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Friends, holiday - it seemed like a good idea at the time, but now I wonder.

(43 Posts)
Earlybird Wed 27-Feb-13 20:52:13

Dd and I are going on our first ever skiing holiday soon, and we are very excited. Typically our holidays consist of visiting friends, so this is a big event for us.

Through a family connection, I was able to rent a self catering chalet at a very good price (less than a price of a single room in the area lodges). The house is larger than we need (3 bedrooms), but the price/location are more than ideal. I've also arranged free ski equipment rental for myself/dd through an old school friend, and we have managed to borrow all the ski clothes we'll need. So, we have managed some good deals to defray some costs, as I know ski holidays are expensive.

As we we will have more bedrooms than we need, last week I asked a dear longterm friend (who now lives in another city) and her dh to join us. We have talked about getting together for a long time, and this could be a good opportunity.

My friend and her dh are fairly frugal as both have not worked for several years (by choice - they own two properties outright and have savings, so are not penniless by any means). Friend and i have agreed that I will pay chalet costs and she/her dh will do most of the cooking as they will not contribute financially (they both enjoy cooking, and he even recently considered training as a chef).

DD and I have made plans to do lots of fun things - skiing (with lessons), ice skating, cross country skiing, etc. I'm not sure my friend and her dh will want to join us (the money aspect, and she had shoulder surgery about 6 months ago), but there are other things they can do in the village to occupy themselves.

It is (obviously) fine if they don't join in with what we are doing, but I don't want to feel guilty about spending money and/or leaving them behind. She has already been snippy about sharing car rental costs, so I dread a week of us spending the way you do on holiday, and them being miserly and counting every penny.

Any suggestions about how to keep it a happy and harmonious holiday? I had imagined that this would be a lovely break for all of us, but my offer seems to have raised issues about money and how resentful she feels that I am not on as strict a budget.

EllaFitzgerald Wed 27-Feb-13 21:00:45

If they don't work by choice, then any resentment your friend has is not for you to worry about, it's their lifestyle choice.

But I do understand you wanting to keep things harmonious. Would it work if you gave her a list of what you have planned for each day, along with the costs, and tell her she's welcome to join you but you'll understand if her shoulder means that she's not up to it. That way, she won't feel like you're judging her finances and she has an excuse if the haven't got the cash.

DIYapprentice Wed 27-Feb-13 21:03:33

I think you need to be clear that although you've managed to get the costs for the holiday as low as you can, you have still saved for it and intend to be a little frivolous with money.

Say something like

'Both DD and I are really excited about this holiday, and about seeing you. But you need to know that although normally we are quite frugal, I've been saving for this and while I certainly can't throw money around, we will be going out and doing things that do cost money, things that we would normally do with our day to day budget. If you think that will be too difficult for you to see I will understand if you don't want to come along. I don't want to hurt you, but neither do I want to feel guilty for spending money on small treats for myself and for DD. If you do decide not to come I will fully understand and won't feel at all hurt by that.'

Whocansay Wed 27-Feb-13 21:06:09

"I terribly sorry, but there's been a mix up. The 'family connection' has also let the chalet to 'unspecified person', so there won't be room for you and dh. So sorry, I hope we can do it another time".

If they go with you, it will not end well.

I can't believe she's ALREADY being so ungrateful after being offered a free holiday. Her lifestyle choices are not your fault and you shouldn't have to subsidise her.

Earlybird Wed 27-Feb-13 21:10:33

Good suggestion.

Some of the tension comes from the fact that she thinks I have it 'easy' financially (for various reasons), and that creates tension between us. This 'frugality by choice' is fairly new for her, and i think she's ok with it most of the time (until she's reminded what she could be doing if she had more disposable income). And then the snippy comments and resentful attitude surface.

I don't want a tense holiday. And I also don't want to get dragged cafe to cafe because an item is £3 cheaper down the road (for instance).

PopeBenedictsP45 Wed 27-Feb-13 21:16:12

If you're already stressing about it now that is a very bad sign!

Have you been away/visited them since they became newly frugal?

Earlybird Wed 27-Feb-13 21:18:33

I emailed her to ask what sort of car we should look into renting, as I assume they might want to use it some if/when dd and I are off skiing. She wrote back that they'd 'chip in' if necessary, but hadn't planned on car rental costs because I told them the chalet is in the village and there is public transport. I did say that, but I've never been to this village! i've been told public transport is fine, but a car will be needed for any exploring and to go to the supermarket (for instance).

