laplumeDear L. A. Plume,
A friend wants me to travel with her for a couple of weeks and I like the idea. We haven’t traveled together before so I don’t know how comfortable I’ll be sharing a hotel room with her; I snore, she stays up late reading, I don’t like to sleep with the lights on, etc. How can we find out if this is going to work before we embark on a journey? I don’t want to hurt the friendship.

Dear Jane,
If you live within range of each other, you could try going somewhere close by for a test night; otherwise there are some alternatives. Unless you are using points to pay for your rooms, or are trying to accumulate points for future travel, try sites like VRBO, flipkey, or airbnb, where with a bit of research, you should be able to find accommodations such as a two bedroom condo or apartment for a price similar to one hotel room. Not only will you have your own room and privacy, you will also have a kitchen which comes in handy when traveling and three restaurant meals a day can become burdensome. Be alert to cleaning fees and security deposits, and I’ve found that unless you’re traveling in a high season, there may be room for negotiation on those as well as the nightly or weekly rate.
L. A. Plume

Dear Ms. Plume,
We have a group of people who take turns hosting dinners regularly. I spend lots of time and money on these dinners as the bar has been set fairly high. The problem is that one of the couples always leaves early. As soon as the meal is finished, she starts tapping her foot and signaling to her husband that it’s time to go. This, for some reason, makes the other guests uneasy about whether they should leave also, so that the after dinner drinks and conversation I had planned on often go out the door with this couple. Is there anything I can do?

Dear P.,
The first person to leave a party does seem to start an exodus. If it’s a cocktail party, it’s best to try to slip away without any fuss, a quiet good-bye to the hosts, or a note afterwards saying how much you enjoyed the party but didn’t want people to follow you out the door will explain. Everyone who entertains knows this happens and shouldn’t be offended at a quiet exit. However, a dinner party is another matter; it’s difficult to leave the table and not have anyone notice that your seats have gone empty. When this couple gets up to go, you might simply say to the rest of the guests something like “The Early Birds are going home now, but everyone else, please stay for the rest of the party and enjoy this evening which I am so fortunate to have you share with me.”
L. A. Plume

Dear Ms. Plume,
As a single woman it seems that people are forever asking me if I expect to have a date for a party, or if I’m seeing anyone, or they inquire about my general welfare, as if being single is a terminal disease. Do you have any good comebacks?

Dear Speechless,
A standard reply to a question such as that is: “Why do you ask?” You’re likely to get some interesting answers, if you want to bother listening to them. But my friend Aly has another answer for you: “I ‘confide’ to those people, in hushed tones and with admonitions to keep it to themselves, that I am secretly seeing a much younger man in the next town over, but that for reasons I am not able to divulge, he would be deemed highly inappropriate for me!” She says that leaves most of those inquisitive people with their mouths hanging open as she puts a finger to her lips and finishes with, “Since you are my very dear friend, I know I can trust you not to tell a soul and understand why I can’t answer any more questions.” She says it works for her, give it a try.
L. A. Plume