When friends decide to take a trip together, it can be either as good or bad as it can get. It will rarely be somewhere in the middle. Whether it comes out as the idea of the century or a major disaster really depends on what you do before the trip starts. If the friends start the trip with unequal expectations and a lack of planning for expenditures, things have the potential to get ugly in a hurry. With some mutual effort beforehand, most of the pitfalls can be avoided, and a great trip can happen.
Determine how expenses will be handled.
There are two major problems that can come up with regard to expenses. The first is the one most people struggle with when friends travel together. One friend or couple will find themselves paying the lion’s share of the costs. The other happens when one party will not let the other friend pay for anything. This can make the one with the free ride feel inferior.
When you travel, the majority of the costs break down in about 3 ways. Traveling involves food, lodging, and transportation. Come to reasonable agreements before you pack for the trip how these will be covered.
Meals can bring their special form of headaches.
Meals can be a real problem. People tend to be reluctant to tell the server that they will need multiple checks when the meal is ordered. Once a single ticket hits the table, the stand off or the struggle over the ticket starts. The thinking here is that you either wait out the other party until they pick up the tab. Or, you grab it first so you can look important. Both of these are not acceptable on a protracted trip. This will get annoying rapidly.
If neither of these happen, it is because you decide to split the ticket yourself. This never works. One party will count it to the penny and ignore the tax or just throw a sum of money at the other party. Sometimes, one friend will eat huge amounts and expect to only pay half of the total ticket. In any case, someone ends up overpaying for most meals. Just get the ticket spit and avoid the hassle.
You will need to decide some general rules on the type of food to eat. Will you eat in the car? How often will you want to mix in fast food? Do you want to stop and have a meal in a restaurant every time? Even the idea of deciding how many meals to eat per day can be an issue.
Agree on the type of lodging and how many rooms will be needed.
The lodging issue is made worse if children are traveling with adults. Some of the group will try to save by packaging their kids in with someone else. Deciding ahead of time that there will be no mixing and matching of families to save on lodging is about the only way to avoid this issue. However, if both parties agree to share from one night to the next on the room costs, this can be worked out.
You want to make sure that you have an understanding on the quality of rooms that you will be getting. If one friend wants Motel 6 and the other wants the Ritz, you may have a problem. These establishments rarely inhabit the same neighborhood. If cost is the a major problem because of financial means, you may want to find a compromise with the more affluent friend subsidizing the rooms.
If traveling by car, determine how fuel and other maintenance costs will be shared.
Some people solve the fuel purchase by having one friend pay for the fuel going and the other pay on the return. A similar way to do this is for each friend to pay for every other fuel stop. Either of these tend to be better than splitting the tickets up when you get home. There is the risk that the one that did not pay during the trip may not be able to pay after the trip.
Also, it is common for the person who furnishes the car to pay for less fuel than the passengers. How this is worked out is up to the travellers. Most of the time, the car owner will pay for any maintenance or repairs that arise on the trip. The idea here is that the wear that led to the repair bill did not just happen on the trip.
Traveling by car raises another potential problem. Who will do the driving? Some people do not like to drive long distances. Others do not like to ride when they are not driving. Others really like to drive some and ride some. This just has to be discussed ahead of time.