Dating Dilemma: Splitting Travel Costs

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One of the milestones of new relationships is going on your first trip together. It’s fun, exciting and something to look forward to. But it also opens cans of worms.

Forget the one about defining your relationship — if we travel together, then are we a couple? — because before you arrive, you’ll have to figure out who is paying for what.

One night over drinks, The Captain and I talked about Vegas. For those of you living in Los Angeles, Vegas is an easy and inexpensive getaway. Even with its crowds and overpriced meals, Vegas is charming to me. That is, if you hang in the right places.

The following week, The Captain asked which weekend I’d be able to go. Then a week later, he called while choosing flights on Southwest Airlines. He booked them, then I booked a room. It felt like a blast, but I couldn’t help thinking, “What in the world are we doing?” Three nights in Vegas as an unofficial couple seemed like a long time to spend together. And who would pick up the check?

Would I ask how much my half of the flight was, and then write him a check? Would he do the same for the room? Would we split down the middle? I asked The Panel my friends and advisers in dating these questions and here’s what two respondents had to say.

"When it's just dating, pre-girlfriend/boyfriend seriousness, I think the guy should offer to pay for pretty much everything. That’s just how I was raised. I'd probably ask if we could split the big costs like airfare and the hotel, but once we got to our destination, I’d offer to pay for everything else." — Taylor, 31, In a Relationship

"As a woman, I'd offer to spilt everything, but I'm thinking there's a good chance the guy would insist on paying for the hotel at the very least. If it's a trip that requires a flight, I'd pay for my own flight, but would expect the guy to pick up hotel. If he did that I'd at least insist on covering the cost of a dinner(s)!" — Asabi, 30-something, Single

Eventually, I couldn’t take the stress and canceled the trip. Things were see-sawing between the two of us, and the decision to go felt premature. Although I knew we would have a good time, the lack of definition in our relationship was going to bother me. We would be going to Vegas as a couple: haring a room, doing everything together for three days, and then what? He was about to leave L.A. for three months for a job, and there were no plans to see each other while he was gone.

I was able to cancel the hotel with no charges because I gave more than 48 hours’ notice. The flight, however, was a different story. I asked The Captain to let me know how much I owed for the ticket and fees. The last thing I wanted to do was take his money; I wanted him to use the tickets another time.

The bottom line here is that inside I knew it was just too soon to plan a trip together. When you’re a couple you don’t ask these questions. The last time I went away with a boyfriend, we drove. He paid all the gas; we split the hotel. We alternated dinners, but he paid for most of it. And it was never a question. We were a couple involved in a serious relationship.

The Captain and I were — and still are — a long way from there. With so many unanswered questions between us, there would be problems down the line both emotionally and financially.

Instead of lounging poolside at Treasure Island, I sun-bathed at the pool down the street from my house. Maybe one day The Captain and I will figure it out. But until we do, the money and the trip are on hold.

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