Greek vacation with online friends
March 5, 2019 9:37 PM   Subscribe

We're a group of women who've known each other online for nearly 20 years; several - but not all - of us have met; this is our first time arranging a vacation together - and it's in Greece! How do I help this go smoothly?

We're a group of eight, we think - two of us haven't said a final yes. We like a place on the island of Rhodes - Koskinou, Greece - which is affordable. It's owners/handlers say they will arrange for use of a Fiat Panda for the week. This is for early October.

What is the best way to arrange payment and responsibility here? One friend who knows more about renting overseas has found the place. I am happy to do the driving and also look forward to shopping and cooking some meals. That means two of us assume more responsibility - she'll put money down for the villa and I'll get the int'l auto insurance. Neither of us needs to pay less overall but certainly money will need to be pooled and paid, and I haven't the foggiest how best that to do that.
posted by goofyfoot to Travel & Transportation around Koskinou, Greece (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My friend circle does a lot of group travel; one guy in particular did most of the planning and would secure rental properties with his own cash, and then basically get stuck with a huge bill for months until friends remembered to pay him back. This was an ongoing issue until we instituted an official "Trip CFO." This role is filled by someone other than the person making that initial down payment. The job has two parts. Before the travel, the CFO sends a friendly-but-direct email explaining how much will be owed for initial expenses, lets everyone know they're expected to pay in full by X date, and then follows up to make sure those payments get made. All set housing expenses are paid before the trip. During the travel, the CFO tracks group eating expenses and other incidentals (we use the Splitwise app, so everyone can keep a running tally). Again, it's important to be direct about the expectation of how soon people need to pay. Keeping track of receipts may seem like a bit of a hassle, but at least no one ends up feeling screwed when the vacation's over.
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:10 PM on March 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

We also use Solitwise for group travel situations. Yes, it sucks that everyone has to have a login. But once you create an account, it’s super easy and transparent to use and to settle up, even if there are partial group expenses (Eg, 4 of the 8 of you eat at Fancy Restaurant one night - splitwise lets you track that as part of the group expenses, but only the affected individuals have to pay for their share.)
posted by samthemander at 11:31 PM on March 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Having done large 8+ people trips: never forget that sometimes it's nice to do activities outside of the main group. It's ok if someone takes a side trip etc. For that reason, it's good to have more than one car rental (make sure driver's licenses are distributed) or be ok with splurging on extra, non group transportation.
Also, if you're renting a villa, who decides who gets which room? A lottery is seriously better than the "I was last in the door, so have the Young Orphaned Wizard room" resentment. Even consider rotating if rooms are very different.
List of chores. Yep, a villa of eight gets eeky quickly. There often is one person who cleans because they can't stand something like a spot on the counter. They might resent their cleaning status, so at least many thanks and extra toast at dinner for that person. Of course always pitch-in in the cleanup chores and then they go fast.
Finally, there often is the one person that somehow is always slightly off compared to the group: glass is half empty; always late; doesn't want to do something; spends money like candy; thinks everything is overpriced; really wants to do something that no one cares about; etc. It's ok to piss that person off and tell them to stop. Also, the first point. Freedom of a day or two just smoothes other small annoyances away.
And most importantly: have a boatload of fun!!!
posted by Yavsy at 11:55 PM on March 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

8 of you won’t fit into the vehicle you mention- unless you plan to get around walking or on transit your group will require another, presumably rental, vehicle

you should discuss how you’d like to handle food because with 8 people you’ll have diverse preferences, you may have allergies or intolerance etc

You may not all be on the same page about alcohol consumption
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:07 AM on March 6, 2019

Sidenote: your credit card might take care of the international car insurance, you might not need to buy it separately.
posted by signal at 5:48 AM on March 6, 2019

Not SPECIFICALLY answering your question but important when staying with people you might be shy around - something specific to Greece is that they have very old, narrow plumbing and you can’t flush toilet paper. You put it in a little bin next to the toilet and, just, ugh. It’s bad enough if it’s just your own but with several people sharing a toilet? The solution is doggy poo bags or nappy/diaper disposal bags to wrap the paper you use each time you go before putting it in the shared bin. Get some doggy poo or nappy bags and chuck them in your luggage before you go because I couldn’t find any (at least not in the largest grocery in the second largest city in Crete) and four of us ended up going through two boxes of small, pink, scented trash bags and I felt bad about that.
posted by cilantro at 6:12 AM on March 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

as far as the rental, sometimes owners will let each person pay their share directly. not often and i am guessing probably not in a tiny town in greece, but worth asking.

if not, i would find out what the pay schedule is for the housing and then set hard dates for installments to be made by each person. all lodging fees paid before you leave. same with any associated car fees

as for food and drink. this will depend on how exacting you want to be. do people want to be exacting and split super evenly to the dollar? can they be more flexible? if they can be more flexible maybe assign meals to people where they buy, cook and clean eveything that meal and make sure each person is involved in even number of meals. you could also ask each person to put 100 in a pot for the week and all groceries bought out of that, leaving reciepts if you want to be more equal dollar wise.
posted by domino at 7:02 AM on March 6, 2019

I would encourage you to be really clear about financial expectations.
If someone never uses the car, are they still expected to kick in for insurance? Is everyone on the same page about eating out versus cooking at home? What if people have different ideas about this? If a group of 4 want to eat out every meal, will the people who cook at home freak out if eaters-out eat some of the groceries? If you are cooking at the house, what happens if someone wants fancy pants meals every night?
The best way to avoid hurt feelings and issues is to think about all these things ahead of time and have very clear, direct, conversations about it so there are no surprises.
posted by avocado_of_merriment at 7:06 AM on March 6, 2019 [4 favorites]

Yes! Discuss money upfront.

I will never, ever forget the classmate who treated us all to dinner at the bargain restaurant one night. The next night, when the check came, he announced "Split 4 ways is the easiest." I had to borrow cash from another classmate to cover 'my' part of the bill.
posted by MichelleinMD at 10:37 AM on March 6, 2019

Thank you all!
posted by goofyfoot at 10:17 PM on March 25, 2019

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