Group va­ca­tion­ing? Make sure to set bound­aries

When trav­el­ling in a group, don’t take off with­out a bud­get

StarMetro Halifax - - DAILY LIFE - LES­LEY-ANNE SCORGIE

Two years ago I went on a group va­ca­tion with nine other peo­ple into the Muskokas. On Day 1 it was bliss­ful: warm tem­per­a­tures, great views, won­der­ful friends, and the low cost made my fru­gal heart flut­ter with joy.

But by Day 3, I was ready to hitch­hike my way back to the city. Noth­ing could have pre­pared me for the drama amongst my friends.

Ev­ery­one started with good in­ten­tions. Then grudges arose around un­fair dis­tri­bu­tion of gro­ceries and cot­tage cleanup du­ties. To avoid the thick ten­sion, I spent the ma­jor­ity of my time chill­ing on the dock ... alone.

Shar­ing va­ca­tions and va­ca­tion prop­er­ties with fam­ily and friends is a fab­u­lous way to shave costs. But with­out clear bound­aries, even the best-laid plans can back­fire fi­nan­cially and per­son­ally, Here’s how to do it right.

Pick a travel part­ner with the same money mindset Not all peo­ple should va­ca­tion to­gether, es­pe­cially when

some­one has a his­tory of bad fi­nan­cial be­hav­iours, such as squab­bling over restaurant bills or “for­get­ting” to re­pay you .

The best travel bud­dies are fi­nan­cially aligned, mean­ing they have sim­i­lar val­ues around tip­ping, flight up­grades, travel in­sur­ance as well as bud­gets for food and ac­com­mo­da­tion.

If a fi­nan­cial chal­lenge (like a flat tire) arises while on hol­i­day, savvy travel part­ners use re­spect­ful com­mu­ni­ca­tion to come to a fair fi­nan­cial res­o­lu­tion.

Go Dutch

Hands down, the best way to avoid con­flict when trav­el­ling with oth­ers is to split costs

evenly. Sim­ply tell the ser­vice provider at your restaurant, ho­tel or amuse­ment park that you re­quire the bill to be equally split. If you have to pre­pay for tick­ets, ask your travel part­ners to e-trans­fer you their por­tion the same day the charges are in­curred.

What­ever you do, avoid “I’ll pick it up next time” sce­nar­ios. Re­sent­ment will build quickly.

Dis­tri­bu­tion of du­ties

House swaps, through a com­pany like Home­ex­change.com or Airbnb, are a fab­u­lous way to re­duce ac­com­mo­da­tion costs com­pared to ho­tels. How­ever, in the ma­jor­ity of these cases, your party will be on the hook for daily clean­ing, cook­ing, dishes and laun­dry. Be­fore you board your flight, es­tab­lish a clear set of ex­pec­ta­tions around who is re­spon­si­ble for what.

Shar­ing prop­erty with fam­ily Many Cana­di­ans jointly own all man­ners of va­ca­tion houses with their sib­lings, par­ents or chil­dren. But it’s nec­es­sary to de­ter­mine who is re­spon­si­ble for paying the prop­erty taxes, cut­ting the grass, fill­ing up the boat, buy­ing gro­ceries, and most con­tro­ver­sially, manag­ing the cal­en­dar of ‘who uses the prop­erty when.’ It’s gen­er­ally best to ap­point a leader within the fam­ily who can as­sign re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, re­quest ap­pro­pri­ate pay­ments and ne­go­ti­ate sched­ules.

I re­cently came across a Van­cou­ver-based Shared­key that au­to­mates that very sched­ul­ing process; they will soon launch a bud­get tool to help fam­i­lies man­age their va­ca­tion prop­er­ties.

The en­tire fam­ily can ac­cess the cal­en­dar and in­for­ma­tion about the prop­erty, right down to which days of the week the re­cy­cling and garbage bins are picked up.

What­ever style of va­ca­tion you choose, save your por­tion of the costs in ad­vance. That way you won’t get slapped with mas­sive credit card bill upon your re­turn.

IS­TOCK

Even the best-laid va­ca­tion plans can back­fire fi­nan­cially with­out clear bound­aries, writes Les­ley-anne Scorgie.

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