Sample ImageSo often, my trips have been to wonderful destinations with a large group of friends (20 to 30), and we’ve managed to come home still as friends.

But that’s because we worked very hard to plan in advance for what really turns out to be setting up house on the road. 
Sometimes you get so caught up in the reason for the trip (a reunion, a jazz fest, a church retreat, a sporting event, a business conference or a vacation) that how you are going to interact with fellow travelers is not on your mind.

Often, there is so much discussion about how you’re getting there, where you’re sleeping, and where you are going to eat, that you don’t think about daily conversations, pet peeves, medical conditions and bad habits that you didn’t know your friends and/or family had because you are not with them every day.

Well, I’m here to tell you that all those things can be a deal breaker if you’re not paying close attention.

Here are few areas to think about and how to avoid controversy:

1. Restaurants. Before you arrive at a restaurant with a large group, a few of you should meet and decide how to deal with the bill. Some may be of the mindset to have separate checks, and some may want to divide up the bill evenly. Either scenario can look and sound quite confusing when you make such decisions in the restaurant. Most restaurants are going to prefer one bill for all of you to figure out who ate what and who pays what.  That’s fine if everyone is eating the same thing. But if some eat soup and sandwich, some eat appetizers only, and others eat lobster and filet mignon, there is nothing equal about those choices. So I suggest that you identify the party planner in the group to call ahead, get the menu, and suggest to the group an average amount that each may pay so that everyone is ready to split the bill, including the tip, in advance.

2. Bar tabs. Usually, the wait staff will try to set up one bill for a large group, and the ones with the deep pockets end up footing the bill.  Don’t be shy when all is said and done. Either reimburse your benefactor or pick up the tab for all the next time.

3. Ground Transportation. If your group can fit into one rental car or taxi, this usually doesn’t cause a problem.  But if your group requires more than one car, again designate one person to organize with the bell captain the multiple vehicles, the price and how to pay.  Sometimes, multiple cars or mini vans reduce the price.  Nothing stresses a person out more than being the one hopping out last with the driver looking at you, and everybody else walking away.

Unless you are the one with deep pockets and don’t mind picking up the tab, be mindful of your travel buddies, and pay your share.

Deborah Ally is host of South Florida Voices, a community affairs TV program that airs on CW South Florida WSFL-TV. She is also the co-founder of American Cricketer, The Lifestyle Magazine for Cricket Fans.  She can be reached at