What would you do?

Mar 5th, 2006, 09:16 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 25
What would you do?

What would you do if all your friends depended on you to arrange a great 10-days holiday for them?
Mid-April will be the time. Everyone -that means 2 to 8 other people- trust you to :
1) pick a destination
2) decide on the itinerary
3) make the arrangements (flights, hotels, cost etc.)
4) do all the preparation about the place (reading, reading, reading)
5) just inform them about the cost and tell them what kind of clothing to bring along...
Well, that's the case. They all trust me to do everything as I've travelled more than all the rest of them, enjoy researching about a place and arranging everything before hand.
At first, I'd thought about Sri Lanka. I even posted a thread about it. However, India, Myanmar, Mauritius and the Maldives sound nice, also. I wouldn't leave out the Caribbean, either, or even Kenya and/or Zanzibar. There are so many possibilities for us, as we'll be flying out from Southern Europe.
Let me add that only me and my husband have travelled to SE Asia & the Caribbean some times before. All the others have not (Europe has been the only place for them), so the cultural shock will be great for them.
We'll all be in our late 30s-early 40s. We don't want to just get into a resort and spend all our days by the pool or at a beach. We could easily do this here, without spending so much money on airfare. We all like to end our day in a great hotel but we also want to see and do something more than this.
India will be great, I'm sure, but 10 days is too little, I think, even for the first time. And, like I said before, I'm a bit weary about the cultural shock for all the others. As for Sri Lanka & Myanmar, I think it's going to be more or less OK.
I'd really appreciate some advice, if you have any ideas.
tereza is offline  
Mar 5th, 2006, 09:44 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Okay, purely my opinions:
I've traveled the world, so a lot of people depend on me when planning a trip. My first advice is to talk to everyone about their tastes, their favorite vacations, etc. If you make decisions all by yourself, 2 things will happen: they will depend on you the whole trip, AND they will hold you responsible if they don't like something about the trip.

Having said that, if you really don't want a beach trip, Mauritius and Maldives, and really the Caribbean is out. You can consider Caribbean if you want certain activities, ex. scuba diving or sailing. If you want a beach vacation, my #1 pick is Maldives.
If you're worried about culture shock, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and India should be out too. MY OPINION is you need to build up to those places and be a fairly consistent traveler.
Kenya is all about safaris. There is culture shock, but on a different level as the above mentioned. There is a resort in South Africa, the same owners as the Atlantis in the Bahamas, this might please everyone.
Everybody that's ever been to BALI loves it, including myself. It's an excellent well rounded type destination. Turkey is pretty cool, but you probably need to go on tours to see everything.
You may want to consider a cruise. What's great abouot that, is everybody is "together", yet people can do their own thing too if they want. Cruises offer lots of activities, different kinds of food, lots of different places. you can see a place, for next time, to go back and explore more.
Start by having conversations with every. Get common factors. Then ask us for opinions.
blamona is offline  
Mar 5th, 2006, 10:24 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 4,870
Wow, that's really a tall order from your friends. I absolutely concur with everything blamona recommends (except for the parts of the world I've never visited, in which case I concur, but it's not based on actual experience).

Ask each person what the 4-5 most important things for this vacation are. See what is common for all of them. Then go from there. In the Caribbean, there are few islands that satisfy all requirements, but there are combinations of islands that could fit nearly everything one could dream of. The US and British Virgin Islands form one such island combo, in my opinion. Puerto Rico + Vieques could be another. St. Martin + Anguilla could be another.
ejcrowe is offline  
Mar 5th, 2006, 11:21 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
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I hope they're flying you out in business class with their pooled FF miles.

I would be wary if they've only been to Europe -- people tend to over-react to having to squat in toilets, so I'd forget about Turkey, Sri Lanka, India, and any other place where they're unlikely to have any ability to negotiate the language (which would exponentially exacerbate their dependency on you and their opportunities to feel helpless and frustrated about mundane matters).

I think this leaves the Caribbean open. To be honest, I'd think about what will also drive you the least crazy and allow you to enjoy your vacation too -- even if it's a less exotic trip, they won't even know what they're missing. It'd be really terrible to feel resentful on your own vacation...

I get annoyed when people seem dissatisfied with the hotel, even when they've chosen it (beacuse it's a little cheaper) amongst various options I've presented and when my personal recommendation was with another place. They seem disappointed that I didn't over-rule them... I mean it's crazy sometimes. I'm serious about the business class, I mean a nice dinner and them repeatedly saying, "You're the greatest, you're amazing" really isn't enough even if we do enjoy the planning ourselves, its just an incredible amount of work and emotional energy.

Oh, and finally, how can I become one of your friends?
fishee is offline  
Mar 5th, 2006, 12:13 PM
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I understand what you are saying about loving and researching a trip, BUT you are taking on a huge responsibility. I have planned trips for friends, my family of 10, and do all trips for the two of us. I don't think I will do it for friends again. My family is stuck with me, plus I pay for everything which makes it harder for them to complain when problems happen. And, problems always happen.

