How to avoid screwing up a friendship when travelling together?
May 11, 2008 10:00 PM   Subscribe

I'm going on a 3 week vacation with a close friend. How do I avoid screwing up the friendship on the trip?

I have been best friends with "Samantha" for the last two years. We have planned a 3 week trip to Europe together with both our boyfriends.

I care for this friend deeply, and she has many wonderful qualities. However, she seems easily offended by small gestures that aren't meant to offend. Also, both of us tend to avoid confrontation, so things can build up to a crisis before the brakes are applied.

We've gotten off on the wrong foot already. She had said that she was really looking forward to flying in to the European city together. She also said that they strongly prefer to travel on one specific airline. The difference in ticket price was $1000 for me and my boyfriend. That's a lot of money for me. I didn't explain myself directly, but bought discount tickets on another airline. A few weeks later, she told me that she was quite angry and disappointed with me because of it.

Now I feel like I'm walking on eggshells. I don't know what will anger or disappoint her next.

Questions:

1. Has anyone been in this situation before? How did you deal with it?

2. Was I "unreasonable" in not spending an extra $1000 to get on the flight she was on?

3. They like hotels that are over $200 a night. I prefer hotels that are less than $100 a night. Do I just suck it up for the sake of friendship?

Some more information:
- I've tried to address the issue of money with her. She asked about my finances and then said "well, you don't have anything to worry about."

- I'm open to the concept that perhaps I'm too cheap in social situations, and that I should relax the pursestrings a bit to appear more hospitable in social situations. I'm working on it, really I am. However, I am just deeply, personally uncomfortable spending money on $100/plate dinners and $200/night hotels. I "run with" upper-side-of-middle-class yuppies so maybe I need to pony up more often?

- This is not the trip of a lifetime for these friends. They go on foreign trips two to three times a year and this is their style of travel.

- I've asked a couple of guy friends about this, and they both said relax and do whatever makes my friend happy.

Any words of advice you can spare would be much appreciated!!!
posted by ebellicosa to Human Relations (38 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wow. Somebody who insists you spend $1000 more just to be on the same plane? No wonder you're having second thoughts.

If you ask me, this trip should be about you and your boyfriend going where you want to go and when, and meet up with them when .. well, when they feel like it. If they don't, you're better off without them. She's a control freak who prefers you to feel embarrassed and out of place in social situations, probably so you are more dependent on her.

Your guy friends are wrong. Maybe they've done "whatever makes my [girl]friend happy" and it's worked for them. But I can't imagine they'd put up with this kind of BS from a guy friend.
posted by dhartung at 10:06 PM on May 11, 2008 [8 favorites]


I'd bail out. Now.
posted by the Real Dan at 10:07 PM on May 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Don't spend your vacation catering to the whims of your friend - you'll only end up not having a good time because you're worried about the money, AND out a ton of cash.

It's your vacation, too. IMO: You should explain your feelings to your friend, and if she is a true friend she will understand.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:10 PM on May 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh, my. This does not sound like a very fun trip. Perhaps you should focus on spending most of the time with your boyfriend, rather than rigidly stick to a itinerary that calls for all of you to be together all of the time.

Don't sink yourself into debt because you're too afraid to openly discuss your financial situation. You need to set boundaries with her. If she's a safe person, she will respect those boundaries and your honesty. If she's not a safe person, she will pout, be cruel, or find some sort of passive-aggressive way of conveying her dissatisfaction with you.

Be careful with this person. Some friendships can't withstand vacations together. Spending a highly concentrated amount of time with someone is certain to strengthen a relationship or cause toxic qualities to quickly surface.
posted by HotPatatta at 10:16 PM on May 11, 2008


If this is the sort of friendship that a mere 3-week vacation would screw up, I wouldn't worry too much about losing the friend. Remember that vacations are supposed to be a good time. If you wish to put some effort into preventing a blowup, I would discuss your financial expectations regarding the trip now...before you cross the Atlantic. If she is a good friend, she would understand and not be demanding of you. Perhaps if she wants to travel at that level of expense, she can afford to treat you.
posted by Asherah at 10:19 PM on May 11, 2008


It's totally reasonable for you to have wanted to save $1000 on what will be your single biggest expense of the trip.

