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chyna's avatar

How to handle this delicate situation?

Asked by chyna (51296points) November 24th, 2023
16 responses
“Great Question” (2points)

My best friend and I will be retiring soon. She wants to start traveling with me as her husband doesn’t like to go anywhere. She smokes. Heavily. I can’t see any nice way to tell her I can’t stand the cigarette smoke. She seems to think if she rolls her window down a few inches, the smoke won’t get to me. Wrong. I want to tell her in a NICE way that this won’t work if she smokes in the car or in hotel rooms. Again, it has to be in a nice way. Please give me your suggestions, or if you have been in this situation, how did you deal with it?

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JLeslie's avatar

I would tell her “I love the idea of us traveling together, but I hope you are ok with not smoking in the car or hotel.” That simple. Some smokers respond with, “I never smoke indoors.” Let’s hope that’s the case.

Maybe choose destinations that are warm so she can comfortably smoke outside.

Most moderate and better hotels are smoke free in the US. All Bonvoy family (Marriott) hotels are 100% smoke free, except MGM casino. I’m not sure about Hilton family hotels, but all of the Hilton family hotels I have stayed in the last couple of years I don’t remember any smoke, but maybe I chose smoke free rooms? You could have separate rooms and avoid that possible problem.

Will you be able to sit at an outside table with her if she is smoking? If not, maybe traveling with her won’t work well, unless she is ok with using a nicotine patch. I would think part of her vacation enjoyment is smoking. Enjoying the actual act of smoking and not just the nicotine.

I’m not as good as I used to be at sharing rooms with people. I want the room at the temperature I like, I want to relax with the TV before I go to bed, and if I wake up in the middle of the night I don’t want to have to lie still because the other person is sleeping. The biggest of those three is the temperature. Are you sure she doesn’t like the AC on 65 and you like it on 75?

JLeslie's avatar

I’ll just add, I would make your first trip a short trip as a test run.

longgone's avatar

I’ve been in similar situations, and I made my request sound nice by making it about me, taking the “blame”. I just explained that these days, smoke irritates my lungs more than it used to. This is true, though I haven’t been diagnosed with anything and I believe my lungs are fine. Maybe think about why the smoke bothers you so much, and then just state the rules you already decided on. Say clearly, in the beginning and at the end, how much you want to go on trips with her. You don’t want her to feel rejected. I agree that your first trip should probably be a short test run.

YARNLADY's avatar

“I love that idea, I just wish my reaction to cigarette smoke wouldn’t make it impossible.”

Jeruba's avatar

Does she already know your feelings about cigarette smoke? Seems like something your best friend would know. How do you deal with it now?

chyna's avatar

All great ideas! Thanks so much.
@Jeruba She’s a traveling nurse, so we don’t get to see each other much. But when we do, I meet her at establishments.

snowberry's avatar

if she’s a heavy smoker, then her clothes will most certainly smell like cigarette smoke. if you are allergic to cigarette smoke, you may be bothered by the smell that comes off of her even when she is not smoking, and that means you may be bothered just traveling in the car with her..

mazingerz88's avatar

Heavy smoker? As if her life depends on it? Unfortunate but I don’t think it will work out well for you both. I had a well meaning friend who tried not smoking so we can do things together and he was…unable to function.

cookieman's avatar

My cousin, whom I love, is a heavy smoker. The last in my family and friend group, actually. She only smokes outside, regardless of weather. Makes no difference. She reeks of smoke. Like Pig Pen in the Peanuts cartoons, there is a cloud that follows her around. When she comes to visit, we have wash/fumigate the dogs, couch, and coat closet after she leaves. We all have headaches after she leaves.

I’ve never been to her house because A) she doesn’t host anything and B) even if she did, I wouldn’t go (her son and boyfriend also smoke).

As a result, I limit how much I’m around her. She’d love to come over monthly, but I’m always putting it off.

It’s sad, but there’s no way in hell I’d go on vacation with her.

I think, if you’re still inclined to go, I’d say something like, “I love you so much, but if we’re going to travel together, we need to address your smoking, or I won’t be able to go — and I really want to.”

