I am part of a group of friends with four other women. They are going on an amazing international trip and they didn’t invite me. I have traveled successfully with one of the women, but less success with the tour operator. (This led to some distance between us, which we have since fixed.) I love to travel, but my partner can’t afford such trips, so I rely on my friends as travel partners. I also love and respect these women, even if they are not among my closest friends. But this experience makes me feel like I don’t matter to any of them. What’s my best move? Talk to the organizer? face them all? Or back out of the group?
I know you want a specific outcome here: getting on that plane in a group of five. This probably doesn’t happen, though. (I’m sorry. I know it hurts to be left out.) But if you look beyond this journey, you might see other opportunities—most importantly—that these women can still be your friends.
Logistically speaking, traveling in a quad is much easier than traveling in a five. There are more tables for four in restaurants than tables for five (which are actually tables for six). Four people can be accommodated in one taxi and share two hotel rooms. Moreover, quality travel with other people often boils down to personal rhythms: When do we like to wake up? How active are we? How much time do we need on our own? These factors, and even your bad trip with the regulator, don’t say much about the quality of relationships. Your friends’ (possibly practical) decision isn’t a sign of dislike.
Now, you say your partner can’t afford international travel. So, why not plan an amazing local trip? You also allude to close friends. Welcome? looks promising. There is certainly no harm in telling international travelers that you’ll be keen to join them next time. Respect your hurt feelings, but don’t get too carried away with this one episode, okay?
How soon should others start saving for my kids’ college?
I’m planning our annual backyard party to celebrate my kids’ birthdays: My son is seven, and my daughter is four. We invite dozens of families. I would like to show our guests about the 529 College Savings Plan for Kids and the option to contribute to it as an alternative to buying gifts. My kids don’t need any more toys, and it pains me to see a $50 game ignored when the same $50 might help pay for tuition one day. Is there a polite way to let guests know about this?
Pay homage: Planning for the increased costs of college with a tax-advantaged 529 savings plan is a smart move. Let me also point out that I am not a party czar. You have to make that call to yourself. In your place, I’d probably feel comfortable telling family and very close friends about the accounts.
But I don’t think a little kids’ backyard birthday party is the right place to ask for contributions to college savings plans. I might be out of step here: I wouldn’t be giving out $50 gifts to kids either. (Touch me for a fun book or craft project at $20 a pop.) Personally, I’d save the 529 option for the most important occasions: elementary school graduations and other rites of passage.
Save it to your scrapbook, right?
I remember when expecting friends to look through a pile of vacation photos was considered rude. Isn’t it just as rude, if not more so, to shove an iPhone in a friend’s face to make her look at vacation photos? “Look at the hotel lobby in Naples!” “Look what we had for lunch in Rome!” How do I get out of this situation without ruining friendships?
If only this inconvenience was limited to travel photos! Pictures of regular kitchen renovations, normal brunch meals, and kids are frequently shown in each activity. (And don’t forget about dead time while their friends scour their camera shots for that perfect shot.) However, criticizing people for their shared behavior rarely works, even well.
Here is my text: “Please put your phone away! I look at screens all day. I am interested in you. Tell me more about your trip. You can send me pictures later.” Note: it works sometimes.
No Plus One? But what if it is not shed?
Our friend asks – every time we call him – if he can bring his cat. Is it real? We don’t want a cat in our house. How bad are we getting rejected each time? We can’t honestly claim to be allergic, but we will if it helps.
You mean, bring the cat in the carrier? I’ve never heard of bringing a free-range cat to a social event. However, the normal rules apply: As a host, you have the right to create your own guest list. It may be hard to turn your friend down over and over again, but you’re not doing anything wrong. Just say, “We’d rather not have your cat.” Even if your friend declines your invitations, they will all live to put out another day.