You also should feel completely comfortable setting a budget you're comfortable with and sticking to it. This probably won't be news to you, but with the dollar where it's at these days Europe is shockingly expensive so you should feel no guilt or shame in being budget conscious.

I've travel abroad with someone similar (petty, misaligned expectations) and it was not at all sucked; eventually I bailed on them and went solo. I'd suggest you and your boyfriend be clear about what you want out of the trip for the two of you and be prepared to do your own thing if you're not having great fun.

But I wouldn't just wait for that to happen, you should talk--or perhaps write a note--to your friend and explain how you feel about things, otherwise it's just gonna simmer and then boil over. Or, alternatively, you'll avoid confronting her and have a craptastic time on what should be an amazing trip.
posted by donovan at 10:20 PM on May 11, 2008


this sounds like it's going to be bad without some rules in place now.

i definitely suggest staying in a different hotel, and planning you and your boyfriend's itinerary in advance -- aka NOW. that way, you can ask her if she/they are interested in joining your daily plans, and if not, then you will catch them later for a drink or something.

if you are afraid to confront her about the $$ issue and they travel that much anyway, just explain your actions away as "newbies". Say you don't want to bother them with the things she/they've probably seen already, and call it a day.
posted by jazzybelle at 10:23 PM on May 11, 2008


However, I am just deeply, personally uncomfortable spending money on $100/plate dinners and $200/night hotels. I "run with" upper-side-of-middle-class yuppies so maybe I need to pony up more often?

Yup. If you're going to play with yuppies then $100/plate dinners and $200/night hotels are par for the course. Expecting them to live down to your chosen level isn't going to be comfortable for anyone.

One of the great pleasures of traveling with cash to spare is staying in the center of things and prioritizing experience before expense. If you're going to spend the whole time worrying about how much money you're spending you'll be personally miserable and you'll also be a miserable travel companion.

When I've done this in the past I've come up with a ballpark number for what I think it will cost... about $500/day for your trip, I'd guess ... counted the money spent and gone and enjoyed myself. It's fun if you can afford it: if you can't, then it probably goes without saying that you should be doing it.
posted by tkolar at 10:30 PM on May 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


uh, "shouldn't be doing it."
posted by tkolar at 10:32 PM on May 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


To be fair, she deserves to be slightly mad because you booked tickets for a different airline instead of being straightforward and telling her you couldn't afford the extra $1000. But if this already warrants an AskMefi question, then it'll likely only get worse. Bail.
posted by theiconoclast31 at 10:36 PM on May 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't mean to be rude, but it sounds like your situation is the result of high expectations and poor planning.

What is there to do in terms of planning a trip to Europe with your friends other than deciding where you will stay together, what sights you will see together, and what kind of food you will try out together?

I'm sure this is what your friend is thinking, the root of her disappointment.

And by not being straightforward about your financial considerations, you create an opportunity for misunderstanding. I think it's unreasonable for you to expect someone to give you the benefit of the doubt when you are independently making decisions that fly in the face of what most people would qualify as "traveling together", and that you aren't being forthcoming about your reasons for doing so. That naturally creates some hostility.

I recommend that you take the advice to relax and be happy not only during the trip, but in the planning of the trip. Try being honest. Let the other person meet you half way.

And truthfully, this is not about meeting your friend's expectations of what is proper traveling. This is about four people with different backgrounds and means deciding to share an experience together. Personalities aside, this is totally doable. Give your friend a chance to hammer out a solution with you based on good information. If it doesn't work out, at least you know before you hop on a fucking plane.
posted by phaedon at 10:41 PM on May 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I would do like others have suggested and go with what my budget allowed and meet up with the friend when the opportunity arises.

