by JEANNE FLEMING, PH.D. and LEONARD SCHWARZ
Question: We frequently take ski trips with another couple. The problem is, every time we do, Rob and Claire help themselves to the nicest bedroom in the condo we share. My wife says that this is only fair since Claire usually finds and books the condos. I say since we're paying half, we should get the better room as often as they do. Who's right?
Our Answer: Sick of climbing into the bunk beds in that dark little bedroom by the utility closet, are you? We're with you. If two couples are splitting the bill, the better room goes to the folks who didn't have it on the last trip, not the couple who are quickest to park their bags there. But for this to happen with Rob and Claire, you're going to have to speak up. There's no other way out of the dungeon.
If they claim that Claire has earned the better room by playing travel agent, they'd have a point, just as your wife says. But if that's how they feel, they're obligated to say so and not simply extract their "fee." After all, you might prefer their side of the deal - the condo booker gets the best room - to the side they've unilaterally assigned you.
Whatever your friends' reasoning, be prepared to start taking turns making the travel plans when you tell them you want to start taking turns with the master bedroom. And should you ever vacation with another couple, put deciding who gets what on the table the first time the good-vs.-bad-room situation arises. Nipping the problem in the bud is a lot easier than taking back a benefit that longtime vacation pals have come to take for granted.