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Bad Idea - Planning Travel w/Ignorant Friend (long vent)

Bad Idea - Planning Travel w/Ignorant Friend (long vent)

Old Nov 18th, 2005, 10:35 PM
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Bad Idea - Planning Travel w/Ignorant Friend (long vent)

Hi all. This is more a vent than an assassination of my friend's ignorance and character. We're attempting to plan a trip to Italy in February for Carnival, but it's not going to work out for me the way things are...here's some background:

Even though I read Barb's posting (and bless her soul for having the good sense to not dump them!), I was already well underway in planning this trip with said friend. I was bemoaning the fact that I'm being left behind while my entire work group is going to a meeting in Venice, so I mentioned that I would even act as gofer to serve their every need, if I could only follow. She latches onto my moment of self-pity and proposes that we go to Venice together. Great...I've had good experiences traveling with other friends before, why not. We make a deal. She is silent for days, and I think nothing of it since it's in February, and I've got a sore throat. amp;

Fast forward a week; I've been looking at flights and hotels, and since I've always wanted to go see Carnival, I call her up and propose that we see at least a day or so of the celebrations, and enjoy ourselves. Next thing I know, she's already booked a hotel I suggested for the entire Carnival, without telling me. I tell her to chill out. As we're talking about travel dates on the phone, I'm looking up flights online. I then tell her about the flights I found for the dates we ended up agreeing on, which ranged in price from $600 to $1400 per person, depending on airline. The cheapest is Iberia Air, but they require that we have a 6 hour layover (Madrid) going, and an overnight layover (Barcelona) returning. Next thing I hear from her is "Oh, this is great! I don't mind the stopover, and we can stay a few days to explore." I tell her it's not that way, but if we want to stay and explore for longer, then we can look at our options on the site again and choose accordingly. I want to throw my head against a brick wall. Thankfully (?) I don't hear from her for another few days.

Not quitting while I'm ahead, I call her again. This time, I want to ask her what she has in mind for this trip, since I know this is her first trip to Venice, and I wanted to make sure we had the same goals going forward. Her wishes - eat, gondola, take pictures, see beach, go to Parthenon. Huh?!?! I tell her Parthenon is in Greece, she must be talking about the Pantheon. I'm asked what kind of travel dates I was talking about. HUH?!?! She thought I meant a date to take on travel. No, darling, it's just us, to which I hear a huge sigh of relief, as she said "Great! That means I can pick up cute Italian hotties!" HUH?!?!?! But she's in a long term relationship. So I backtrack. "What do you expect out of this trip?" I naively ask. "Oh, I just want to travel" Ok. Why do you want to travel to Venice. "Oh, I don't really want to travel to Venice. I would prefer Paris, but not with all that's going on in Paris right now." But have you seen the news? That's happening in the suburbs, not so much Eiffel Tower Paris. "Oh, but you never know." Ok. Fear understood and respected, and ignorance of friend is starting to grate on me.

I then ask her to give me her European wishlist. France is the only one on her wishlist. She thinks France is a city, I tell her Paris is a city in France. A comes on in her head. I get the following list: Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Germany, and the Pyramids in Egypt. Fine, at least we're narrowing down the field somewhat. What do you want to see in each particular country? France - Notre Dame, the Louvre. Italy - cream puffs, gelato, gondolas, Parthenon, beach. Greece - everything. Cyprus - sounds interesting. Germany - isn’t that the place with a lot of Disney castles? Plus, she hears it’s nice. Egypt - pyramids. I ask her if Venice is where she’d really like to spend her time. No, Venice is not her first choice, Paris is. I suggest we plan a trip to Paris, but again, the fear of the riots (did I mention she’s a trained psychotherapist from Columbia U?). I ask her if she’d really want to go to Venice. Yes. Why, I ask naively...”Because no one ever wants to travel with me. Everyone always has an excuse, be it not enough time or not enough money. You sounded like you wanted to go and travel, and I’ve never been to Europe before, so I wanted to go with you since you know what you want to do. In the end, all I want to do is eat and take pictures.” I bite my tongue and hit my head against brick wall.

I ask her how much she’s willing to spend on this trip. She tells me about $1500, but if pressed $2000, and would prefer to use her miles for an airline ticket, would get me my ticket since after I helped her with her hotel portion, it would effectively even out. In fact, she’s already taken the initiative to reserve our tickets already! I’m thinking in my head, shouldn’t we have discussed this earlier? She keeps mentioning that she has no intention of buying Louis Vuitton bags, so she’ll easily keep within her budget (there are other Italian brands than Louis Vuitton!). Then she mentions again that she would really like to pick up a cutie Italian for a fling, which I will have a problem with if she brings her fling to our room since we’re sharing (and I’m not a voyeur, nor am I willing to be put out if they want some “privacy” in the middle of the night when I’m trying to get my rest - this has happened to a friend before!). I try to get her back on track, and ask what is important to her on this trip - I get food, photographic opportunities, Carnival for a few days since I can’t go the whole time, and if it’s difficult to travel to other places from Venice with all the gondolas.