They also have booked the cheapest flights that arrive at 9.30 AM. Our flight arrives at 14.00. She has asked if we'll change to an earlier flight so they don't have to sit around the airport for hours. I don't want to do that because it would mean getting up at 3.30 AM for us. She isn't happy.

I wish I hadn't invited her.

PopeBenedictsP45 Wed 27-Feb-13 21:22:59

So are they planning to 'chip in' to get a ride with you from the airport to the village?

It doesn't sound like you can get out of it now they've booked their flights, if you cancelled there would be a huge fallout over the wasted flight money.

I suggest taking a deep breath and sending an email along the lines of what DIY wrote ... it's either that or let her domineer the situation with her frugal ways!

LemonPeculiarJones Wed 27-Feb-13 21:23:00

You are going to HAVE to talk to her about this before you go. Otherwise the whole holiday will be overshadowed by your annoying friend's chip on her shoulder about your different approach to finances.

Don't do it to yourself!

If she is snippy and resentful before you even get there, I'd be very tempted to back out of the offer. Anyone with that big a chip on her shoulder isn't going to leave it at home, even if you politely explain why you feel able to spend money a little more freely than usual.

The "sorry there's been a mixup" sounds like the best way to politely get out of it.

WipsGlitter Wed 27-Feb-13 21:25:25

Well maybe they don't want to go exploring, there'll be a shop in the village but you might want to do a big shop on your way there.

Have you been skiing before?

I'd be worrying about food costs - are you going to eat in the whole time?

Earlybird Wed 27-Feb-13 21:26:48

She was not this way in the earlier years of our friendship. Before she married and before i had dd, we took some absolutely lovely holidays together (Greece, Alaska, Turkey). But we were both working, unattached, and earning very nice salaries at that time.

She has not worked for 8 years, and her dh has not worked for 3 years. Both, by choice.

Earlybird Wed 27-Feb-13 21:28:30

I expect we'll eat in most of the time - but, maybe dd and I will have some lunches in the village. I expect that dd and I will be exhausted by the physical exertion, and won't feel like going out at night.

Earlybird Wed 27-Feb-13 21:30:33

I have been skiing before, many years ago. This will be dd's first time.

nilbyname Wed 27-Feb-13 21:31:27

op I think you need to give them an easy out and not go with them!

WipsGlitter Wed 27-Feb-13 21:32:08

But do you think they might expect you to pay for the food if they're going to prepare it? What about suggesting a kitty?

nilbyname Wed 27-Feb-13 21:32:52

Yes, ski resorts will be expensive and also wont have dead cheap hypermarkets (not that I have seen) so they might get a shock at the food costs?

I would re think the whole thing. Sounds horrendous.

BranchingOut Wed 27-Feb-13 21:35:44

The best approach would be:

Say that you will get to the chalet under your own steam, as your flights arrive at really different times. sorry, can't change flights now. Same for return to airport.

Each family will manage their own expenses during the week, as your needs are different.

You will meet all hire car expenses, if they don't want use of it. But you will give lifts if convenient.

Put some money in a kitty for milk, bread, cheese, cereal, loo roll etc.

If already arranged, they will organise cooking, but you and DD will help with it if needed.

Good luck and do still try to have a good time.

DontmindifIdo Wed 27-Feb-13 21:37:31

Mix up and now they can't come, you are very sorry and offer to refund their flights, it will be worth every penny....

"she thinks I have it 'easy' financially "
"She has not worked for 8 years, and her dh has not worked for 3 years. Both, by choice."

Ooh this would bug me - particularly if she wouldn't pay her way on the holiday, and made you feel guilty about doing what you wanted. Tell her if she's so hard up she can get a job!

Agree with the others - it would be better to get the discussions out of the way ASAP. You are very kindly offering them free accommodation - anything else is not your responsibility. And are you splitting food bills? The extra room doesn't cost you anything, but paying for their food would obviously.

"I emailed her to ask what sort of car we should look into renting, as I assume they might want to use it some if/when dd and I are off skiing."

