Hoo boy. I think I discovered that travelling with friends isn't always a shiny happy bicycle-riding funfest back when I spent a few months in Central America with my then best friend. We were in each other's faces (and a $2 cell/room) and I was dealing with a break up and oh god, it was claustrophobic. I probably wasn't my best self during that time, and I also discovered things about her I didn't love. We ended up having a month off from our friendship when we got back to reality. But enough about me and my dramas, because there's someone in real need of some urgent advice...
I’m travelling to Europe with friends later in the year and have been tasked with finding our Airbnb accommodation, which I’m happy to do. Here’s my problem: the couple I am travelling with have certain requirements that both limit our options and drive up the price-per-night. While of course I want to stay somewhere lovely, I am on a budget and if we split the cost equally (as we planned to) will be paying more than I had hoped. Is it fair to ask them to pay more? And if so, how do I broach this?
Get out in front of this ASAP, Penelope! If you are traveling with someone, especially as intimately as you are, budget discussions should be among the first steps you take to plan a trip together. Perhaps even before you fully commit to the trip, you and your fellow travelers should be on the same page financially. Backpacking is quite different from an all-inclusive spa resort. Be clear and to-the-point when discussing your finances for this trip. Speak without embarrassment or apologies; for example, you simply have $2,000 to spend including all airfare and hotels. Period. A good friend will respect your budget and make accommodations with that in mind.
Go to your friends and speak honestly about your situation. You can say just what you said to me. (Try to have this conversation in person or over the phone as a second choice.) You could try something like, “I'm so excited for the trip and I'm still up for choosing our Airbnbs, but I need to speak to you about my budget. With these specifics you gave me, it's looking like I won't be able to stay within my lodging budget. Would you be open to altering the requirements for our stays to give us more diverse, less expensive options?” Prior to this conversation, do some research to show your friends a few options that are within your budget. It might convince them to see that the places you can afford to stay are still high quality and thoughtfully chosen. They may have made some rigid requirements not realizing that they didn’t really need a parking space or claw foot tub. You could also make a compromise that you stay 1 or 2 nights in a fancy hotel and the rest in cost-effective Airbnbs.
If they won’t budge, you can kindly ask if they could cover more of the cost. A last, less fun option is that you could make separate accommodations for yourself nearby. But whatever you do, stick to your bottom line. You want this vacation to be fun and relaxing, not send you into debt and resentment. During these financial discussions I would also touch base on the types of restaurants, transportation and sightseeing you’ll be doing, so there aren’t surprises when you arrive in Europe. Happy Travels!
Image by Julien Capmeil