Taking a trip or vacation with a friend is like a brief marriage; things look great the first few days and then some surprises come along that ruin it.
One big surprise is finding out your travel companion likes to spend a lot of money–his and yours. Waiting to split the bill at one of the best restaurants in Paris is not the time to find out about your companion’s excessive spending habits.
Here’s what to do to avoid a money clash during the vacation:
1. Establish from the outset that if your friend invites guests to dinner, he pays for them–not you. Some people not only like to go to fancy restaurants, but they also like to show off and invite others they meet along the way to come along. That’s fine, as long as your friend is responsible for them, especially the food and alcohol bill.
2. If your companion orders the best wine in the house, he pays for it; not both of you. Here’s where you have to think (or drink) on your feet. If you don’t intend to pay for the wine, don’t drink any.
3. If he’s a big tipper and you tip the average for where you’re dining, make it clear that he pays the extra if it means that much to him.
4. Explain that you don’t want–and can’t–always go to the best of everything, such as restaurants, shows, shops and extravagant tours. Let your friend see that there is another side to life which doesn’t have to wipe your wallet clean.
5. If your friend wants to treat you to something on the trip, that’s fine–as long as you don’t feel obligated to return the treat if you can’t.
Before you leave on the trip is the time to explain your financial situation frankly without feeling bad about it. At this point, you may wonder why you should even bother going with someone who spends a lot of money.
The reason: because it’s fun! In fact, the very reason why you could have problems with a big spender is the same as why it’s entertaining to go off with one. They’re up for a good time and usually want to make sure that anyone who accompanies them also enjoys him/herself, as well.
So if you spend a little time before the trip getting the money part worked out, you can plan on five-star fun with your big spender travel companion.
Ilene Springer lives and teaches EFL in Malta and is author of An-American-in-Malta.com.