It was amazing. We saw the Musees Picasso and d'Orsay, ate pastries outside Notre Dame, and drank champagne outside the Louvre. All in all, I'll look back on it as one of the best vacations, ever.
Also, her husband was there too.
First off, I know what you're thinking. Paris, with its endless wine, winding streets, and couples kissing on every corner, is a place some might argue is one of the most romantic cities in the world. Of all the places in the world to tag along to a trip to, why that one? Ahead of the trip, I got lots of surprised facial reactions, Everyone knows we're all good friends (I was a bridesmaid in their wedding last summer!) but hijacking a trip to Paris was a little much.
But we had our reasons.
Paris is one of my favorite cities in the world, and this year I was determined to visit again. So when my friend Natalie's husband Alex (who is also my friend too!) had the opportunity to go to Paris for work for a week, we thought, why don't we come with?
It was a win for all three of us: If it had just been the two of them going, Natalie would have to spend the days by herself. And while traveling alone, as my co-worker Maria Yagoda pointed out, can be fun and rewarding, Natalie preferred to have a buddy to explore the city with. Alex didn't have to worry about rushing out of work to meet her.
Me? Well, I got to go to Paris.
Once we explained the situation, people got understanding pretty quickly. And throughout our time in France, I learned a lot about vacationing with a couple. So if you've got (welcoming) friends who are inviting you to join them on a can't-pass-it-up trip, here are my tips on successfully third wheeling in the world's most romantic city.
1. Pick the right couple.
I have to give credit to my friends — they are very chill people, and traveling with them was easy. If your friends' idea of a great trip to Paris involves five minute long pauses to make out along the Seine, I advise staying home. My friends, thankfully, are not like that. They've been together for nearly six years — which is longer than I've known either of them. Hanging out with Natalie and Alex is something I frequently did in college, and now do regularly after work or on weekends. I consider him not just my friend's husband, but my good friend too. So there was no new dynamic to be established — that happened long ago.
2. Acknowledge the situation.
While most of our close friends knew about our travel plans, our greater social circle didn't. And considering Natalie and I are sorority sisters, that's a lot of people. So upon our arrival, we decided that we need to acknowledge that our travel arrangements were a tad unexpected. And as a group of 22 and 23-year-olds, what better way to do this than by on Instagram.
While Natalie went for a more traditional approach…
…I, on the other hand, decided to just call it like it is.
Because when you think about it, it is funny.
3. Know you're going to have to take a lot of pictures.
The biggest downside to vacationing as a pair? You're always asking someone else — someone whose photography skills you can never be sure of — to take your photos. But vacationing as a trio means there's always someone around to snap them for you. And when you're on a trip with your best friend and her husband, that someone, oftentimes, is you.
As someone who is pretty photo-obsessed myself, it was actually no big deal. But for the vast majority of people who, in my experience, find photo taking for any stretch of time longer than 60 seconds tedious, they'd be annoyed. So if you go, just know – you'll spend a lot of times behind the lens.
4. But also be happy that you and your BFF have a built-in photographer!
Couple photos are great — but so are friend photos! And with Alex around, we had a built-in photographer to snap countless Instagrams, potential profile pictures, you name it.
As for the hours when he was at work? Well, that's what kind strangers and selfie sticks are for.
5. Give them some alone time.
Now, I did want to give them some alone time. I briefly considered finding a rendezvous on French Tinder, but I've seen Taken one too many times for that idea not to make me (and my travel companions) nervous. So instead, on a Sunday, when Alex had off work, I took the train to Strasbourg (a city I've long wanted to visit) for the day while they had a little husband-and-wife bonding time at Versailles. I arrived back in Paris at 10:45, which gave them the evening to go out to dinner, just the two of them.
6. Don't stress about it!
If you're the type of person who is going to spend your trip worried about your friends, acquaintances, and hey, random strangers, are going to think you're a goon for going on vacation with your married friends, then perhaps it's best to sit this one out. If your friends didn't want you to be there, you wouldn't be there.
Really, at the end of the day, all you're doing is visiting to one of the greatest cities in the world with some of your closest buds. And there's nothing better than that.