Alexis CastorinaDirector, Consumer Content Strategy, Early Warning Services, LLC
Imagine this: You, your best pals and your car. All together thanks to a last-minute idea sent over group text. Road tripping back to where you all met more than a decade ago. Your alma mater. Ashley decided it was in your best interest to head back for homecoming (because you’re all getting old).
Whether it’s to reconnect with fellow alumni at a homecoming football game, or a quick trip to see your favorite band play in another city for the night, road trips with friends are a blast – and go by too fast.
Before hitting the road, map out some of the details so things like determining who owes for what doesn’t slow you down. Here are a few tips to keep you moving and on your way to a memorable weekend.
Divvy Up the Tasks
Figure out who does what. Have the friend voted best driver in the pilot seat for most of the journey. The logistical one can plan the necessary pit stops and overnight accommodations. When you get to your destination, determine if you’ll mostly be dining out or will need to make a grocery store run (then have fun hashing out menu options that will satisfy a group that includes vegan, gluten-free, paleo and off-my-diet-this-weekend palates).
Decide How You’ll Share the Costs
Avoid having to open your wallet at every pit stop or after every small purchase. The longer you spend trying to divvy up who owes what, the less time you have to spend having fun. Will you have one person pick up the tab for every meal and figure out what each person owes at the end of the trip? Will one person pay for the gas or will you all split it evenly? Plan these logistics in advance so no one is caught off guard.
Determine What Payment Method Works for Everyone
When it came time for my friends to settle up for a homecoming trip, things got awkward. Everyone used a different payment method. One person had cash, but didn’t have the exact amount owed. Two people used mobile payment apps, but each used a different app. And, one person actually had a checkbook buried at the bottom of her large purse.
Pro tip: Pick an option that is fast, safe and easy for you all to use.
How We Settled Up
For our trip, I was the “group mom” (I don’t have kids, but they like to call me that). I paid for everything on the trip (strategically racking up those credit card reward points). I let the girls know I’d keep track of all the expenses and would let them know what each person owed at the end. Here’s how we settled up:
For starters, I shamed Ashley on carrying around a checkbook. Ok, just kidding – sort of. And then I explained that we all probably had one common payment option available to us at that moment: Zelle®.
Me: “Ash, who do you bank with?”
Ashley: “Wells Fargo®.”
Me: “Don’t worry about dusting off that checkbook and finding a pen. Open up your Wells Fargo app. See? Right there. You have Zelle.
Sara: “I have an account with U.S. Bank®.”
Me: “Then you have Zelle, too.”
Julie: “What about my credit union?”
Me: “Hmm, looks like your credit union doesn’t offer Zelle yet, but you can download the Zelle app and register with your debit card.”
Me: “Adrienne, how about you?”
Adrienne: “Bank of America®.”
Me: “Perfect. You’ve already got Zelle in your mobile banking app.”
Since we all used Zelle, all I had to do was send a request to each person for the amount they owed me. It was fast, safe and easy.
With Zelle you can send money to and request from almost anyone* right from your phone, and it may already be in your bank’s mobile app. Check to see if your bank or credit union offers Zellehere. If your bank doesn’t offer Zelle yet, simply download the Zelle app from the App Store or Google Play. It’s easy to get started.
Settle up quickly and let the reminiscing and new memories commence this homecoming!
* Zelle® is available to U. S. bank account holders only.