The hazards of planning a trip by yourself is that no one else knows the details. Everyone will look to you to make decisions. For meal plans. For sight seeing. For medical help. You will be in demand. Now if you can go on the trip without feeling responsible for everyone and for everything that goes wrong, do it.

Now if I haven't discouraged you, I second Bali. Absolutely beautiful with beautiful people. We've lived in Kenya, and have taken many January Interim students on safari in Kenya. On a safari, you would have a very set schedule, lodging, driver, etc. That would certainly make it easier for you. Myanmar is one of our favorite memories. Mainly because of the people.

The above posts have given you great advice. I hope I didn't come across too negative. My hat is off to you if you can pull this together. Please let us know what you decide and how it goes. Owa

Mar 5th, 2006, 01:00 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 339
The first thing to suggest is that if you are doing ALL the work for that many persons, they chip in and pay for your trip!!
Lisa1271 is offline  
Mar 5th, 2006, 02:00 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 59
ARE YOU CRAZY? (Yes, I am yelling). You will be blamed for everything, questioned on everything and you will have to handle everything as if you were the tour guide. I may be wrong, if your friends are calm, easygoing and not like anyone I know!
barnrt is offline  
Mar 5th, 2006, 02:56 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 83
Wow, you are either REALLY nice or REALLY insane. I'm guessing on the nice bit. Firstly understand that you will never please them all, they will all bitch and moan at you, you will spend the whole time stressing that SOMEONE is unhappy and I'm guessing that it will mostly be you. After living in 8 different countries in the past 20 years, I've done an enormous amount of travelling and I hate it when people ask me to do this. I never seem to get it right, no matter how long I spend researching, fretting, questioning, fretting some more and yes like you I get asked because I have travelled more than most. With respect, take the "doormat" sign off your forehead and tell your well meaning friends to take responsibility for their own holiday before you get an ulcer. You sound like such a nice kind person. On the other hand you could do several shots (or wine, or beer or whatever...) and all throw darts at a map and then where ever it lands thats where you go. Problem solved.
jjah is offline  
Mar 5th, 2006, 03:33 PM
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OP doesn't sound like an idiot or a doormat -- sounds like someone her friends trust and admire as a competent and savvy traveler/shopper. They are probably right if they're thinking whatever they plan, she could probably do it better. It's just an issue of whether it's worth it for you and if it will interfere with the pleasure of your own vacation. If you're not too OCD about it (like I am...) I could see how this could be fun.
fishee is offline  
Mar 6th, 2006, 08:47 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 116
I have done this now five years in a row for family and friends. I do as the above posters have suggested and ask what their favorite vacation was, why, what their priority is for this vacation. Some people have MUSTS. Like hot water showers, running toilets, 5 star hotels, etc. I inform all parties going with us that if they don't speak up ahead of time then they can't complain. Believe it or not, it has worked. The cruise idea is a great one as the pressure is off you. They can choose to do excursions to see the country/island or not. Most large trip companies will let you go for free if you have enough friends going. That would save you from asking them for any reimbursment for your hard work. In addition to the replys above, I would suggest looking into Costa Rica if it fits into your criteria. It offers beaches, rain forest, volcanoes, cloud forest, etc. Good luck.
DOCROX is offline  
Mar 6th, 2006, 09:01 AM
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Posts: 1,575
The Seychells (esp. Praslin and La Digue islands),Mauritius and Kenya Coast incl. Lamu all superb choices.
But also consider the rise of a little reported outbreak of mosquito-borne
dengue-like fever called 'chikungunya', Swahili for doubled over in pain, now
spreading all over the Indian Ocean
area with cases reported in all the
off-shore island and some on mainland.
Google the term for more info.
Given the tourism business, it's not talked about. But since there's no
antidote and no cure, an important
consideration. Would maybe suggest
Gabon and Sao Tome e Principe instead
on West Coast Africa...
tivertonhouse is offline  
Mar 6th, 2006, 09:04 AM
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Seychelles/can't spell this morning.
Of all places, The Drudge Report this past month alerted us to problem, with conditions confirmed back to us from
friends on Seychelles.
tivertonhouse is offline  
Mar 7th, 2006, 04:08 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 164
Someone earlier mentioned South Africa, and I'd like to second that suggestion. About 10 yrs. ago, my grad school roommate took on a similar role and organized a trip for four of us to go to SA, which is her home country. We had a wonderful, wonderful time, and I still think of SA as one of the most beautiful and varied places I've been. Depending on your group's interests (which I agree would be essential to figure out), you could find plenty to do, and although it has an exotic appeal, it's still a first world country, which may make things easier for those in your group who are not as experienced travelling.