One thing I would note, however, is that if you do end up at different hotels and your's is significantly cheaper than her hotel, she might get upset if you're benefiting from the perks of her expensive hotel. For example, if frequently use the pool/workout room/hot tub/tennis court privileges that she is paying for, she might resent the fact that you're reaping most of the benefits she's paying extra for.

I'm not saying a good friend would feel such resentment, but it's something to keep in mind
posted by chndrcks at 10:43 PM on May 11, 2008


Seconding phaedon. You need to be able to talk with her about this now, not just do what you want and then surprise her with it. Is she being inconsiderate? Maybe. But not talking to her is your own responsibility. I understand that she's touchy, but I guess that's the price of admission here -- dealing with her touchiness.
posted by amtho at 10:45 PM on May 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think now that you saved 1000$ on the plane ticket you should be able to spend the saved money on all the other fancy expenditures. Try to enjoy yourself. If you can't afford to spend money you probably shouldn't be on vacation much less with someone who has expensive taste.
posted by zephyr_words at 11:13 PM on May 11, 2008


You two are mismatched completely. There's no point ruining your vacation and spending a truckload of cash on things you don't want. Do what dhartung recommends: take a trip with your boyfriend alone and meet up a couple of times somewhere.

I've asked a couple of guy friends about this, and they both said relax and do whatever makes my friend happy.

Easy for them to say; it's not their money. If it were a matter of a few bucks here and there, I'd agree. But an extra $1000 on a plane ticket? C'mon!
posted by madman at 11:14 PM on May 11, 2008


1. I have not been in this situation before.
2. No, you were not unreasonable. An "extra" $1,000. No, you were not unreasonable.
3. Don't suck it up. It's your vacation, too.

Have fun. Do what you want to do. You and your boyfriend have a ball and live within your budget. Is Samantha really your best friend? Vacations are supposed to be fun. You shouldn't be having this much anxiety. You are not too cheap in social situations, you are smart to be aware of your finances and realistic about what you can comfortably afford. Talk openly with Samantha before the trip and just be honest and tell her what you just told us. If she's your best friend, she'll understand. If she doesn't understand, well....you know.
posted by wv kay in ga at 11:27 PM on May 11, 2008


I've travelled several times with friends who are on larger and smaller budgets. Money is a bitch to have to discuss on vacation -- avoid it at all costs.

Everytime, we've usually just gone our separate ways on hotels. It's a good time to separate and get out of each other's hair. Three weeks is a lot of time to spend around another couple.

The airline thing seems to be her own issue -- it's great to chat during the flight, but we always chose the cheapest flight in that case. Other transportation costs we always shared equally.

Food-wise, I would say to be open to splurge a little. And also be exploring. If your friend is only eating at the hotels, put some initiative into it and look for other places to eat that happen to be cheaper. Don't bring money into it, only the exploration.

All-in-all, I would say that you shouldn't feel pressured to spend money. Step out on your own for a bit if something really is too steep. But you have to show the initiative in that, and not just whine that it's too expensive and you all need to go somewhere else. If that's not cool with your friend, then it sounds like she's a control freak -- you must do what she wants, no matter your preference -- and that's a different question entirely.
posted by FuManchu at 11:34 PM on May 11, 2008


The issue of money itself should not be a big deal. You have every right to spend or not spend money according to your preference. But the problem is how you dealt with it: avoiding the issue and not discussing things early, openly, and coming to a compromise. Little problems left to the last minute always turn into big problems. Your friend should understand your preferences but she can only do that if you communicate them to her better.
posted by randomstriker at 12:03 AM on May 12, 2008


Your budget is your business. Figure out what you're comfortable with (including the things you're willing to compromise on -- say, you're willing to spend on fancier dinners by doing the old bread/cheese/fruit from a market routine for lunch), and stick to it.

Having said that, it's your responsibility to explain this -- directly, calmly, and non-defensively -- to your friend, so that she understands the alternative arrangements you will be making. Note that I did not say that you should ask for your friend's permission or approval. She may very well not "approve." She may try to convince you (either directly or passive-aggressively) to spend the extra money, regardless of your financial situation. If so, this will say an awful lot about her, and not much about you.