Looks like if you go ahead, you ought to assume you are doing separate things and each paying for yourselves, and be specific about this. E.g. tell her, "We are renting a car for our family. If you want to use it as well we can split costs, if you don't want to, fine." As for the public transport issue - tell her to bloody well check it out herself in advance.

theoriginalandbestrookie Wed 27-Feb-13 21:41:24

Well they have already bought flights so I think it would be the end of the friendship if you tell them they can't come now, although they are cheaky to think that you should coincide your times with theirs.

For car hire, it sounds like you will have to hire one anyway so I'd either bite the bullet and pay for it all yourselves or charge them the difference between what you would need to hire to fit your family and what you need for the extra two people and a proportion of the petrol.

You and your DD will be out during the day skiing so you can do your own thing at lunchtime. For meals at the chalet you need to agree who is paying for the food - seems from your first post that you will be paying for it all - is that correct ? I'd be a bit concerned about that, will they want to use gourmet ingrediants? Will you end up paying for their lunch stuff even if you aren't in?

I'd send an email listing the stuff you plan to do with your daughter as suggested by Ella then they are prepared in advance and can join or not, but if she has had shoulder surgery then probably won't want to do too many physical things anyway.

Future Note to OP and self - do not plan holidays with friends unless you have done it successfully before. It always backfires.

teacher123 Wed 27-Feb-13 21:43:15

I would refund the flights. Worth every penny to me I think! Why don't they work (am nosey!)

BalloonSlayer Wed 27-Feb-13 21:44:50

Tell her she doesn't have to worry about waiting in the airport for you... she can use all that fab public transport to get to the chalet.

I would say that if you were going to hire the car anyway though you might need to suck that one up. Just make sure it's only in your name, tell them it was more money to have them put on the insurance and as they didn't want to contribute, ah well < shrug >

"although they are cheaky to think that you should coincide your times with theirs."

If your proposed flight times are so inconvenient for them, they should have checked with you first, shouldn't they?!

nkf Wed 27-Feb-13 21:51:09

I think, whatever you do, you've damaged a friendship. She's booked her flights. You're already feeling tense. I think calling her "miserly" is a bit mean.

deste Wed 27-Feb-13 21:53:40

Why should you change your flight, you are doing them a favour. If she wants to come on holiday she has to fit in with you. Either that they can hire their own car which you know they won't do. Have lunch up the mountain every day because you won't want to come all the way back, take your boots off only to set off again. Tell them what you have planned but tell them you will understand if they don't want to come. I would be falling over backwards if someone had offered me a holiday for the cost of a flight.

nkf Wed 27-Feb-13 21:59:20

I wouldn't go if I were the friend. I think being with people on expensive holidays when there is an income discrepancy could be really uncomfortable. I'd hate to feel judged because I was "watching the pennies." I'd rather stay home.

hillyhilly Wed 27-Feb-13 21:59:22

You won't need a car, you can get separate transfers from the airport and as they will be doing the food shopping, where they buy it and for how much, will be their problem. It is much cheaper to get down the mountain to a town to shop but that wastes valuable skiing time and it should be their problem not yours

nkf Wed 27-Feb-13 22:03:56

It sounds to me as if you both resent each other. I don't see why you invited someone where you experience tension.

MistyB Wed 27-Feb-13 22:04:08

Have a little song you hum in your head, when things become tense. Polish your halo at being so nice to offer someone a free holiday and bask in the glow. Don't let it be dimmed by your friends grumpiness.

Re car: send them the cost of ski transfer costs so they can compare the costs of the car.

Food: Could you stop off at a big supermarket on the way? Ask on the ski section and someone can point you in the direction of a supermarket between the airport and the resort.

FWIW, I think guest sometimes forget that you are doing them a favour and make suggestions / requests that are more appropriate to a travel agent than to a friend. It can sometimes help to make allowances for their thoughtlessness and hope they will be struck by their rudeness later. (Hopefully they will come to that realization before the holiday!!)

Have a stock phrase at hand (and perhaps a special face - 'are you fucking serious face' accompanied by an 'Oh, I don't think that would really work'.

