Sharing a holiday rental with friends is a great way to cut down on accommodations costs and have a space to relax together after a long day sightseeing. But splitting a holiday rental doesn't always go smoothly — we've all had that one friend who hogs the bathroom getting ready, spews their stuff all over the couch, or tries to skirt paying their fair share.
Image from tommypayne.
We have some ideas on how to share a holiday rental and keep your friendships intact, and while this kind of planning and high level of communication isn't for everyone, it does tend to make holidays with other people go more smoothly. If this isn't your style, or your friends baulk at the idea of talking about things in such detail, then you might have to go with a more "wing it" style approach. If you do, know that things may not go as you want them to or that not everyone will be happy with what ends up happening.
Coordinate Ahead of Time
As with any group trip, a solid planning session or two goes a long way to making sure everyone enjoys the trip. Your session should include discussing:
- Everyone's top two or three wants in a rental. You need to get a sense of what's important to each friend. Set the expectation that everyone won't get all of their top wants, but it gives the group an idea of what should be prioritised when picking a place. For example, if three out of five people list proximity to the beach as their top want, that's something that should be considered when booking. Make sure that everyone has at least one of their wants satisfied so they don't end up feeling like they're paying to stay in a place they don't even like.
- Expectations of the trip. This goes beyond sharing a holiday rental, but is something you should discuss ahead of time. Some people might want to go out clubbing and some might be expecting to get an early start on sightseeing each day. You don't want to walk out of your room after a night of partying to see your friend annoyed that you weren't up in time to be first in line at the museum.
- Splitting major expenses. Discuss how the costs of food, transportation, activities and the rental itself will be split. Will things be split evenly? Or should people expect to pay based on how big their room is? Also, agree on how damage caused to the rental by one person will be paid for.
- Who owns organising what parts of the trip. To avoid confusion, ask people to volunteer to organise different parts of the trip. Things such as booking the rental and being the contact person with the host, planning any meals you cook, who actually cooks (this might rotate within the group), booking rental cars or train tickets, and buying other supplies you'll need.
- The guest policy. Decide from the start if other people will be allowed to join your trip once the planning is already in motion. You should also talk about whether last minute guests are allowed, and if they are what that means for the shared costs and how they're split.
- A schedule for limited spaces. Work out who likes to shower in the morning and at night so you can make a schedule for the bathroom. Talk about morning routines so you know if you need to find a rental with a mirror or other space that can be used for doing hair, makeup and other prep so that the bathroom is free. You might also decide to go as far as putting together a schedule for cooking and cleaning if your group plans to have a lot of meals at the rental.
- What to do if someone drops out. It sucks, but sometimes people have to bow out of a trip. Talk ahead of time about what costs they're responsible for if they do (this may depend on when they cancel) and how plans might change if someone does drop out. You may need to switch rentals or cut back on other trip costs to make up for the increased expense.
Not everyone is going to be thrilled about diving into such details, so propose planning as a fun get together where you all can get even more excited for your trip. Sipping drinks or chowing down on tasty treats puts everyone in a mood to agree on details.
If you're not able to meet in person, you can supplement with Facetime, a phone call or shared Google Docs. Avoid long email chains or group texts. If others aren't willing to pitch in at the planning stage, consider if you're really up for going on a trip with them. Their lack of effort from the start could put a damper on the holiday.
If you're thinking of planning a holiday somewhere in the US for more than a couple of nights, renting a place through services like Airbnb can save you some money. These are the states that give you have the best and worst deals on short-term rentals.
Set Up 'House' Rules
Once you arrive at your holiday rental, have a quick chat to go over house rules. Some of these will relate back to the schedule and other agreements you made in your planning session, but a refresher at the start of the trip helps people remember what they agreed to. Some other things you should go over:
- Quiet time: Is there a designated time (or times) during which people in the rental are expected to be quiet? For example, an hour in the afternoon when some people might nap or otherwise decompress, and then after a certain time at night.
- Keys: If you have a large group, it's likely that not everyone will have a key to the holiday rental (this may also be true if you have a rental car). Decide who will have keys and if there's a system for sharing keys (such as leaving them in a bowl by the door or on the coffee table).
- Plan for the first day or two: Quickly discuss what everyone wants to do the day your arrive, and possible the next day. This gives you a chance to decide on things such as buying groceries or other supplies, unpacking, going out, or seeing high priority sights.
End on a High Note
At the end of a great trip, it can be tempting to let everyone drift off to their flights home. However, you want to make a little effort to end things on a good note so that there's no last minute wrinkles.
- Wrap up lingering IOUs. On the last day, set aside time to tally up the costs and make sure everyone who is owed money gets paid (and not in a "I'll transfer you later..." kind of way).
- Organise a cleaning crew. Get everyone to pitch in to clean up your rental. You should know how much is expected from the host (maybe they don't want you to do anything). Split up tasks such as taking out the bins, emptying the fridge, piling up dirty sheets and towels, washing dishes, and vacuuming or sweeping. If people are departing at different times, those who leave first should try to do one or two cleaning tasks with the expectation that the last person there will do a final sweep and spot clean anything that's left.
- Share a fun memory. After the trip is over, send a postcard that you picked up or print out a fun photo and mail it with a note to remind your friends what a great time you had. This is optional, of course, but a nice gesture that ends things on a high note.