Thursday, November 12, 2009

Travel Tips Part III

Speaking of travel, my friend mentioned to me the other day that she had been planning a trip with a couple of her friends. She just got her first passport, was approved to get a week off work, and then...nothing happened. Her friends didn't follow through. And I'm sad to say I'm not surprised.

Trips take a lot of intentional dedication and work to become realities. If you are ever planning a vacation with friends, keep the following in mind:

1. People, even the dearest and most sincere, will flake when it comes to committing financially to things. I'm including myself in that, too. I mean, duh. It's easy to say you're "in" during the planning stages of anything. But when that deposit needs to be put down, backing out is inevitable and the truth should expect it. I never count on anyone being in on the plan unless they've forked out a deposit right along with me. Money talks.

2. Communicate with your friends before the trip about expectations. Unless you have come to an understanding about things like comfort levels, areas of interest, physical limitations, how much you're both willing to spend, and even things like food choices, you will be in for a rude awakening once you realize that your friend wants to visit a mall while you want to visit a museum, someone wants to take a five-mile hike when you want to sit at a café, or your friend expected a five-star hotel instead of a hostel. Never assume someone's expectations are the same as yours. We all know what happens when you assume...

3. If, after you've discussed expectations and made plans, you're having second thoughts about the trip...explore why you're feeling that way. Does your vacation already look totally different than you thought it would? Maybe you're planning to travel with the wrong person. Traveling can bring out the best in people...but it can also bring out the worst. You don't want arguments, differences, or petty annoyances to ruin a trip you're paying a lot of money for.

4. That being said, do be prepared to compromise...most often on things that don't matter (like which bed you prefer in a hotel). Be a team player. This is your friend's trip, too.

5. Traveling alone can be awesome. Things always become more complicated when you have to depend on other people to stay with or take you places. There's freedom to be found in traveling alone. I've met many great people and forced myself out of my comfort zone while traveling by myself, and while it's sometimes been more challenging, it's always been a rewarding experience.
For parts I and II of my travel tips, go here and here.

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