Tips For Gently Backing Out Of A Group Trip You Can't Really Afford

Traveling is a great way to embark on new adventures and broaden your horizons. And, while there's great joy in traveling by yourself, venturing into the unknown with a group of friends can make your trip more exciting and meaningful. There's safety in numbers. You have friends to keep you company and get immediate support from. And you can share accommodations and packing space.

While sharing accommodations and transportation with friends makes travel costs far more reasonable in theory, not all group vacations are actually affordable in reality. If you're a solo traveler on a budget, you get to decide what to skimp on and what to spend a bit more for. On the other hand, when you're on a group trip, it's up to the group to decide on every detail of the trip. If you're going on an excursion with a group of friends with different budgets and conflicting expectations, things can be difficult. Maybe you're a strict-budget backpacker who doesn't mind sleeping in your car and eating cheap so you can spend more on other activities; but your friends might lean heavily toward a one-off, exclusive vacation with chauffeured cars and five-star accommodations. In that case, the cost of your group trip can be significantly higher than that of solo travel.

Although traveling is an essential investment in your mental health, going broke because of it might not be worthwhile. So, how can you cancel a group trip that you can't afford without upsetting your friends and being ruled out on future group trips?

Be honest about your tight budget

If the group trip expenses surpass your budget and you have to back out, explain truthfully to your friends instead of disappearing suddenly and leaving them wondering what has happened, says financial therapist Lindsay Bryan-Podvin (via Self). Money is a sensitive matter, but you don't have to let it drive a wedge between you and your squad. You can simply tell your friends that the cost of the trip is not aligned with your budget or you're saving up for some big plans in the pipeline. Your friends have no valid reason to be bummed out when the trip they want is out of your personal budget. Plus, there's nothing to be ashamed of about having a smaller disposable income or a leaner vacation budget than your friends.

If you're wondering whether you should ask your friend to reduce the costs of the trip so it fits within your budget, the answer is it depends. If most of your friends are in the same earning bracket as you are and you know they're flexible, feel free to offer more affordable alternatives. However, if your friends are all high rollers who expect the highest level of luxury and comfort for the trip, it might be awkward to ask them to lower their expectations so you can fit in. If your friends can really sympathize with your situation, they might offer to scale down the luxury elements of the trip so you can also join them.

See if you can reschedule

If you like the idea of going on a fancy group trip, but it's out of your price range for now, you can tell your friends that now is not a good time for you and ask if they can move the trip back by three or six months. You might want to do this early on before any plans are set in stone and booking deposits are made. That way, you have more time to prepare your finances for the trip.

You can decide to be honest with your friend about your financial status. Or, to avoid giving your friends too much insight into your financial health or making them feel guilty about the lavishness of the trip, you could instead remark that you are inundated with work or family obligations during this particular season. By suggesting a replacement for the trip that you can't join, you're letting your friends know that you still value your friendship and want to make an effort to spend time with them. If your friends don't have enough leeway to reschedule to a later date, at least you can graciously back out of the trip without having to say no to invitations.

Let your friends know how disappointed you are

The fact that your friends invite you to go on a trip with them shows that they want to bond with you over new and exciting experiences. When that plan falls through, it's normal for them to feel disappointed. Although it's not your fault that you can't keep up with their lifestyle, you should at least try to sympathize with your pals' disappointment. To avoid coming across as inconsiderate of their feelings when you're the one flaking out on them, make sure you give them extra love and show them how sorry you are, psychotherapist LeslieBeth Wish tells Elite Daily.

"The most important things to say in an apology — other than 'I'm sorry' — are: [a] clear admission statement of what you did wrong, [a] solution statement, [and] a connecting statement," advises Wish. In other words, aside from apologizing, acknowledge not being able to join them because of your financial situation or because you have other plans. Reassure your friends that, despite your not joining them on this trip, you still value your friendship and will make it up to them another time.

Pay your share of expenses if you cancel last minute

If your announcement to back out of the group trip comes too late and certain booking fees have been paid — such as lodging and transportation — you have got to bite the bullet and ante up, travel expert Kristin Lee tells GOBankingRates. Although paying for a vacation you are no longer taking doesn't feel fair, it is the only way to avoid making your friends feel more stressed and disappointed about your canceling on them at the last minute.

Fred Baker, travel website Travelness' senior travel editor, echoes the idea and concurs that it is fair to pay for any expenditures that have been planned in advance. "The main thing you should be prepared to pay for is the cost of the trip itself, as well as any non-refundable deposits or fees," Baker tells GOBankingRates. You can also be liable for covering any extra expenses the group incurs, including hotel or travel. In the end, it's crucial to thoroughly examine your insurance and contract to be aware of your financial obligations in the case of a cancellation. When it comes to group travel, an individual's decision can affect everyone. When you have to cancel a trip for whatsoever reason, the bare minimum you can do is to pay your share. If you don't, the other group mates will have to pay more to make up for your last-minute withdrawal and it's not fair for them. 

Find alternative ways to make it up to your friends

To prevent your friends from having hard feelings about not having you join them on a trip that you can't afford, proactively make a counteroffer and find alternative ways to bond with them, financial therapist Lindsay Bryan-Podvin tells Self. For instance, consider making it up to them by treating them to a picnic or inviting them over for a fun game night for a catch-up. There are many bonding activities that are simple, meaningful, and affordable. 

Or, to show your friends that you sincerely want them to have fun and that they shouldn't take your decline personally, offer to plan the itinerary for their trip, send them travel tips, or help them with packing. Bryan-Podvin notes that a good friend will have your best interest at heart and will not put pressure on you to do things beyond your means. If you're really in the company of good friends, you should let them know where you stand and have faith that they care about you enough to not want you to go into the red just to keep them happy. "You will have to really lead by example on that, though," therapist and mortgage broker Gemma Bennett tells Metro. "Because unless you educate them in considering things like this, they'll keep inviting you to things that are beyond your means without a thought."