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Ground rules for traveling with friends and relatives.

Ground rules for traveling with friends and relatives.

Mar 1st, 2007, 06:17 AM
Original Poster
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Ground rules for traveling with friends and relatives.

How have you handled traveling with relatives and friends? Finances, planning, schedules, etc?

Has any of you come up with the commandments of traveling together all things considered?

We are traveling with relatives and two teens and want to make sure we have an enjoyable, hassle free trip.

We were caught totally off guard during a past trip with other friends and burderned financially (pay now, we will pay you back later - among other things)
epaulino is offline  
Mar 1st, 2007, 06:22 AM
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I think sitting down with everyone and going over these points before the fact, is key. You can decide what things you might want to do together and also plan time where everyone has an afternoon to go their own way for awhile. Then you can come back together over dinner and discuss the things you did that day. Makes for fun dinner-time conversation.

Talk with your teens and see if there's something specific that they're wanting to see and do and make sure it's worked into the itinerary. Let them have a day to plan the itinerary for the family.
sandi_travelnut is offline  
Mar 1st, 2007, 06:47 AM
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Don't plan on doing everything together.
Build in time on your own doing what you enjoy and meet up for a meal, at an exhibit or event as agreed.
Make sure everyone is aware of this beforehand and is comfortable doing things solo or in couples.

You'll enjoy each others company more and have things to talk about over shared meals if you don't try and continuously move en masse!
highflyer is offline  
Mar 1st, 2007, 06:50 AM
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I'm sure that one could write down an exhaustive list of rules - the list could go on for pages.

Having been the "arranger" for a "major" trip involving 4 couples, where some expenses were shared and others were separate, I think it's important, as sandi says, to have that first meeting. Agree upon objectives, housing, travel, etc. and require that all pre-travel costs be paid upfront by each party. Don't even get in the "pay you back later" situation. If that even starts to look like a possibilty, you're traveling with the wrong people.

knoxvillecouple is offline  
Mar 1st, 2007, 06:55 AM
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i donīt have any new,brainy ideas.. but.. we usually have a common fund for the gas, tolls and parking.

also, depending on who it is, we just pay as we go in restaurants.

it is a good idea for people to make an effort of having small bills most of the time as it can get complicated at pay time.

some people do a common pot for everything,, but i eat a lot differently than some travel friends, and i donīt drink, so..

one important thing is to let people have their space and free time.

if some donīt want to go into the church.. just meet later and donīt waste time trying to convince them.

this is a complaint a friend has with some people they used to travel with.. too many opinions about when and where to eat..when to g into a sight.. now.. no later.. after lunch.. etc.

everyone should carry a card or two from the hotel and 20 euros in case they get lost, or need to go back to the hotel earlier.

have a general agreed-upon itinerary.. and downtime so each can explore in depth what he/she likes best when possible.

should be a trip full of great memories. enjoy!

lincasanova is offline  
Mar 1st, 2007, 07:00 AM
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For communal expenses use a communal purse which is fed ahead of time by equal sums--everyone puts in 100€. One person is in charge and reminds everyone when the purse is depleted. We always assumed that while individuals may order different things in a restaurant, some more expensive than others, that eventually it all evens out.
Michael is online now  
Mar 1st, 2007, 07:27 AM
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Because we're credit card travelers, that communal purse idea doesn't work well for us. But we have one person keep a simple log (usually me). We take turns paying for dinner, or four tickets to an attraction and it goes into the log under the column for whomever paid. Every few days we look at it and see if either couple is ahead, then the other couple charges. At the end of the trip we settle up, which is usually a very minimal amount since we've been taking turns. Works fine for us.

And yes, I think if we didn't decide in advance that we share costs equally, we'd be driving ourselves crazy. We do feel it all equals out.

We also decide in advance that there is no rule we must all do the same thing. No point in one or two people suffering through doing something they really don't want to do.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Mar 1st, 2007, 07:33 AM
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I just couldn't travel with friends and ESPECIALLY not relatives! My husband and I have discussed it. About the only type of trip we could see ourselves taking with others is visiting an all-inclusive resort, or taking a cruise, where not a lot of mutual decisions had to be made, no one had to decide how much money to spend on dinner, etc.
missypie is offline  
Mar 1st, 2007, 07:52 AM
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Hi E,

>...burderned financially (pay now, we will pay you back later ...

That's a major "don't".

>I just couldn't travel with friends and ESPECIALLY not relatives! <

Having done both, when I was young and inexperienced, I second that.

ira is offline  
Mar 1st, 2007, 07:55 AM
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So you travel solo?
Michael is online now  
Mar 1st, 2007, 08:37 AM
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Much of my traveling has been done with relatives. It doesn't start out that way, but then various family members usually invite themselves along - and how do you tell mom & dad they can't come.

