Jan. 15, 2010 -- Q: My sister wants to rent a cabin in upstate New York with my other sister and me, my husband and our daughter. She thinks I should pay 60% of the rent and she and my other sister should pay 20% each. I don't want to sound cheap, but I don't think that's fair—I think it should be divided evenly. What say you?
A: This is a bit tricky to comment on without knowing more about the cabin itself. With a rental, I think it's mostly about how the bedrooms are divided up. If there are three bedrooms of roughly even size, and your sisters will each have one while you, your husband and daughter share the third, then I think each of them should pay 1/3 and you should pay 1/3 to cover all three of you.
If they share one room and the three of you share one, they each owe 25% and your family owes 50%. If it's the kind of cabin that's one big room, and each person's in a bunk, I think the 60-20-20 split your sister suggested is appropriate.
The most important thing, though, is to resolve this now, before anyone makes firm plans. You don't want to be miles away from nowhere, deep in the woods, and get in a huge family squabble about how to split the bill—that sounds like the plot of a horror movie.
Q: Is it ever okay to take your shoes off on a plane? I remember that back in the day, some airlines gave you slippers on overnight flights, so I assume it used to be, but I don't know if that's still true.
A: Sure, as long as you are absolutely certain you're not violating any airplane rules (security policies have been changing so frequently lately that I wouldn't be surprised if some airline bans this) and you are positive your feet don't stink. If you have even the slightest suspicion they are, shall we say, fragrant, keep your shoes on. Breathing recirculated airplane air is bad enough already—please don't make it worse.
Privacy on Planes: Dealing With Nosy Passengers
Q: If you're doing work on your computer on a plane, how do you deal with other passengers who have wandering eyes? More than once I've been working on a confidential PowerPoint and suddenly noticed the person sitting beside me was looking at it too. I think that's extremely rude. What should I do?
A: For starters, you should keep confidential things confidential. Yes, it's incredibly annoying when the person next to you brings one gossip magazine for a 5-hour flight, finishes it, and decides to have a peek at what you're doing, but if you're looking at a confidential PowerPoint on a plane, you're way more out of line than your seatmate. What if the guy next to you works for your company's biggest rival? Put the sensitive stuff away until you're in private; if you don't, you're just asking for trouble.
Now, if you're just reading your own gossip magazine, and you catch the person next to you reading along with you, you have the right to be a little miffed. In the big scheme of things, though, this is hardly on the level of sitting beside someone with horrendous B.O. or someone with the flu who sneezes all over you. Glance up from your magazine, look right in their eyes, say, "Oh, hello," and then tilt your magazine a tiny bit away from them. They'll get your point.
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.