How to Have the Vacation #RealMoneyTalk with Your Friends

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Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

Nowadays it seems like every major life event requires some sort of travel. From bachelorette parties to milestone birthdays, you might find yourself requesting a lot of time off to go and celebrate. But all of these festivities can end up being a major burden on your bank account each month. Trips to Aspen don’t come cheap, especially when it’s your friend’s 30th birthday blow out, and you certainly don’t want to miss out on making memories (or the Instagram moment) with your friends. So how do your artisanal, gluten-free cupcake and eat it too?

According to Mint, 2.2 million app users created a monthly travel budget last year, but 44% ended up spending way more than their allotted amount. This is a common occurrence for two reasons:

  1. People often miscalculate how much they think a trip will actually cost them.
  2. They get swept up in the moment and forget about their responsibilities (aka bills) back home.

To avoid the shock of your maxed out credit card bill post-vacay, there are a few key steps you need to take. The first is being honest with yourself, your budget, and your travel companions.

If you know there is no way you can afford a ticket for your friends weekend getaway — speak up! Set travel expectations early with your friends by having the #RealMoneyTalk. Start by explaining your situation before your friends start making grand plans. Try telling them that you really want to join in on the trip, but it isn’t in your budget right now. By letting them know that you’re not trying to avoid the trip altogether, they’re more likely to work with you to make the trip, or another fun event that is within budget, happen.

If your friends make more money than you, it might feel a bit awkward to say, “Hey this trip is just too expensive for me to take right now”, but would you rather say to them, “Hey can you pay for my dinner cause I spent all of my money getting here?” To me personally, the former sounds like the less uncomfortable option.

Remember your friends have been with you through thick and thin! You’ve had plenty of real talks with them before. This one should be no different. You owe them honesty, and the #RealMoneyTalk – they don’t want you holding any money shame in. And odds are they would rather have you on the trip than not! Once you’ve ripped the bandaid off, offer up a few ways you all can save money on the trip.

Travel on “Off” Days

Do your research to see which days are cheaper to travel on. Air and train fares fluctuate based on departure time, demand, time of year, among other reasons. There is even research that suggests that tickets tend to be cheaper on Tuesdays! If you can, try to be flexible in your departure days, so you don’t have to pay a premium for Friday or Sunday tickets. Also, consider red eyes or early morning flights you might be able to save a couple hundred dollars because you chose a time when people typically sleep.

No Hotel, No Problem

Instead of staying at a five-star hotel, take a look at local rentals instead. You might end up finding a cheaper option that turns out to be more fun because you’ll get the local experience. Additionally, if you’re going to visit with other friends or family on your trip, it might not be glamorous, but see if you can sleep on their couch to save money. You’ll also get the added benefit of being able to spend more time with them.

Cook Up Some Savings

When you’re traveling, constantly eating out is a given. Part of the fun of traveling is trying out new cuisines and local favorites. But #RealMoneyTalk, eating out can quickly eat up your budget. To save some dough, try to stay at a hotel or rental that will allow you to cook some of your meals in. It doesn’t need to be a full kitchen, a microwave and mini-fridge can go a long way in making a good meal. This can also lead to a fun adventure with your friends to make the best microwave meal possible! Mug cake brownies anyone?

Cut the Bill in Half

Finally, remember to never be afraid to split the bill when traveling with friends. This includes everything — transportation, hotels, dinners, and more. If you’ve already told them you can’t go overboard on this vacation they won’t be surprised by any Venmo request that comes their way.


Traveling with friends can be a blast, but don’t forget that the #RealMoneyTalk you have with them can go a long way in helping you have an epic trip that doesn’t have unwanted souvenirs.


Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further