This week: Help! My friend's trying to crash my honeymoon! Also, what to do when you'd rather stay in a hotel than with family.
Q: My friend (I'll call her Lucy) is trying to invite herself along on my honeymoon! I told her my fiancé and I are considering a particular cruise, and she said, "That sounds fabulous! I think I'll book it too." I said it's our honeymoon, and we'd kind of like some privacy, but she said she'd give us plenty of space - she just thinks it looks like fun.
I tried to make her understand, but she just said, "Fine, well then maybe I'll just book a cabin and not tell you. Then surprise, there I'll be, sitting at your table in the dining room. We'll have so much fun together!" She's been acting strange lately, and I honestly don't think she's kidding. Neither does my fiancé. But we can't exactly stop Lucy from booking, can we? There are plenty of open cabins on the ship. Help!
A: Wow. I don't blame you for being upset—Lucy sounds like she has big problems. Who the heck thinks it'd be fun to crash someone's honeymoon? And the whole "Fine, I'll surprise you" business is downright creepy.
No, you can't stop her from booking the same cruise you want to take. And something tells me that further attempts to reason with her aren't going to do much good.
I think your best option is to make sure Lucy doesn't know where you're going. It sounds like you haven't booked anything yet… when you do, don't tell anybody about your plans. (Notice I said "anybody." You can't only keep it a secret from her.
I know that's extreme, but I'm honestly getting a bit of a stalker vibe from this, so I think you should be extra careful—stalker types tend to be resourceful, unfortunately. You do not want this to turn into Single White Female on a boat.) When people ask, just tell them you'll send them a postcard. Or do what a friend of mine did - turn over all of the honeymoon planning to your fiancé, so you don't know your destination until you arrive at the airport. Then you can honestly tell Lucy, "We thought it'd be fun if he surprised me - I haven't the foggiest idea where we're going, just that it'll be hot and I'll need a bathing suit." Good luck!
Q: My cousin lives in a city I'm scheduled to take a business trip to next month. She invited me to stay with her. The problem is, I just really like staying in hotels on business - it's a nice break from my day-to-day life as a mom of three. My friend has two kids of her own, so it wouldn't exactly be relaxing, and plus, she lives in the suburbs and my meetings are downtown. How do I tell her no, though, in a way that doesn't sound snobbish?
A: Blame your job. Maybe you have other colleagues in town, and you're all staying at the same hotel, or maybe you have meetings from 8 a.m. till 10 p.m.—I'm sure there's something that would be a legitimate and understandable excuse. (In other words, don't go into the "I just really like staying in hotels" stuff. I understand where you're coming from, but your cousin would probably be rather insulted.) Thank her profusely for offering her hospitality, say you wish you could have accepted, and then make plans to meet up with her for drinks or dinner while you're in town. That way, you'll reassure her that you're not just trying to avoid seeing her.
Lesley Carlin has been writing about travel and etiquette professionally for more than 10 years. As one of the Etiquette Grrls, she is the co-author of "Things You Need to Be Told" and "More Things You Need to Be Told" (Berkley). Have a travel etiquette question of your own? E-mail Lesley at firstname.lastname@example.org.