Money Talk 5 Ways To Plan A Stressfree Trip
Money can be the sticking point of a group trip. We talked to a trio of financial advisors -- and a travel agent -- to talk dollars and sense. Here are five ways to plan a stress-free trip while staying within budget.
Tip #1: Pre-plan. "You can save trouble in the long run if you outline the itinerary ahead of time," suggests James Holtzman, a certified financial planner at Legend Financial Advisors (www.legend-financial.com). "Talk upfront about your choice of service providers -- hotels, restaurants, transportation -- to ballpark the total cost. If a person can't swing it, she'll be able to opt out beforehand (instead of discovering she can't afford it mid-trip!)
Tip #2: Pay for your own airfare. "Besides accounting for a significant sum, airfare bookings require entering a lot of personal information," says Agustin Krisnawahjuesa, a vice president at a New York asset management firm. "Also, people have different preferences in terms of add-on travel insurance."
Tip #3: Divvy up hotel reservations. Before booking accommodations, agree on the number and the category of rooms. "When I travel in groups, the person the most motivated in getting the best deal will usually book the hotel" -- and earn any loyalty club points, says Krisnawahjuesa. Jolie Goldring of Ovation Travel (www.ovationtravel.com) suggests settling the cost between roommates to avoid one person getting stuck with a big bill for multiple rooms.
Tip #4: Split or share? Discretionary spending (including extras like spa treatments and souvenirs) should be paid separately. Whenever possible, any other expenses, such as meals, should be divided according to consumption. "Whenever someone pays more than her share, it is resentment waiting to happen," Holtzman says.
Tip #5: Consider contributing to a pot of spending money. The larger the group, the more complicated group tabs can become. One solution? Designate a person in charge of petty cash (preferably someone with accounting skills). "Additional ATM charges often apply when traveling overseas, so a good person to appoint is the one with no-fee ATM withdrawals -- premier clients of HSBC or Chase, for example," Krisnawahjuesa suggests. Another option: purchase a pre-paid bank card, says Troy Sapp of Commencement Financial Planning (www.commencefp.com). "Each person could chip in beforehand, and then one person could track any group charges and the available balance during the trip," Sapp explains. Consumers should be aware of ATM withdrawal limits, daily use limits, and the terms of adding funds to the card; additional cards can often be linked to the main one. "Travelers should definitely ask the merchant for details and read the fine print. Not all are created equal, so it pays to shop around," Sapp says.