Ground rules would be:
• separate hotel rooms
• smoking outdoors only
• dining outdoors if we can
• no smoking while we’re eating
• lots of mints/listerene strips
• wash hands frequently

jca2's avatar

In addition to her smelling, that smell will get into whatever car you’re in, even if she’s not smoking in the car with the window down, because it will linger on her clothes and hair. Being in her proximity might mean that smell getting onto your clothes and hair. Just walking near someone who is smoking will mean that smell will get onto your clothes and hair. I don’t think I could do it, traveling with someone like that. If she smoked an occasional cigarette, maybe one every few hours, it might be do-able (for me). If she’s smoking one an hour or more, then it would be really rough.

In addition to the smoking issue, you don’t know if she’s an early riser or maybe you’re an early riser, or late sleeper, or anything like does she like to sleep with the TV on all night, or maybe you do, and being with someone who’s not compatible makes things difficult.

I have a freind who owns a time share where she can hop to various resorts around the country (chain time share). If we go away, we try to do a two bedroom unit because she can sleep till noon or later, and I am usually up around 8 or so, so I can get up and do my thing and she can spend half the day sleeping if she wants to.

Caravanfan's avatar

Say, “I would love to travel with you, but a doctor has told me that I can’t be anywhere around cigarette smoke. I really hope you find someone to travel with.”

And you’re not lying. I’m a doctor.

LadyMarissa's avatar

I’d go for complete honesty!!! Tell her as much as you’d love to travel with her that you just can’t due to her smoking & you won’t expect her to quit so you 2 can travel together. You can’t live with it & she can’t live without it. She knows that she’s NOT going to quit, so she’ll drop the idea or maybe find somebody else who doesn’t get bothered by her smoking to travel with her. It will be jolting at first, but as a good friend she will understand & get past it.

For me, it wasn’t smoking. After my husband died, my BFF asked me to move in with her & the first words out of my mouth were Oh hell NO!!! She was shocked & asked why. I explained that I loved her dearly but we were too different to live together. I liked living alone where she needed others around her. I needed my peace & quiet & she had 9 grands who spent more time at her house than their own homes. She was too dayum picky about how she wanted things done & I was too old to change my system to her system. She was so fukin right wing that she’d NEVER appreciate the comments that would inevitably pop put of my mouth. Things that in small doses didn’t matter, but up close & personal could ruin a perfectly working friendship. She thought about it a minute or 2 & agreed with me. Then she told me that if I changed my mind, I had a room waiting. I’m still living in my own home. The ONLY thing that I needed she couldn’t give me & that was my husband back alive & well & I was thinking that I really didn’t need her telling me how I should be dealing with my grief!!! We’re still BFFs.

cookieman's avatar

I really like @Caravanfan’s suggestion.

JLeslie's avatar

I reread the details of the original post, @chyna wrote she seems to think if she rolls her window down a few inches, the smoke won’t get to me. That’s a bad sign. Most smokers are aware their smoke seriously bothers some people, and they care about it. Then there are smokers who think as long as they are outside or a window is open it’s enough. Lastly, there are smokers who don’t give a damn about anyone else around them. The question is which one is she.

If she rolls down her window and you tolerate the car ride more than once without saying anything, she thinks it’s enough because she wasn’t told differently.

I don’t think the doctor line will work, but I gave it a GA and it made me smile. I mean it might work, but she might give it an eye roll. Everyone knows smoke is bad for us. In my mind you don’t need a doctor; have the chutzpah to just say your truth. Your feelings on this are perfectly valid.

Let us know what happens.

Smashley's avatar

If there’s really no other way, you’ll just have to take up smoking, too.

Or listen to the doctor, or whatever. Honestly, if all other things are great, you can lay down some ground rules, be kind and flexible, and you can probably get used to the residual.

janbb's avatar

“I would love to meet you at “X” for an activity outdoors but being inside or in the car with a heavy smoker makes me ill. Let’s plan a beach or a park day for the Spring.”

There may be no way not to damage the friendship but there’s no way you should travel with her.

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