5 free apps to help make vacationing with friends easier 

Jörg Carstensen | Picture Alliance | Getty Images 

The last thing you want to do when you get home from an epic vacation with friends is spend time logging receipts into a spreadsheet to calculate each person's share of the costs. And as it turns out, you don’t have to anymore.

While the solo travel trend is on the rise, about two-thirds of millennials say they plan to travel with friends and family this year. But planning a group trip can be a headache — especially when it comes to divvying up the expenses.

Before you start planning anything, make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to the general itinerary and budget. "Having an overall idea of what you’re each planning to spend on travel, meals and lodging means everyone can enjoy the trip without worrying about finances," according to the etiquette experts at the Emily Post Institute.

That’s where downloading a good travel app can help alleviate the stress. But since there are tens of thousands of iOS and Android travel apps, CNBC Make It has narrowed down the top five you need on your phone if you’re planning to travel with a group.

Kayak Trip Huddle

Courtesy Kayak 

Availability: mobile-responsive website

iTunes/Google Play Rating: 4.8, 4.5, respectively

The next time your friends start planning a trip together, use Kayak’s new Trip Huddle tool to make decisions more democratic. The tool allows you to pick out a few destinations and then gives everyone in your group the chance to vote on the location and the travel dates. Plus, Kayak will even surface some hotels and vacation rentals for your group to consider.

"That way, you’re spending less time reading through long email chains and group chats, and more time planning fun activities and dinner spots," the company says. Keep in mind that while Kayak has an app, this tool is available only through its mobile-responsive site.

Luna Moons

Courtesy of Luna Moon

Availability: mobile-responsive website

Already know when and where you want to go? While the site specializes in honeymoon and babymoon travel, Luna also makes sharing your travel plans with your friends easier. The site offers pre-designed itineraries from the professionals, but also offers a comprehensive planner tool.

Luna’s planner lets you create a day-by-day itinerary that anyone on the trip can easily share, access and edit. This allows you to split up the responsibility for planning each day of the trip. Luna's planner also gives suggestions for hotels and attractions based on the destination, so you can either select from their options or upload your own lodgings like Airbnb rentals or private tours. The ability to split payments on things like hotels is coming soon, according to a spokeswoman for the company.


Courtesy of Roadtrippers

Availability: iOS, Android, website

iTunes/Google Play Rating: 4.7, 3.7

Roadtrippers is great for those sharing driving duties while on vacation. This app allows you to collaborate with friends and family to find a route that works best, and also provides suggestions on stops and nearby attractions. The app also gives you estimates on how long each leg of the trip will take to drive, so you can figure out the best places to stop to switch drivers so no one is doing a majority of the driving.

"While this app is a little confusing to figure out, once we did it has turbo charged our family vacation," wrote Google Play Store reviewer Ben Niebuhr. "We are still on a week-long drive and have been able to add interesting things as we travel."


Courtesy of Tab

Availability: iOS, Android

iTunes/Google Play Rating: 4.6, 4.3

It’s tough when you’re out to dinner with a group and you need the split the check when everyone ordered different entrees and drinks. Tab gives users the ability to simply take a photo of the check and have everyone claim what they purchased. The app also factors in the tax and tip. Voila! No hard feelings when you’re forced to cover someone else’s three-drink habit.


Courtesy of Splitwise 

Availability: iOS, Android, website

iTunes/Google Play Rating: 4.5, 4.6

By the end of trip, it can be daunting to calculate who owes what. Splitwise makes it easy by keeping a running tally — so as soon as you get a bill or receipt, you can log it and split the costs. The app also integrates Venmo for easy payments. The only downside is that in order to convert any purchases made in foreign currencies to U.S. dollars, you're required to log onto the website.

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