Have a fab holiday and if your friends get into the swing of things, I hope they do to, if not, don't feel bad, it's them, not you!!

assumpta Wed 27-Feb-13 22:19:51

I'm afraid I can't see this ending well. We went with friends when our dds were only little. We were blessed as our dd always settled well wherever we went and wasn't phased with new places. Their dd didn't settle so easy which was not a problem for us, but as her mother had come along for babysitting and was next to our room, every time our dd was settled and sleeping she would literally SLAM her bedroom door shut to try and wake our dd. she was, of course, quite successful with this set up. We tried speaking to our friends about it, but it was a disaster. There was built up resentment for a few years, and things are still not right. Never again!

hillyhilly Tue 05-Mar-13 11:10:02

Op, please come back and let us know how it went.
I'm just back from skiing - fantastic, I hope you can enjoy it as much.

Earlybird Tue 05-Mar-13 18:37:32

Thanks to all for your advice.

I've purposely left this a few days to really think things through, and contemplate my options. I realise that since I invited my friend/her dh to join us, most of my thoughts have revolved around how to manage the situation so there is a minimum of conflict or upset. Rather than feeling happy that I can make something special possible for my friend/her dh (and we can enjoy each others' company), her comments and manner have made me feel anxious and apprehensive. And that is no way to anticipate a holiday.

I've played various scenarios through my mind, and know that an honest conversation about my concerns will not be received well. She will be furious/defensive/upset/hurt, and will lash out. I would gain nothing by going into the emotional side of this - and would be faced with an even more awkward situation with this concern 'out in the open'.

So, I have come to the conclusion that I will tell her that for various reasons, the trip is looking doubtful. I will say I am having second thoughts and can no longer commit. I will offer to cover any costs incurred if she is unable to get a full refund for the cancelled flights.

I want to enjoy myself with dd on this very special and long-awaited holiday, and don't want it to be spoilt. I feel tremendous relief that I will not be walking on eggshells all week. This whole experience has caused me to re-think the friendship.

WishIdbeenatigermum Tue 05-Mar-13 19:03:24

Good for you. I think you've made the right decision.
It may be the death knell for the friendship, but so would a tense holiday.

newbiefrugalgal Tue 05-Mar-13 19:21:29

I agree OP too many differences and problems now imagine once you actually arrive.

I hope you still go on your holiday??

Gingerandcocoa Tue 05-Mar-13 19:26:44

Definitely the right decision!!!! Good luck with the conversation, I hope she doesn't make it too painful for you.

ImperialBlether Tue 05-Mar-13 23:40:13

I'm so glad you came back to say that!

I was reading the thread feeling so sorry for you and your daughter. You were clearly so excited about the trip and it was so obvious that this couple were going to wreck it.

As soon as I saw they'd be cooking every evening, I wondered who would be paying for the food bill. If they are seriously frugal, the shopping trip for food would be very painful, given you want to treat yourselves.

I think you've realised the relationship is at an end anyway, so although yes, the cancellation will be the death knell of it, it's only hastening what was about to happen.

Think how awful it would have been if you were there and she was miserly and resentful. Cancel it and have a lovely time with your daughter. How old is she?

I'm glad you've decided that - and it sounds like you've come up with a reasonably polite way of crying off, which she will hopefully accept without getting snarky about it all. You might manage to continue the friendship, though tbh it sounds as if it has run its course and you no longer have enough in common for her to actually be a friend any more.

Either way, at least you won't have a miserable and tense holiday!

samuelwhiskers Wed 06-Mar-13 10:38:48

I read your post and didn't answer at the time but really pleased that you have seriously rethought your holiday with your friend if she is being that tricky already. I had a fantastic bonding ski holiday with my DD, we got on so well, had such a laugh and did exactly what we wanted without anybody interfering, it was the greatest memory bank holiday. Don't let them ruin your holiday with your DD. As you say, it it means refunding their airline tickets, well that is a small price to pay for you two to have a great time.

It was already going quite badly. I think you are right to wriggle out of it now. Your friend sounds so bloody selfish!

givemeaclue Wed 06-Mar-13 13:12:12

She won't be able to get a refund on flights so this could end up costing you a lot op?

Astelia Wed 06-Mar-13 13:47:16

Good move OP. Sadly it will be worth every penny not to have them with you.

Your friend sounds like an old friend of mine. She wouldn't stop in a cafe and pay for a coffee, she would rather wait four hours until she was back home or at mine for a free drink. It was no fun and I soon stopped going out with her. Money wasn't an issue, she was a lawyer, but she hated spending.

theoriginalandbestrookie Mon 18-Mar-13 16:48:04

how did the conversation go inthe end OP - have been thinking of you.

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