My sister and her husband said I should pay 40% towards our vacation rentals because they share a bedroom. Is that fair?

Dear Quentin,

My sister, brother-in-law and I have traveled together a number of times on month-long trips. On previous vacations, we each agreed to pay one-third for two-bedroom places and car rentals.

We decided to take a 10-month vacation financed by renting out our homes, and selling our cars. But this time my brother-in-law declared that the split should be 60/40. That is, I would pay 40%, he would pay 30% and my sister would pay 30% for housing.

Once we started the trip, he declared that as that they were paying the most money they should get the main bedroom with an attached bathroom everywhere we stayed.

Wait, there’s more. Because we already were splitting the rooms 60/40, he said we should do the same with the car rental — even though we had to get a larger car to accommodate her extra luggage — gas and parking and tolls.

60/40 split

If that wasn’t enough, my sister invited her 40-year-old son who makes $80,000 a year to vacation with us. She told him she would pay for his ticket, lodging and transportation. 

She declared that her son should not have to pay a portion of the bill, and he would just sleep on the couch or on a cot. She also declared that her son should not have to contribute toward the car rental — we had to rent an even bigger car for four people — gas, parking and tolls. 

I told her that he should contribute some portion. She got angry, and decided that we needed to take a “break” after we got home from our vacation.

There are hurt feelings all around. My sister and brother-in-law cannot understand my frustrations with the money split. Yet I believe that I was paying more than my share, and her son or, at the very least, his mother should have paid his expenses.


Disappointed Brother

Dear Brother,

There were a lot more declarations than “namastes” on this vacation.

Going on holiday with a couple is tricky because you will always get outvoted. The same is true if you are holidaying with a friend and their friend. It’s not equal. They will come to you with a fait accompli disguised as a “suggestion” and you will be outvoted on every little decision 2-to-1. As for the 60/40 split. That’s when you should have walked away, and wished them the best of luck. If there’s even a hint of some folks being more equal than others before a vacation, don’t go.

Did they tell you they wanted to split the accommodations 60/40 before or after you paid for the trip? If they presented you with this idea after the trip was booked, that’s bad faith given that you had set a three-way-split precedent. You are renting a house or apartment, and it’s easier and fairer to split the cost three ways. Where you sleep should have little bearing how the costs are divided. Splitting the transportation 60/40 was a step too far. You each occupy one seat. They got greedy. 

These parsimonious penny-pinchers should vacation alone. Their 60/40 accommodation split is petty. But even their pettiness doesn’t quite make much sense. Yes, they share a room, but they’re also getting a bigger room with an en suite bathroom. One could also argue that you are saving them money by being the third wheel on their trip. In future, split everything three ways. Otherwise, stay home, take a solo trip, or do your own thing and meet them somewhere along the way.

It’s more respectful for everyone to pay an equal amount.

Also read: Jamie Dimon insists his workers return to the office — here’s why that’s a bit rich

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