By Cheryl Pruss
Have you ever planned a trip with others (friends, your kids, other people’s kids, parents or other relatives, even your spouse) only to have the trip turn into a mini-disaster as you visit your dream location? I have, and as a result, I was very interested in a book that I heard about, titled Travel with Others Without Wishing They’d Stayed Home (by Nadine Nardi Davidson). I bought one copy, loved it and bought a dozen more copies for friends and family that we plan to travel with in the future.
Just as there are different personalities, there are different types of travelers. Each type has a personal agenda and reason for traveling. In order for them to enjoy the trip their needs must be met. Compatibility, communication, consideration/flexibility, planning, budget requirements, and patience are required to create a positive environment that creates a positive experience.
We can have successful vacations traveling with others when we understand our own traveling style, choose people to travel with that have complimentary traveling styles or plan separate activities for people with differing travel styles. Here is how we used the book to help manage a “first time” traveling together experience to South America with another couple.
Each couple took a brief travel style test from the book and found that both couples were “Travel Enthusiasts” who are described as enjoying the experience of different conditions (cultural, geographic, lingual, comfort, weather, etc.) which helps them feel alive and well through self discovery. It also teaches appreciation and humility.
When Barb and Allen Frank and my husband Joe and I first began to consider a trip to Central and South America we knew that each couple had something unique to contribute – my husband and I live in our home in Costa Rica ½ of the time so we know our way around pretty well and Allan Frank has family in Panama and Colombia and lived there as a small child. We felt that each couple brought unique insight and having friends and family in each of the visited countries provided “insider information” for a safer, more enjoyable experience.
Budget discussions need to happen up front and travel arrangements should be managed by one person but agreed upon by the whole group.
Agree how much you will spend for ….
a. Plane VS train VS bus or car
a. Hotel or villa.
b. How many bedrooms – or separate accommodations
c. What else is important – WIFI, a washing machine etc
d. How long you will stay in each location
e. Who wants to sleep in vs who wants to be out at dawn
f. Are there any dietary restrictions – medical/dieting/etc
g. Do you eat full meals, snack, or skip meals?
h. What types of food do you eat – not eat
i. Will the bill be split or itemized?
j. What about the tip?
What activities will be done as a group
What activities will be done separately by individual or couple
The Franks and the Prusses are fairly compatible travelers. We flipped a coin for the “good bedroom” in the penthouse apartment that we rented in Cartagena (for much less then the hotel down the street in the old city) and agreed that when we got to Bogota the other couple would get their bedroom of choice. We made lists of restaurants that each of us wanted to visit in each city we visited and finding consensus was usually easy. We had some great together activities like traveling in a dugout canoe, seeing the Embera indigenous people in Panama, several great meals in Cartagena, visiting Allen’s family, Andres carne de Res and the Gold Museum (in Bogota) . We also planned separate activities – museums visits, morning walks in the old city – complete with Empanadas bought from the street vendors, a visit to the public market in Bogota, and some meals where each of us just wanted some alone time.
About the only real conflict we had was over splitting the bill at restaurants – splitting them 50/50 or itemizing the cost turned out to be an issue as my husband Joe usually had beer while the 3 of us would have a higher priced wine. We solved that with issue with separate checks.
All in all, we had a fun vacation, and I recommend this book as a model for planning and a successful trip while traveling with others.