Communication is a big part of friendship; so is mutual respect. If you communicate honestly with her and she still doesn't respect your situation, then the ruination of the friendship isn't on your shoulders.

And Europe is there to be enjoyed by you and your boyfriend, regardless of what Samantha does. Have a ball!
posted by scody at 12:22 AM on May 12, 2008


(note: I don't mean that you should get "old bread/cheese" from the market... just that the routine of dining on bread/cheese/fruit from the market is an old, reliable method of eating whilst traveling without spending a ton of money!)
posted by scody at 12:25 AM on May 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's necessary to spend hundreds to be polite and avoid upsetting your friend, but I think you need to have a conversation, because things like making alternative travel arrangements (on a group holiday) without discussion are definitely impolite and guaranteed to upset, and it seems like you'd avoid real conflict easier by just having a chat about it first.

Were there specific things you talked about when you decided to plan the holiday? Like, was it about sunset over Pretty City, or was it about the restaurants, etc? It seems pretty important to figure out if the things that came up then are still possible if you do put your foot down, because otherwise you'll likely have a miserable, compromised holiday where you all simmer in resentment in your separate hotels, rather than a fun trip that accommodates everyone. Also, you probably know what Samantha and her boyfriend like to do on holiday, and if it's not your scene and Samantha's unaware that it bothers you, it would be good to discussion your expectations and limits now too - jazzybelle's advice seems pretty great on that.
posted by carbide at 1:39 AM on May 12, 2008


Say this to your friend.

"We have different budgets and different priorities, and if this is going to work, we either need to come up with some compromises we both can live with or agree to go our separate ways during certain times."

If you can't say that, she's not a good enough friend to travel with, and if you can, go for it.

However, I am just deeply, personally uncomfortable spending money on $100/plate dinners and $200/night hotels.

Are you willing to spend three weeks being deeply, personally uncomfortable?

This is not the trip of a lifetime for these friends. They go on foreign trips two to three times a year and this is their style of travel.

If you're traveling together why is it their style and not yours?

I've asked a couple of guy friends about this, and they both said relax and do whatever makes my friend happy.

Unless she has the same guy friends saying the same thing, this is going to be a very one-sided trip.

You keep saying you need to "suck it up" or "pony up" or "relax". I think you don't. I think you need to consider whether your friend is also willing to "suck it up" and stay in a cheap hotel or "relax" and take separate flights. If not, this will not end well.
posted by mmoncur at 2:26 AM on May 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Not addressing you points one by one, but having been in similar situations and peering into my crystal ball reveals that you will not be friends after this trip.
posted by fixedgear at 2:46 AM on May 12, 2008


It is very difficult to travel with someone who has different ideas about travel budget.

You need to make extremely clear to her what you exact budget situation is, while also accomodating to her. "I can eat an expensive (and define expensive) dinner every 4 days. But that will require soup and sandwiches for lunch." Also, "I can only spend $X on a hotel room. I've researched it and these are my options: X, Y, and Z."

YOU need to be in control of your own destiny. These friends may have travelled to Europe before, but you need to get on the Internet and go to the library and start looking through travel guides so that you know exactly what the hotel and food situation is in each city you're going to visit. There are certainly places to eat that are good and affordable and YOU need to become the expert in that topic.

Unfortunately, this conversation should have happened before your trip was purchased. I have never travelled with people with significantly larger budgets than me, but perhaps it is because I assume that everyone wants to be at least a little frugal while travelling.

Also, with the dollar SUCKING, everything in Europe seems/is more expensive right now.

Personally, I'd break away from her while traveling and meet up for meals occasionally.
posted by k8t at 3:19 AM on May 12, 2008


The difference in ticket price was $1000 for me and my boyfriend. That's a lot of money for me. I didn't explain myself directly, but bought discount tickets on another airline. A few weeks later, she told me that she was quite angry and disappointed with me because of it.

