So you booked your vacation and looked forward to it for weeks, maybe even months or years. Whether you have poured over travel books, websites and watched countless videos about your intended destination or simply booked a trip on impulse, your ultimate goal is to enjoy your vacation and come back with awesome memories. But then something goes horribly wrong and the trip goes to hell in a hand basket.
Many people think that a trip is ruined when their flight gets cancelled, delayed or the great hotel they booked is no longer available due to a fire, flood, bed bug infestation etc. Maybe their luggage takes a side trip, the weather opts to turn nasty or a disease suddenly becomes a regional concern at the exact place you were going to be residing on your vacation. Yes these are all things that can dampen your vacation enjoyment but they are the unavoidable and unpredictable. The most common problems with trips are things that can be prevented or avoided by a little pre-trip planning and a great deal of communication. In this blog I am going to address one of the most important elements of a successful trip – The Travel Companion.
At the top of my tip list to prevent having your vacation go to crap is knowing the person with whom you are going to travel. In my opinion, it is one of the most important components of a successful trip. I hear stories about traveling companions who drove each other crazy and ruined trips due to interpersonal conflicts. You may not be able to do anything about the annoying person on a bus tour or the loud mouth on your shore excursion but you choose who your personal travel companions are and thus you have some control over your own destiny in this regard.
Know the Person
The party animal who likes to get wasted and then get naked might be hysterical at an isolated cottage party but a huge embarrassment on a cruise ship. The book worm who parks his butt on a bed in the hotel and buries himself in the latest best seller is hardly the fun companion you envisioned when anticipating visiting various points of interest with more than just your guidebook. Conversely the person who dreams of a vacation where they can just sit, relax and catch up on their reading will hardly enjoy being on a whirlwind, packed tour with little down time. Are you a museum dweller or a speedy gazelle who runs to as many points of interest as humanly possible? Nature lovers versus urban explorers. Night owl or early bird. It is critically important to talk through your expectations and how you see your vacation unfolding.
Communicate Your Expectations
Telling your travel companion(s) what you want to do and see will help establish expectations. Even when you know the people with whom you are travelling, it is essential that you are up front about what you anticipate for the trip and specifically, your costing. Talking about physical limitations, phobias or fears will also provide clarity.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard a person say “I did not want to do [something] but I did not want to say no”, I would have a lot more money and have visited a lot more countries. Just because you want to go on a vacation does not mean you have to accept a trip that will have you doing and seeing things that you do not want to do. For example, will an activity make you feel uncomfortable? Not a mountain trekker? Say so. Don’t like crowds or long line ups? Hate bugs, tents and outdoor toilets? Not anxious to partake of a food tour? Just say no. Do not go along with an activity if you are going to resent the location, time and/or money spent.
Be Prepared to Compromise
It is also imperative that you are able to compromise. I once had a conference in Northern Ireland and invited my husband to join me. He arrived in Belfast with a list of the 100 best pubs of Northern Ireland while I had a list of the 100 best churches. Clearly our interests were different and a little give and take was necessary. I chose my “must see” churches based on architectural design while my husband selected his choice of pubs based on historical interest. We hit the highlights of our two lists and a few times we each went our own way in order to see some specific place that was of little interest to the other. At the end of the trip, while sitting in a pub overlooking a church, we agreed that we had both seen the key locations on our lists.
In summary, if traveling with family, you are pretty much aware of what their interests are and what you anticipate doing. But traveling with friends or relatives with whom you do not live, needs a little more thought and a lot of communication. Your vacation is your holiday. It is your time to do what you want to do and generally relax. Make sure you take the necessary steps to have a strife free vacation.