Welcome to the era where a mobile app can improve your travel experience! Although Venmo might have relieved us of the need to physically exchange money when going overseas, the app that best harnesses Venmo to liberate you from everything else that goes into exchanging money (time, emotional distress, fractions) is Splitwise.
Splitwise has been around a while and is increasingly popular among roommates. But lately, users have begun to spread its gospel as a low-key travel app. If you’re not using it for group trips — whether with one other person or with 10, for an eight-month backpacking stint or for a weekend at someone’s cabin upstate — you absolutely should.
How to use it:
Download the app (it’s free!) before you leave for your actual trip when you’re still in the planning stage. Create a “Group” that includes everyone who will be on the trip and name it something distinctive that will let you quickly identify it, like “CANCUN SPRING BREAK SENIOR YEAR” or “work thing.” Then, whenever any group member makes a trip-related purchase like a tour reservation or a hotel room or groceries, they can input the expense and the app will automatically divvy it between everyone.
As different people add different expenses in different amounts, it’ll add or subtract for a running tally of what each individual person owes, or is owed from, each other individual person. This way, you can see that you owe everyone $14.32, except for Karen from Sales, who owes you $23.09.
As handy as this is, the app still would be barely worth the time it takes to download without the feature that makes it truly invaluable: payment integration. Just link it to your Venmo or Paypal accounts and you can all pay each other out, in seconds, from within the app. You can also let the debts keep rolling around and settle up later.