I just returned from a beach holiday with two friends. We decided in advance of the trip to dial back expenses and split them equally. It worked well.
True, we had enormous advantage in that we were the (very delighted) guests of the owner of our beachfront condominium. And that she lived nearby and insisted upon hosting us for several dinners at her clubhouse.
So this is how we did it: we tossed all receipts into a kitchen drawer. The last day, I pulled them out to create an Excel file of total expenditures, with attribution. Then calculated amounts overpaid / underpaid by each traveler.
Best part of our plan: we never appropriated a dinner check; at each outing it was irrelevant who paid. Except the night we met up with a fourth friend on Marco Island for dinner, then we each put out cash when the check arrived. We also paid separately at the box office when we saw The Reader ($6 matinée). Here is how the rest of it came out:
Car rental - $473.74 (yikes, but best we could do, kayak.com)
Groceries - $47.81 (healthy eating at the condo)
More groceries - $2.00 (we forgot popcorn the first time)
Breakfast - $20.94
Ice cream - $8.00
Coffee - $16.05
Host gift - $73.48
Pizza - $15.98
Gas - $18.59
Grand Total Spent: $676.59, or $225.53 per traveler
Total paid by
Traveler A- $105.51
Traveler B - $87.34
Traveler C - $483.74
Then we evened up: Traveler A gave a check for $120.02 to Traveler C; Traveler B wrote check of $138.19 to Traveler C.
We can't wait to take another trip again. But Broke Girl, being broke, plans to stay home a spell.