Anyway, I agree that sitting down to discuss things beforehand is very important - but don't be surprised if during the trip somehow whatever was discussed and agreed upon gets thrown out the window.

Be wary of the people that tell you they don't care what they schedule is and they'll do whatever you want to do. At some point you'll find out they do have an opinion and it may not always be the same as yours.
chepar is offline  
Mar 1st, 2007, 08:50 AM
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I guess I'll try to add something constructive.

1. Don't think you have to stay together at all times. If your relatives/friends insist, take this as a bad omen.

2. Try to get to the bottom line of how they want to handle meals. You cannot make any assumptions based on income level. My inlaws are loaded, but if they happen upon a gas station passing out free hot dogs, that's dinner. Is dinner every night going to be an "event"? Or will they want to bring food back to the flat or cook? Or eat at McDonalds? Are they adventurious eaters? You need to frankly discuss how much each family is COMFORTABLE spending on a meal.
missypie is offline  
Mar 1st, 2007, 09:03 AM
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We too require everyone to pay up front first. Since we're usually renting a villa and there's a deposit, you're committed well ahead of time. And we include some money for utilities, food, etc. If someone backs out, they lose all their money unless a replacement can be found to buy in.

As far as food is concerned, every body keeps their receipt, marks it with their name, and puts it in an envelope. Back home at the end of the trip, my husband works out -- using an Excel spreadsheet -- who owes what to whom.

It's better to rent 2 cars instead of one big van. Big cars are hard to drive in small European towns. And, with 2 vehicles, you have more flexibility. Onr car can go one place, the other another place.
Mimar is offline  
Mar 1st, 2007, 09:17 AM
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epaulino: I've been the primary planner (willingly) for a few friend trips and some family ones as well. I have excerpted some details about one expereience from a previously posted trip report and have pasted them below.

Bottom line - the trip was great and I would do it again. The most valuable tip I could give you re group travel is that you don't all have to be alike but the perfect planner types have to be willing to loosen up a bit and the complete 'seat of their pants' types have to be willing to endure a bit more structure! If everyone understand this in advance you'll be fine. Have fun!!


THE TRAVELLERS: Three couples celebrating four 40th birthdays. 5 of us have known each other for many years and the other was my boyfriend of approx. one year. For those worried about mixing 'new' friend with 'old' friends, I can tell you that our experience was good - though it helped that the new guy was pretty laid back and the old friends were great about making him feel part of the group. We had three different travel styles among us - some who liked to wing everything and fancies themselves as the backpackers they once were (even though they are not-so-young yuppies now), some (okay, one) who liked to plan as much as possible in advance (thank you Fodor's!) to ensure that all meals were excellent and no must-see sights were missed, and the others fell somewhere in between. To deal with this we agreed to plan some of the days in advance, arranged for a cook to prepare and serve us a typical Tuscan meal at out villa one night and booked one foodie dinner in Florence, the other days and meals were left up to chance.

- if going as a group try to hammer out the must sees and must dos in advance so you don't have to deal with it there.

- decide what you are going to do as a group and what you would like to split up for, that way you will know if you need more than one car, more than one road map, rental cell phones, etc.

- if there are things you want to do that depend on good weather (picnics, hikes, etc.) be flexible with your daily plans and do them when the weather is fair. We had planned to ‘take the waters’ at Bagno Vignoni (near San Quirico D’Orcia) but left it until later in the week when it was too rainy to go (this in spite of packing our bathing suits with us each morning just in case)!

- if you are renting a villa and planning to make some meals there discuss how you will handle cooking. I was concerned that we would end up eating the same food we ate at home if we didn't put some thought into meal prep - and I think I would have been right if I hadn't done the cooking for us. Granted the others I was with are parents and probably just wanted to chill out and not prepare meals on our trip but this wasn't the understanding before we left. I had envisioned us lovingly preparing Italian feasts to linger over, but the others just weren't interested in cooking. Luckily I like to cook because there weren't any take-out joints in town! If eating and drinking is a big part of your travel experience make sure you discuss this ahead of time and I would suggest budgeting to eat out more or have a cook prepare meals at the villa a few nights if your companions aren't that interested in cooking.

