that means summer will be upon us without much of a transition period. With summer comes fun travel plans, and lately I’ve noticed a trend of people taking group trips. This may be families hitting a destination together, adult friends and their children hitting the road, or families traveling to sports tournaments.
Togetherness can certainly make a summer trip special, but it can also put a damper on things if not everyone is aligned on plans and monetary outlay. If a group trip is in your future, here are some things to consider before you pack your bags.
Lay the ground rules
Expectations can quickly get out of hand if not managed before a trip. I like to let people know up front that, although I’d like to do as many things as possible together, we may opt out of certain activities and go do our own thing.
If you’re not the organizer, certainly be respectful and commit to any kind of reservation ahead of time. But for other free times, take the opportunity to break apart and rest or go do something your family wants to try. This not only allows you to save money, but also carves out some sacred one-on-one time during the trip.
Not everyone enjoys their leisure time at the same pace, either. Some like to group a lot of activities into a short window, while others like to take it slow and stick to one activity a day. Getting a sense for this ahead of time will also help you determine what you’re comfortable committing to.
Define dining out expectations
One of the best things about traveling is trying new places to eat. Everywhere we go, we always find a new favorite that we swear we’ll return to. Check with your friends to see what types of restaurants they’d like to try, and therefore what level of expense you can anticipate. It’s likely a mix of stop-and-grab places, sit downs or even nicer establishments, but limiting surprises will help you plan your spending appropriately.
I mentioned this in a recent article and I’ll reiterate it again here. Share meals and have kids share meals if you can. You won’t be as full, nothing will go to waste and you’ll save some serious coin on your overall trip outlay.
Rethink your hotel room choice
Groups often reserve a block of rooms in a hotel so they can spend time together in the morning or evenings before or after activities. Rooms in close proximity are usually the same layout and rate, but if they’re premium rooms, hotel costs can really take a bite out of your trip spending.
Consider a non-premium room even if it’s on another floor or in a different building. I’ve found that on trips we’re really only in our room to sleep anyways, so spare the expense there.
Group trips can provide so many wonderful memories, especially if you have little ones who are creating special moments with friends or family. Your experience will be much more pleasant and stress-free if you avoid coming home with an unexpected credit card balance. Some advanced planning and spending conversations will help you maximize the experience without financial worry.
Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, visit http://communityamerica.com.