Get better friends. You don't need to spend your holiday being pushed to spend more than you're happy to by a control freak drama queen.

If I were in your situation, I would have done exactly what you did, and any of my friends would have been fine with that.

If she's not disappointed enough to pay the difference herself, she has no reasonable basis for anger.
posted by flabdablet at 3:24 AM on May 12, 2008


Cancel. Before you spend any more money.

I have vacationed twice with our best friends (one was best man at our wedding). Mismatched travel expectations can quickly spiral and leave everyone miserable.

If you do want to go on this trip still, you need to have a few meetings. Will you be spending day times together? Will you meet up for dinner every night? Will they be ok if you grab a dorm somewhere or share with you to bring down the cost? What do you actually want to do on this trip? I do think you were in the wrong to book a flight without checking with your friend - you should have let her know you were taking a different option. But she shouldn't have booked before checking the budget with you either. When I've travelled with friends we've always discussed this part of the trip at length to find something that suits everyone.

We're still best friends with the people we travelled with, but we are adamant that we will never travel with them again.
posted by wingless_angel at 4:27 AM on May 12, 2008


I live in Europe (Budapest) and have seen a lot of visitors from the US or Canada come through in larger groups and leave as much smaller groups...

Your friend sounds a bit high maintanance - that's OK for the domestic playing field, but not for the three weeks abroad. You'll go nuts (or broke) before she will. Fly to Europe separately, and take your vacations separately, but suggest that you can meet up for a fun weekend and probably that should be enough for you. If you travel together for three weeks you WILL have a blow-up and breakdown of your friendship, and doing that while on the road together in a foreign place with logistics and lodgings booked together will definately ruin everybody's idea of a relaxing vacation.

I have a lot of "yuppie" friends and they all know I don't make or spend as much as they do. Our friendship is based on sharing experiences, not dinner checks.
posted by zaelic at 5:05 AM on May 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Last month I took a trip to Italy with a few other people that turned out to be a pretty big case of Mismatched Expectations. You have the same right to stay in a $20 hostel bed that they do to have a $300 suite - in my case, we just ended up going to different cities for half of the trip and meeting up later, which worked out for everyone.

Invest in some cell phones that'll work in Europe so it isn't a Big Problem to stay in different hotels. You'll probably have to bite the dinner bullet, though.
posted by soma lkzx at 5:52 AM on May 12, 2008


I don't think it's necessary to bail out. Talk to her and lower the expectations. It doesn't sound like there has been much planning yet so changes are in order. By all means travel separately, stay in different rooms, maybe even different hotels. See different sights in different towns. Plan to meet up for dinner a few times or at the beach to compare notes. Even with my girlfriend there are times when we need to split up for alone time. Hell, even due to different vacation schedules and to take advantage of frequent flyer miles with another airline I am flying to Europe separately from the girlfriend. Vacations are more often than not, very stressful.
posted by JJ86 at 5:55 AM on May 12, 2008


Am I wrong in detecting that you have a little shame and discomfort about the budget disparity? There's nothing wrong with what you did in booking the other ticket or in wanting to book different hotels and keep a smaller food budget. That's you taking care of yourself and living within your means. The odd thing is that you are uncomfortable talking to her about it. If you really want to keep "running with yuppies" who have more comfort with spending, you will either need to get more assertive about what your budget allows, or risk being socially pressured into financially compromising situations.

We never know much about other people's money. I have one friend who travels frequently and spends profligately and exerts the same kind of pressure - high-end dinners, especially. But because she's a close enough friend, I know that she also has $20,000 in credit card debt and her house is mortgaged to the hilt. I don't want her spending habits. My priorities are totally different. I love travel but for the most part, traveling low-to-the-ground brings more rewarding experiences for me. If your friends are your friends, they'll be able to understand and respect your financial choices and find the points where you can get together and make it work.