Anyway, I ask her to go to a library, bookstore, or surf online, and figure out what she’d like to do before we commit one penny to this trip. She tells me she doesn’t need to do any of that so long as I know what I want to do, which doesn’t sit well with me. Basically, she wants to tag along on my trip, but she will make uninformed suggestions along the way. Did I mention that our mutual friends have already warned me of severe whining and random incomprehensible freak-out sessions?

I know I should run while I still can, and I will. To spare her feelings, I will allow her a chance to research and maybe pull her own weight. If I hear nothing by this weekend, our trip is off, and I will travel solo. I’d much rather enjoy myself than be a charity to someone who no one will travel with (by her own accord). After all, it is my vacation, as selfish as I may sound at this point.
mcnyc is offline  
Old Nov 18th, 2005, 10:42 PM
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You sound like a prime candidate for solo travel. With friends like that, you will learn to love it! If you allow her to tag along, be sure she books her own hotel rooms.
Holly_uncasdewar is offline  
Old Nov 18th, 2005, 10:48 PM
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From what you describe, I agree with Holly_uncasdewar, you are better off travelling alone. Your friend is pretty confused about the places she wants to visit and is pretty fickle as well it appears. I would think if this friend went along with you, it wouldn't feel like a happy vacation for you.
francophile03 is offline  
Old Nov 19th, 2005, 01:33 AM
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if you continue and have this trip with her, you'll be ripe for a therapy. will you take her as your therapist? if yes, dump her right away, if not, dump her right away also.
baldrick is offline  
Old Nov 19th, 2005, 05:06 AM
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O*M*G* she sounds like the epitome of blondeness (no offense to blondes meant since I am one.)

I'd stay home before I'd travel with her.
Carrybean is offline  
Old Nov 19th, 2005, 05:13 AM
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Well in the interest of us Fodorites who enjoyed Barb's tale, I think you should go with her so when we're bored in February we can look forward to your trip report. Kidding.

Seriously, I think what I might do in this situation is a compromise between taking her and dumping her. First, I'd plan what I would do if I were to go solo - pick the dates, the flights, and the hotel you want. Then tell her this is what you are doing and if she'd like to come along you'd enjoy the company, but this is the trip you are taking this winter. If she wants to go to Cyprus or Paris, you'll consider it some other year. Do YOU want to go just to Venice, or would you like to add in somewhere else also? I'd still pick the destination on you own though, without her input.

If YOU want would prefer to share a room to keep costs down that's one thing but otherwise I'd suggest you each getting your own room. If you do share, make sure she knows any flings will have to occuur somewhere other than your room. Then I'd explain to her that even though you'll be together alot, when you travel you split up with your travel companion numerous times throughout the trip for a few hours so you can each do what you want. If she knows this going into it you can't feel guilty when you need time alone.
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Old Nov 19th, 2005, 05:19 AM
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I like Isabel's idea. Make your own plans and see if she's agreeable to them. If not, go solo!

monicapileggi is offline  
Old Nov 19th, 2005, 05:25 AM
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I'm confused about the original purpose of the trip. Didn't you say it is a business trip, but that you asekd to tag along. If it's a business trip, isn't the location set, and isn't the employer paying for airfare and the hotel during the meeting or business portion of the trip? If you are now included on the business trip, can't you just go together for the business portion, and then when it's over, part company and take your own solo tended vacation, to places you choose, at your expense?
cmt is offline  
Old Nov 19th, 2005, 05:28 AM
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Very good advice from Isabel.

ira is offline  
Old Nov 19th, 2005, 06:22 AM
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To back up what Isabel said, you are leaving too many questions open-ended, and you are not taking the lead. While normally I would advocate consensus, clearly, once she started booking hotels without clearance, this was not going to be a case of mutual decision-making. So you need to say simply, "here are the dates I am going, here is where I will be staying, if this is okay with you, you are welcome to join me. However, I will be booking my ticket independently - if it should happen you wish to take the same flight, I'll leave it up to you and we'll coordinate our seating with the airline after you buy your ticket. This way, if you wish to use a different airline to use up miles, then I will meet you in Venice. However, either way, neither of us will be held accountable for financial decisions the other one makes independently." (and if she can't see the logic of that last rule now, she won't later.)