When I went, we had three weeks and were able to cover a lot of ground, but for a 10-day trip, you could still see a lot. Cape Town is wonderful, with a lot of great restaurants and Table Mtn., which is well worth the trip up (hike it, instead of taking the cable car, for a really great experience). Nearby, you can also visit SA's wonderful wine country, as well as lovely beaches and resort towns. I can give you more specifics if you're interested. We stayed mostly in B&Bs and with friends, but there are some lovely hotels as well. Add in a drive along the Garden Route and a trip to a game preserve (such as Kruger Nat'l. Park), and you'd see a lot of the highlights.

In terms of the issue about being the sole organizer, maybe we just had a mellow group, but I was thrilled that my friend planned the trip and found places for us to stay. The only disagreement I can remember having is that she wanted us to see Sun City, and I thought that was a waste of time. But all in all, it was a fantastic experience. Let me know if you want more info.
jspen is offline  
Mar 7th, 2006, 04:35 PM
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Posts: 411
I would suggest that you take all the people to your local deli. Once there you order all the sandwiches and drinks. When the sandwiches are brought to the table they can't trade. Then stand back and see how many people complain. That will give you an idea of what the trip will be like.
bobrad is offline  
Mar 7th, 2006, 04:49 PM
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Jspen: So did you end up going to Sun City and what were your final thoughts on it? Went there 2 or 3 times. When I was much younger, I thought it was great, now I can look back at it and think what a monstrosity in the middle of such a beautiful country. A bit over the top, don't you think?

Tereza: Another vote for South Africa. Although if you're talking about April next month, I don't think you can make it happen. So maybe the next big trip? My parents worked in South Africa for years and I'd go visit for the summers. Truly a beautiful country. My favorite memories: the game reserves, Cape Town and the music. There are so many varied things to do, you're sure to please everyone. Jspen gave very good examples. Good luck if you chose to do that. LOTS of research!

Owa: Hi. How many years were you in Kenya?

caribtraveler is offline  
Mar 8th, 2006, 07:10 AM
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Yes, we did end up going to Sun City, and I did think it was over the top! As I said, that was our only big disagreement on the itinerary. My feeling was that I didn't go to Africa to end up in a place that felt like Las Vegas--especially as it's such a startling contrast to the poverty of surrounding areas. But we did visit the game reserve there, which was a highlight of the trip. That one is not as big as Kruger N.P., but it was more accessible for us. So it worked out in the end...

All in all, I ended up feeling that EVERYTHING was worth the trip, even if it wasn't my particular cup of tea, because I was able to see the wide variety of what South Africa had to offer. In our 3-1/2 weeks, we were able to spend time in Pretoria with my friend's family, see some local sights there and in Johannesberg, then we DROVE to Cape Town (a 16 hr. trip!), stopping in the Karoo (SA's large, central desert area) along the way. Then we hit CT, wine country, the Garden Route (New Year's eve on the beach!), more Karoo on the way back, and finally Sun City. In some ways, Sun City was an odd way to end the trip, as it didn't feel really African, but it gave us a chance to unwind from all the driving around.

As I said, I'm happy to provide more specific advice on where to go, if tereza wants more details. I'd love to go back!
jspen is offline  
Mar 11th, 2006, 06:36 AM
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BoBrad, excellent reply and clearly so much better received than mine! . Fishee, please read carefully, I would never call anyone an idiot, I simply think tereza is being too NICE. Tereza what about Australia? its a beautiful country and us Aussies have a great sense of humour, seriously, we do.....
jjah is offline  
Mar 13th, 2006, 05:17 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 134
My one piece of advise is this........

Come up with a couple different options and put it to a vote, this way majority rules, and if and when someone does not like something, your response can be that majority ruled.....

mzambo is offline  
Apr 19th, 2006, 10:30 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 1,222
As someone who loves researching destinations (and, admittedly, a total control freak) my friends usually charge me with planning our vacations. I'm guessing Tereza gets "stuck" with the task because she enjoys it and she's knowledgable about it. But hopefully your friends will at least buy you a beer.

You might want to ask everyone to send you their two favorite vacations they've taken and their top two dream destinations. You may get lucky and everyone may put similar "dream" destinations. But you can also base your pick on their fave vacations from the past -- whether they tend to prefer luxury, adventure, relaxation, culture, etc.

What about a safari? It's one of those trips that everyone has on their "someday" list, but people rarely plan for themselves. And they may feel more comfortable doing it as a group. You can also stay at a nice lodge so everyone has a comfort zone.

Let us know what you eventually pick!
karameli is offline  
Apr 20th, 2006, 12:16 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 2,498
Think about Costa Rica.
It's beautiful, the Ticos are very friendly, and you can go from the mountains to the beach. You can do a canopy tour, hike in a rain forest, surf, visit volcanos...
We stayed near the beach and still had one of our best trips ever.
I preferred Costa Rica to the Caribbean, Aruba or Mexico.
angethereader is offline  

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