For me, working in a field with a lot of trustafarians and people from far more affluent backgrounds, I've had to learn to get a lot more upfront and unashamed about saying "That's a bit of a splurge for me," or "That's not in the travel budget this year," or "I'd love to - maybe we can look at next year because I've done a lot of traveling this year and am tapped out for it." I'm working toward buying a house, so that's that - it's an honorable goal and one I'll never reach if I let people intimidate me into spending I can't do. Something to think about.

By the way, traveling with friends is already especially intense...if you anticipate a money problem, pile that on top of the problems you can definitely expect: differences in expectations, routine, body rhythms, mealtimes, priorities (museum or shopping? Beach or hike?), annoying habits, etc. Time apart is necessary for successful travel with friends. Those who suggest booking a parallel but affordable trip, then planning certain activities together, are right on - not just for financial reasons, but to preserve mental health for all.
posted by Miko at 6:27 AM on May 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Lots of good advice above. I second being upfront with your friend in advance of the trip about how much you can spend. Check on the value of the euro off and on before the trip so you know how much will be coming out of your bank account for each hundred euros you spend. Figure out how much you can afford to spend, tell your friend it's somewhat less, and you'll have a built-in cushion.

You and your boyfriend should come up with a list of what you want to do and see and ask the other couple for the same, then wherever your lists match, that's something you do together. The rest you do apart and plan to meet later on. Getting together once or twice a day sounds about right.

A restaurant's lunches are always cheaper than their dinners, so lunch might be the time for the four of you to meet for a good meal.

Paris is full of less expensive pleasures. You'll have a wonderful time. Wear comfortable shoes.
posted by sevenstars at 6:30 AM on May 12, 2008


Has anyone been in this situation before? How did you deal with it?

I traveled with someone with totally different expectations from the rest of the group before. I wish that we hadn't.

Was I "unreasonable" in not spending an extra $1000 to get on the flight she was on?

No, but it sounds like you might have been a bit more assertive about it before she made her reservations.

I've tried to address the issue of money with her. She asked about my finances and then said "well, you don't have anything to worry about."

Your spending habits are your own to decide. If you made more money than her, you would still be justified in choosing to spend less if that's what you wanted.

I agree with what other people say about planning essentially separate trips and meeting up as convenient.
posted by grouse at 6:34 AM on May 12, 2008


However, she seems easily offended by small gestures that aren't meant to offend.

As someone who can get offended about what others perceive to be small things, I will suggest this interpretation of your friend's reaction to you ticket purchases: She isn't so much disappointed that you want to travel more cheaply than she does, she's upset that she had already stated her preference and instead of telling her about it (not getting her permission, just informing her about it) you went ahead and bought tickets that would make sure that you're on different planes. If I was your friend, I'd be upset because you didn't think enough of me to let me now that my notions of going on an extended double-date in Europe were totally missing the mark.

If she wants to do everything together, and you just want to have a European vacation at the exact same time as your friend's European vacation, then you need to talk soon about what exactly you want to be doing.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:51 AM on May 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


You avoiding conflict is causing these problems as much as her being freespending and touchy. You absolutely have to have the discussion with her about how much you have in your budget to spend on this trip, and work out compromises on how you can spend it and still have a good time together.

There are different ways to compromise on this stuff. Maybe you stay in different hotels. Maybe you stay in cheap hotels during the week and expensive hotels on the weekends. Maybe you just find mid-price hotels for the whole trip.

Similarly with meals, maybe you eat included breakfasts and market lunches and then be willing to have nice dinners, with a blowout dinner once a week. Or maybe you agree to go to the really awesome places for lunch (really awesome places are still awesome at lunch, but they're generally half the price). Or maybe you eat frugally all week and blow it out on weekends. Or maybe she has some romantic dinners alone with her boyfriend at the really expensive places.

All of this stuff needs to be decided in advance. Not done on the sly because you can't face her. Not left until you're actually standing in the middle of Rome going 'I can't possibly afford to stay at the Hassler, I've booked in at the youth hostel.' Worked out between the two of you with compromises on both sides.

