How do I meet people when I'm travelling alone? - Solo Survivor, Lower Hutt.
Five years ago, I would have said "hostels!". No matter where you are in the world, hostels are where you're almost guaranteed to make friends (and, er, friends with benefits) - even if just for a few days.
However, there was a moment when I had just turned 25, waking up from a near-sleepless night in a hostel in the UK (after what felt like four million people coming and going from the dorm), when I vowed to myself: "That's it. This is my last night EVER in a hostel. I'm too old for this crap."
I assume you're in the same boat now, so here's the first thing you need to know: accommodation choice is key. Don't stay in hotels. You'll never meet anyone who doesn't want money from you (whether they're a porter or a lady-of-the-night from the lobby).
Instead, rent rooms in other people's houses on Airbnb. They're cheap, and you get to live with new people for a few days, experience local life, and will likely be invited to outings with your temporary flatmates and their friends. It is, quite possibly, the lowest-effort friend-making you'll ever do.
Outside of accommodation, here's some other easy etiquette for meeting new people when you're abroad: become a coffee drinker. Hang out in cafes, but stand at the bar - here, you'll be placed alongside loads of other singles, freelancers, and travellers using the WiFi. Pubs, too, offer similar opportunities and people are often even friendlier. Strike up conversation by asking someone to pass you a napkin/sugar/the newspaper and then ask them a question, beginning with, "I'm not from around here. Do you know where I can find..." Nine times out of ten, they'll ask about your accent (remember there are less than five million of us; we're exotic!), and you've got the ball rolling. To convert this single-serving friend into a repeater, go back to the same café at the same time of day for several consecutive days. Chances are, you'll bump into them again, build up a rapport, and maybe exchange social media details. Then you're away laughing.
My husband eats fruit in the supermarket, at what point does this constitute stealing? Grape? Tomato? Watermelon? - Perturbed Partner, Auckland.
First of all: a watermelon, seriously? How does your husband do it? Bring his own knife and cut a sliver? Or does he peel back the Glad Wrap on those pre-cut slices, and gnaw in like a crazed lab rat because his I Quit Sugar diet won't let him eat high-fructose and he's finally gone crackers?
Ethically, he is always stealing, no matter the size of the produce. There is no good etiquette for this, except perhaps to buy your fruit and vege from either organic stores or farmer's markets, where you will normally be offered a taste by staffers (or you can ask and they'll usually be fine with it).
Next time he tries it on at Countdown, smack him on the hand. Or yell "thief!" and run into the beer chilling room. That'll learn him.
My boyfriend and I have just got a joint account and I'm wondering how much I can treat myself from it? - Sneaky Spender, Wellington.
There's this great concept in couples' financing called "Sometimes Sharing". In essence, this involves each partner putting a portion of their salary into the joint account for joint expenses (if one partner makes more money than the other, the amount is usually a percentage of each individual's earnings, not dollar-for-dollar). For personal shopping - clothes, shoes, gifts for each other - you use your own account so there is never any resentment in using each other's money in non-communal expenditure. My husband and I do this and it works really well.
However, there has been the occasional night when I've gone out with friends, and he has later seen a withdrawal on our online banking which reads something like, "House of Kebabs. 3.57AM. $9.50."
My husband laughs it off. However, it's not very good ethics to treat yourself unless you have an agreement with your boyfriend to do so, and to what extent you both constitute "treats". Drunken kebabs, yes. Louboutins? Probably not.
Whatever the case, make sure you talk about it, and set boundaries together. You don't want to end up like a woman I saw posting the following on Instagram the other day: "My biggest fear is that I'll die and my husband will sell my handbags for what I told him they cost".