- reading Barb's posting about her travel with Diva's has me thinking that different attitudes at meal time can really make or break a group holiday (can you tell I'm the one who likes to plan a lot and hates to eat a bad meal?!) Luckily no one I travelled with was that intractable (I'm just not buying the I have to eat by 6:30 story as an unbreakable rule! Remember "when in Rome...") but I think the answer should be compromise. If someone is always happy with one course or a sandwich and others like a big leisurely dinner, or if some like to eat early and some like to eat late - I think you should do both things at least once together - then at other times maybe you split up for meals. I find the answer not to eat together unsatisfying as it is a group trip and obviously you like each other enough to travel overseas together so why not compromise and do what one party wants some of the time and what the other wants at other times. It's not going to kill either of you to give a little as long as you are getting your way some of the time - isn't that what friends do for each other when they are at home?
kireland is offline  
Mar 1st, 2007, 09:19 AM
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Forgot to mention that I totally agree with Mimar re getting two rental cars. We did this and it was definitely worth the little extra expense!
kireland is offline  
Mar 1st, 2007, 09:28 AM
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I have travelled with friends in the past and agree with some of the suggestions already made.
What has worked for me:
1. Make sure that EVERYONE has input into the itinerary. Have lots of informal discussions about what people would like to see and do. Decide on the itinerary in advance but make sure EVERYONE feels like they are seeing what they want to see.
2. You are not bound at the hip. If someone wants to do an art gallery and someone else wants to see the castle - it is fine to separate.
3. It is only fair to share the driving if possible and any non-drivers should be prepared and ready to navigate.
Navigator sits up front with the driver period. Maps are a common expense.
4. EVERYONE should keep a record of what they are spending and EVERY night any common expenses that someone paid should be divied up fairly. I believe in doing meals immediately; gas at the end of the day.
5. Your own expenses (like alcohol) are your problem. Alcohol and personal items should NEVER come out of common expenses.
6. If you have a common expense "pot" - be sure to agree well before the trip EXACTLY what expenses can use the common "pot".
7. Be sure to agree on what type and level of accomodation is acceptable to everyone. Also what type of dining will be acceptable to all.
semiramis is offline  
Mar 1st, 2007, 09:32 AM
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Good luck! I personally find traveling with one other like-minded traveler is best. When we've traveled in even a small group, it's frustrating how much time is lost, because people move at different paces and want to discuss the agenda endlessly. Makes me crazy. But we don't even like to ski with a group-- "which run should we do next", "when are we stopping for lunch", "I need a break", . . ." ARRGH.
Mar 1st, 2007, 09:37 AM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 36,438
Years ago, we really hesitated when two single female friends both much younger than we are asked if we could all go to New York together for 5 nights. Since we are all totally into theatre and enjoy the same kind of dining, we finally agreed. I've never had so much fun. They were ideal traveling companions -- always ready at the appointed hour, willing to try anything, and just a whole lot of fun to be with. (although we could have done without Amy calling us "Uncle Lee and Uncle Pat" every time we were in public which they both thought was hysterical - LOL).

After that we made five trips together including three trips of two weeks each to Europe. Those trips were the most fun we've ever had traveling. Unfortunately one is now married and the other is now attached -- so that ended that. But if you can happen upon travel companions who are as good as ours were, it adds rather than detracts from the experience.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Mar 1st, 2007, 09:41 AM
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If at all possible, it would be great to plan a weekend trip together close to home - if you're going to tour a European city, tour a nearby US city for a weekend first; if you're going hiking in the Alps, hike at a nearby park with them first. That way, if you find out that you just can't travel together, you will have invested a small amount of time and money, rather than a large amount.
missypie is offline  
Mar 1st, 2007, 09:45 AM
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Although we have met many people along our journeys, we really only travel for long periods of time with one other couple, and so far the trips have been a blast.

No hard and fast commandments, but we have found out some of the following make the trip better.

1 - Unless driving into Florence (where you need many sets of eyes), only one navigator is usually needed. Three people reading maps is a recipe for disaster (although it can make for entertaining stories later).

2 - All our dinners and lunches are split evenly. If someone has an extra glass of wine or dessert, we don't care (the only exception to this would be if someone just isn't hungry and orders just a salad, the other couple usually throws in 20 euros or so).

In my travels, I have sat next to people trying to calculate how much everyone owes down to the nearest euro, and it is truthfully painful to watch. I remember sitting next to four women in an outdoor cafe in Florence in the mid 90s. I think they are still sitting there calculating their bill.

3 - Although I plan out our trip and have an outline of what and where we can go each day, it helps to be flexible.

4 - As many have stated: don't plan on doing everything together. Some alone time with your spouse is a good thing.

5 - A late afternoon of wine and cheese on your hotel rooftop or patio is rejuvenating for everyone.

6 - Here's one we discovered on our 2005 trip to Italy. If you put the wrong gas in the car, everyone should share in the blame.

7 - The most important. A little laughter goes a long way. Although in our case, it is a LOT of laughter. Enjoy the Journey. Attitude is everything.

maitaitom is offline  

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