But also figure out how much of your budget issue is genuine financial problems and how much of it is middle class guilt. Because it sounds like you might be morally offended by the idea of spending so much on travel, and you're not going to be able to go through these negotiations with your friend without a judgmental tone if that's the case, and she'll have every right to be offended.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:21 AM on May 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I find it's a lot easier to say, "My budget for ABC is $X" than, "Well, that airfare is more than I want to spend." There's less room for negotiation and it makes it clear that you are taking a cheaper route because you are trying to stay within budget, rather than you are just being cheap.

And as others have said, if you had told her upfront about the tix, she probably wouldn't have gotten as upset. I think you should be upfront from this point forward to manage expectations. Dancing around the issue is only going to make it worse.

I am against the idea of automatically ponying up more often because of the crowd you run with. That's how people get into debt in the first place. Spending the extra $100/night on a room will run you over $2,000, which must be substantial if you are taking cheaper flights to save $1,000 in the first place. Factoring in the $100/plate meals makes it even worse. If you want to spend money on those things because you enjoy them or they are important to you, fine. If you're only doing it because your friends do and you can't afford it, that just sounds like a recipe for disaster (particularly, as Miko states, as your friends may be in debt themselves). You can still do nice things, but if you are concerned about your budget, do them less often.

BTW, it was totally out of line of her to A-ask about your finances and B-judge that you were overreacting. Everyone spends their money differently.
posted by ml98tu at 11:06 AM on May 12, 2008


There are two issues here.

1. It seems your friend is a little pushy with you. It's not her decision to evaluate your finances and determine what you can afford.

My advice for dealing with this is you need to figure out exactly how much you'd be comfortable spending if it was just you and your BF. Then determine how much more you'd be willing to pay in an effort to compromise. Then have a conversation with your friend explaining your situation/thoughts/feelings. Tell her the max you'd be comfortable spending if it was just you and your BF, but let her know that you might be able to compromise if she was willing to as well. At this point just stick to your predetermined compromise max and accept that there will be a few activities that you all will likely have to do separately to maintain your daily budget.

(I'm going to make an assumption that you didn't explain yourself directly regarding picking a cheaper flight in hopes of avoiding confrontation.)
2. By not explaining your decision in hopes of avoiding confrontation, you've hurt your friend's feelings and exposed yourself to an even greater confrontation. She doesn't understand and you kinda went behind her back by not talking to her about it.

Let me start by saying there is nothing wrong with your choice. You just should have let her know about your it before you did it. However, it is not your job to go along with her choice of airline. If you talk about it ahead of time, you can explain that the $1,000 cost is a big deal and that you can't justify the cost. PERIOD. At that point it is your friend's decision what is more important to her, their preferential airline or riding with you.

It takes two to compromise, otherwise it's just giving in.
posted by JakeLL at 11:33 AM on May 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks to all for very helpful and thoughtful responses.

To summarize, the most common sentiments were:
- This will not end well. Bail now!
- This might be salvaged. Communicate early and often.
- Set a budget and stick to it. Be up front about limits and don't apologize.

Also helpful were
- Consider not letting middle-class guilt stand in the way of enjoying life and unique experiences.
- Little things left to the last minute become big things.
- Don't let the drama in.

We've already got hotels booked for week one and week three. Based on the advice here, I'm going to propose that we travel separately for week two, which happens to be their fancy beach resort week anyway. I've also set a daily budget and will have a talk about it.

This has been a great learning experience. Thanks for your help!
posted by ebellicosa at 2:22 AM on May 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


- Consider not letting middle-class guilt stand in the way of enjoying life and unique experiences.

It's only "middle-class guilt" and contemptible if the money it holds you back from spending would ultimately be devoted to morally equivalent expenditures. But there's nothing wrong with deciding to save money, even on something as purposively self-indulgent as a pleasure trip, in order to put it to societally beneficial use. "Unalleviated consciousness of negativity holding fast to the possibility of what is better," in Adorno's phrase, can be a potent force for good in the world.
posted by Cucurbit at 8:08 PM on May 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


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