Dear TripAdvisor: Tread carefully with comments about bikini
Q: My sister-in-law still wears the same string bikini she wore 10 years ago when she was in college. The problem is, she's about 30 pounds heavier now, and it looks terrible. We're all about to go on a cruise together, and I'd like to say something, but I don't know how. I know I'd want to know if I looked that bad, but I'm afraid I'll insult her. She seems to take pride in being able to say she still wears her spring-break bikini. Help!
A: Tread carefully. This involves bathing suits, aging, weight gain and body image, all of which are touchy subjects on their own -- never mind all wrapped up together!
Up-front, unsolicited honesty about little things someone may not be aware of is usually appreciated when it's something they can easily fix, like spinach in their teeth. But saying that "You should stop wearing that old bikini -- it looks awful!" could seriously hurt your sister-in-law's feelings.
Why don't you suggest the two of you go shopping for clothes for your cruise? You could casually walk by the swimsuit department and say, "You know what? I've decided we deserve new bathing suits. We'll probably be in the pool or at the beach every single day! Let's go!"
Hopefully, she'll find a new, different suit that's more flattering. But if not, honestly, I'd keep your opinion to yourself.
Q: If a restaurant has a sommelier, do I need to tip him separately?
A: Nope. Most restaurants practice "tipping out," which means whatever tip you give your waiter is divided among all the staff members who helped you. So all you need to do is tip the normal 18 percent to 20 percent, and the sommelier will get a fair cut.
Q: I was at a resort pool and some guy asked me if I'd put sunscreen on his back. Yuck! I said no, and his response was, "What, do you want me to get skin cancer?" You shouldn't ask strangers to apply sunscreen, right?
A: Of course not. (And just FYI, an appropriate response from you would have been, "No, but I do want you to stop hitting on me in such a pathetic, creepy way.")
Q: What is with Americans wearing huge, dazzlingly white sneakers everywhere they go?
A: To balance our huge, dazzlingly white teeth? Just kidding. I haven't the foggiest idea. I'm all for sightseeing in comfortable shoes, but the last time I checked, comfortable shoes came in colors other than white and styles other than sneakers. Like jogging suits, they look inappropriately casual in most major cities (except, of course, if you're actually doing something athletic).
(E-mail travel-etiquette questions to Lesley Carlin at deartripadvisor(at)tripadvisor.com.)
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