The #1 App You Need for Traveling with Friends

By Hayley Braun | Travel Tips

See how to use the Splitwise app for sharing travel costs with friends.

Love traveling with friends, but hate when the time comes to split the bill?  Try using Splitwise!

Splitwise is one of the best non-travel apps that I have ever downloaded for travel.  It's a simple, but super powerful way to track shared expenses on vacation.  No more worrying about the awkward "who owes who" conversation!

What is Splitwise?

Splitwise is a free tool for easily tracking expenses, and keeping all of your shared bills in one place.  When it's time to pay each other back, Splitwise will calculate the "IOU" amount for you!  

The app can be accessed through an iPhone, Android, or the web.

Splitwise can be accessed from a phone application or via the web.

Splitwise accessed on the web

Splitwise for Travel Expenses

I got Splitwise to share expenses between my roommates, but it didn't take me long to realize how useful it is for travel.  Here's just a few of the many times where it can help you out when traveling in a group:

  • Splitting the bill at a restaurant. It's pretty uncommon outside of the U.S. to find a restaurant that'll split your table's tab four ways. 
  • Dividing up gas or other transportation costs (taxis, Ubers, etc). 
  • Shared hotel or accommodation costs.  (BONUS TIP:  Check out Splitwise's Travel "Fairness Calculator" to decide how to split costs when each person has a different # of nights stay.)
  • Groceries and other supplies (paper towels, trash bags, toilet paper, etc) if you're staying in a rented home. 
  • Shared alcohol. Bring on the beer buckets! But really, a shared bottle of wine to watch the sunset is a must. ‚Äč
  • Buying tickets in a group. This way you can get seats together at all the best events, and make the whole ticket-buying process easier. 
  • Loaning money. Maybe this is just me, but in Europe we would "spot each-other 10 euros" all the time when there were no ATMs around. 
  • ...and more!

How to Use Splitwise

1.  Download the Splitwise App

Download the Splitwise app on iOS, Android, or visit the website here.  

Get set up by creating a group, and inviting your travel companions to join Splitwise. 

Some basic menu options in the Splitwise app are shown below:

The main menu on Splitwise and how to use some of the app features.

2.  Start adding your expenses

To add a new bill or expense, click "plus" icon in the bottom middle of the screen.

On the next screen (shown below), you can add your bill.

How to switch the currency and payment type using the Splitwise app.

Two of my favorite things that you can do when adding a new bill in Splitwise:

  • Switch the currency type.  This is SUPER helpful to keep track when the currency owed keeps changing. (For example: when you pay for a hostel with a credit card in U.S. Dollars, then use the local currency at dinner or a market).
  • Decide how a cost should be split among the group.  With this feature, you can choose to split a bill with just 3 of 4 people, or specify if one person owes less than the others. (You know, for your one friend who swears they didn't have a bite of the appetizer)

3.  "Settle Up" with cash or Venmo

How to Settle Up using the Splitwise App.

When it comes time to pay each other back, find the "Settle Up" button.

The "Settle Up" screen will then give you the option to either record a cash payment to clear your debts, or send a payment via Venmo.  Easy as that!

Favorite Feature:  Simplify Debts

One of the options when using Splitwise is the debt simplifications, or "Simplify Debts" feature (found under Advanced Settings).  This feature was implemented to reduce redundant payments, and can really simplify your pay-back train in bigger groups.

For example, if I owe my dad $5, and he owes my brother $5, I would just pay the $5 debt directly to my brother.  Just another way that this app leaves less time worrying about finances, and more time enjoying your trip!

What are your other must-have apps for traveling with friends? 

About the Author

I'm a recent Clemson engineering grad (go tigers!) and have been traveling for as long as I can remember. I've always loved exploring new places and meeting new people. I started travel blogging to be able to do more of what I love, and get to share it with the world!