Who Pays for What on a Family Vacation?


    The Christmas holidays are fast approaching, and Lila and George would like to rent a cabin at a ski resort for the whole family, which includes three 20-something children and two spouses. Everyone would have to fly up, and their single son, Paul, is struggling financially. Their daughters and sons-in-law are doing much better. Lila and George are retirees who are barely making it themselves.

--Should Lila and George underwrite Paul’s airfare but expect the other two families to pay their own way?
--Are the parents entirely responsible for the cost of the cabin?
--Who picks up the bill for food?
--Would your answers be different if Lila and George were wealthy

The Panel Weighs In

There was a lot of heat around this issue. As one of the panelists said, “You’re describing my life!” They all agreed, though, that their answers would be different if Lila and George had a lot of money.

Foster: When parents can’t afford it, they shouldn’t try to bribe their adult children to be with them at the holidays by offering a ski vacation. However, if the kids are enthusiastic about the prospect, then everyone should pay his or her own way and the more well-to-do sibs should subsidize their brother.

Steven: It’s not a bribe! Memories are important and vacations put everyone in different “fun” places. The family should problem-solve to try to make it happen. However, everyone needs to have some “skin in the game.” Even if Paul can’t pay full freight, he should pay something, such as being responsible for one day of food.

Nan: The point is for the family to be together at Christmas not to show off where they’ve been on Facebook. Taking the whole crew away for the holidays has been glamorized, but it doesn’t seem so glamorous when the credit card charges show up. But if the family does go, they should divvy up the costs of the cabin and the food.

Wilhemina: Even though it’s embarrassing to discuss finances, it’s better to get he financial arrangements settled ahead of time rather than harbor resentments. No one wants to feel he’s paying more than he’s comfortable with or more than his fair share. That would create tensions among the siblings and ruin the vacation before it even starts!

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