In-Laws Refusing To Pay for Their Share of Vacation Rental Sparks Fury

Think your in-laws are a nightmare? Think again. If a recent viral AIBU (Am I being Unreasonable) post is anything to go by, one Mumsnet user may be having a tougher time than you. The problem? Her parents-in-law are refusing to pay their share of a joint vacation the Mumsnet user had organized.

In a post titled "Parents in law and holiday bill—please tell me who is in the wrong!" which garnered over 120 responses from other users, @spandauballet explained that she and her husband typically get along well with his mother and stepdad.

"They are lovely, generous, very hands on with our kids etc," she wrote. "In Jan we agreed we'd all go on holiday together this year. We went to Majorca together in 2017 which was lovely, so decided to go again this July and also include my dad who gets on well with them too."

A family on vacation.
Stock image of a family of four at the edge of a pool, during a summer vacation. One Mumsnet user's parents-in-law are refusing to pay their share of a joint vacation. travnikovstudio/travnikovstudio/Getty

@spandauballet writes that her MIL (mother-in-law) found a number of accommodation options and sent her the list, saying she and her husband should choose. They opted for a four-bedroom apartment, which everyone later agreed upon. @spandauballet booked and paid the full cost of £2,400 (nearly $3,000), which was going to be split four ways.

Then the trouble started. While @spandauballet and her husband were taking a trip to go and see his parents, he and his stepdad got into an argument.

"Nothing to do with holiday whatsoever but ended in very heated discussion and MIL getting upset. (Neither were right or wrong just different opinions and they should have just agreed to disagree)," @spandauballet wrote. "Without consulting us MIL booked separate accommodation for July, saying she needs 'somewhere to go should things kick off whilst we are on holiday'. She also decided without discussion that what we had booked is not big enough."

@spandauballet added that her MIL "stated they would not pay their share of the one I'd already booked," noting that leaves them with roughly £750 added to the cost of their vacation.

"I am livid. Neither of them seem to think this is bad since we are 'getting use of an extra bedroom.' I don't need an extra bedroom—our kids are 5 and 2 and will share," @spandauballet wrote. "AIBU to think you can't just decide not to partake in an agreed holiday without paying your share? If I had already got their share, she would not have booked a new place! What do I do now?"

Other Mumsnet users had a few ideas.

"That is very cheeky and petulant, are you able to change?" wrote @Momicrone.

@Toponeniceone added "Bloody hell, that's awful of her."

Several users suggested that she try to change the booking, including @FieldOverFence who suggested: "I'd be cancelling as you wouldn't be able to pay that extra cost..."

Likewise, @TiddleyWink wrote: "Cancel the holiday. It's bound to be a disaster. She has committed and pulled out leaving you out of pocket. The consequences is no holiday with her grandchildren."

The original poster's experience is likely not rare, according to several studies and surveys on the stress of family vacations. One survey, conducted by lifestyle website Fatherly, used a cohort of 1,000 parents to explore their travel habits and attitudes toward vacationing. Some 65 percent of respondents said that the biggest stressor in planning a vacation was dealing with the expense.

On a similar note, a 2012 study published in the journal Tourism Analysis was focused on "the degree to which stress occurs on vacations, including how and where it develops, [and] who is most susceptible." Researchers found that the planning stage of vacationing produced the highest levels of stress, and that this is particularly true for those planning "an international vacation accompanied by a spouse or relative." They noted that the biggest stressor during this period was "financial concerns."

Either way, Mumsnet users were firm that @spandauballet should not accept her MIL's actions.

@titchy wrote: "Two separate issues. Perfectly reasonable for them to book elsewhere in case of arguments. NOT ok to expect you to pay for it though."

@SolasAnla suggested that @spandauballet cancel the booking and make a new plan.

"Yes his parents should pay the money to him (and you) but you can't control or influence that," @SolasAnla. "Make a note to never ever to spend your money on a joint agreement again. If you book it you get the money paid directly or transferred to your account first."