You say she has 'already booked the tickets' and from your end, you maintain you never authorized this. Starting right now, if anything is bought without hearing from you by email (in other words, in writing) you must stand firm and leave her to pay for her own follies. I wouldn't care if she were a master planner, I wouldn't allow her to undertake to make financial commitments on my behalf. As for the hotties, sounds like you had best start booking your own separate rooms, so that you can have your privacy (and she hers, for whatever she plans to do.)
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Old Nov 19th, 2005, 07:14 AM
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Honestly, I think you're setting yourself up, and her, for a terrible trip. Stop the presses right now and abandon ship (mixed metaphors right and 2nd right). You're already exasperated with her, and you haven't even boarded the plane -- it can only get worse. If I were your close friend, I'd say get out while the getting's good because this person's not going to improve and the friction of close-quarters travel will destroy any good relationship. If I were HER best friend (your proposed companion), I'd say you already have a bad attitude toward her, and that's not going to improve, esp. the minute there's a dispute or a hitch in the plans.

This is an ill-fated trip, and you need to not wait to see what her next move or comment is going to be. Take charge of yourself, and bail.
HKP is offline  
Old Nov 19th, 2005, 09:05 AM
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Save yourself some misery and DO NOT travel with this person! If she is this bad now, think of how horrible she will be once she is out of her usual comfortable environment. This does not sound like someone flexible enough to "roll with the punches" if there is whoops along the way. And in Italy there is frequently a "whoops" somewhere. She may actually freak out!

Travel can be stressful and requires a sense of humor and adventure. This person is behaving oddly at baseline. With her strange expectations, she WILL be disappointed. Big warning sign!
nibblette is offline  
Old Nov 19th, 2005, 09:07 AM
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I'm disagree... I'm not sure this is a disaster in the making at all.

This person doesn't really care where they go, doesn't have big list of itinerary must-dos, has enough cash for the trip, seems willing to take some actions (reserving tentative flights and hotel) in your own words "basically she wants to tag along on my trip".

For me I don't see a problem with that as long as YOU can come to terms with it. Not everyone is a big planner, avid researcher, or has a life long list of places they want to go in the world.

She just wants to come along, see something, go somewhere, and eat some good food. As long as she is good to her word about doing what you say, she sounds like a perfect companion to me!

The one thing I would change is to get two separate single rooms at your hotel. If she can manage to pick up an "Italian hottie" more power to her.

That said, if you truly want to travel solo and are just to chicken to tell this woman that, well that is your problem not hers. If you don't want to go on a trip with her (she herself said no one else will travel with her!) you must tell her so, the sooner the better.
suze is online now  
Old Nov 19th, 2005, 09:18 AM
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Ignorant is such a harsh term, especially when referring to a true friend.

Be saint and "teach" the poor lost soul some of your vastly superior wisdom and travel smarts.

You will feel highly enlightened and gracious and she will treasure this kind gesture for a lifetime.

Get your own room just in case you snag your own hot italian "momma's boy."
degas is offline  
Old Nov 19th, 2005, 10:18 AM
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I think you're being very harsh on your friend. This morning I booked a trip to Duseldorf for Easter. I know nothing about the city (yet!) and it's certainly never been on my wishlist, but I had some airmiles to spend and the flights and hotel were at the right price, so I thought "why not?"

I'll do some research beforehand and I'm sure I'll have a great time exploring somewhere new. I'm looking forward to eating, drinking and taking lots of pictures, but I won't be looking for a cute German "hottie", since my DH will be with me
Xenos is offline  
Old Nov 19th, 2005, 10:45 AM
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My opinion is that you should run for the hills. Go alone and be able to do and see what you want. It sounds like the two of you have different ideas in mind of what you want to accomplish on this trip.

Or, as Isabel said, you can go with her and give us some great trip report reading when you return.
Statia is offline  
Old Nov 19th, 2005, 01:44 PM
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"If she can manage to pick up some Italian hottie, more power to her."

I knew I should never have watched that movie "Thelma and Louise", still less read that book, "Looking for Mr. Goodbar."
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Old Nov 19th, 2005, 03:23 PM
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There are two sides to every story....either way you should both travel alone...

Good Luck

Mucky is offline  
Old Nov 19th, 2005, 03:35 PM
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RUN, mcnyc, RUN!!!
Dayle is offline  
Old Nov 19th, 2005, 03:47 PM
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I read your vent, then went back and just quickly skimmed the emoticons only-and they express the following strong message:
Whether or not you go to same same destination at the same time, and see each other while there, inder NO circumstances should you share a room.
And you should both make your own arrangements.
If you know much more than she does-give her some website information and let her find her way.
If she's a Columbia trained psychotherapist she must have decent research skills anyhow.

It seems you are already entangled in a clear "passive aggressive toxic relationship" from the get go. No judgement, nobody's fault, there are probably two sides to it, but that's my take.

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