When it’s winter time here on the east coast, all you crave is some uninterrupted golden sun and warmth. This year, winter is especially unforgiving and so a group of friends and I decided to take a trip out west in search for some elusive sunshine. To sunny California it was! We booked a flight for the middle of a work week to beat the crowds and the infamous Los Angeles traffic. It should be noted that we did not beat the LA traffic. Nothing beats LA traffic. The five of us, in our mid to late twenties, had steady jobs and similar temperaments which allowed us to plan a short trip that hit all our interests. And it wasn’t so hard on our wallets considering we were taking 4 days off of work! Here are some things we planned or retrospectively realized that helped with our budget.
1. Lay ground rules
From the very start we established our travel troupe’s spending rules. We all agreed to split everything amongst ourselves equally, from small snacks to plane tickets. If something was shared, the cost would be also be shared. We also came to an understanding regarding the spending range. Because we had all known each other for a long time, we understood that no one was particularly stingy or overly spendthrift. We all had similar budgets and laying the rules in the beginning made the rest of the journey easy and stress-free.
2. Keep a tab
When in vacation mode, keeping a tab of all your purchases is hard. However, we made a conscious effort to keep our records straight. Anytime someone received a receipt of payment they would snapshot it and send to the trip’s group-chat. Also, every morning, over breakfast we would go over the previous day’s spending, tally it up and write down what was owed per person. With the convenience of mobile payment apps like Paypal and Venmo, sending and receiving money was as easy as texting the money bag emoji. This created a sense of accountability, telling us how much we’d spent already. So, before the next day’s adventures even begun, we were all squared out financially.
“With the convenience of mobile payment apps like paypal and venmo, sending and receiving money was easy as texting the money bag emoji.”
3. Divide and Conquer
Since we were splitting evenly, things started looking cheap. Individually none of us would spend $35 for convenience parking, but for the five of us it was $7 each and hell yes; we would part with that cash to bypass a mile worth of walking to a crowded theme-park. Similarly, it’s not prudent to spend on a luxury hotel when one person is paying. I would never go on vacation with my family and ask my father to be the sole bearer of this burden. However, among five paying members…it was the best decision ever! We got a beach-front luxury cottage with complimentary five-star breakfast, laundry and other amenities. Vacation just got real!
4. Bulk up, Save up
Another great savings decision was to buy a bulk pack of water and snacks on the first day, which lasted us the duration of the trip. This way we didn’t have to stress about finding a place to eat every time we felt hungry. Throw in a few extra rolls of croissants that we “took” from the hotel breakfast bar and our noon cravings were satiated with the fresh fruits and slightly stale bread. This saved us some cash and allowed us to go all out at dinner. Asking the locals also helped since they knew where the reasonably priced eateries were. Fish tacos for the win!
“Laying the rules in the beginning made the rest of the journey easy and stress-free”
5. Pack Light, Pack Right
Another benefit of traveling came in retrospect while unpacking our sandy bags still smelling of seawater. Packing for a flight is a challenge. Ask anyone who has had to choose what to take out of the bag while staring at the weighing scale and luggage guidelines. You need bulky beach towels, spare outfits, and hiking boots along with grooming kits and toiletries. However, travelling with friends we were able to share the responsibilities of what to pack. Only one person had to bring items like sunblock, toothpaste, and a picnic blanket for everyone to share. We didn’t have to go running to the store because one person misplaced their phone charger. And we could always count on giving some of our extras to the light packer! It saved everyone space and from paying extra fees for extra luggage.
So what are you waiting for? You and your friends have always wanted to go out on that trip! You can’t use the budget as an excuse anymore! Travelling with friends and a change of air doesn’t have to be an expensive affair.
For more reading material regarding budgeting and savings, check out our wealth category!