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Ground rules for traveling with friends and relatives.

Ground rules for traveling with friends and relatives.

Old Mar 1st, 2007, 09:50 AM
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epalino I have traveled with Family too. Did a 13 day trip with the In Laws last year, it started out bumpy but all in all it was Fantastic. Were already planning another one.

I feel like when it comes to money (whether family or Not) never offer to give any for payment later. It never works. Make that very clear. And I recommend everyone meeting for at least one meal aday. To catch up or plan something together. We made ground rules too, stuff like;

If your not in the lobby on time, we ain't waiting.

Call before going to anyones room. Slip a note under the door. No suprise knocks, that's just rude.

No loaning money. It always leads to hard feeling.

Any teen throwing a fit will not be tolerated. Nothing like hauling your kids to Europe and they are bored and want to stay behind and play game boy or whatever.

But We had a blast together. I cherish the memories. My post is on the Rome page. If you need a laugh check it out.
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 10:16 AM
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First of all - don't - unless you know them very well (as in life-long) and have accepted each other's eccentricities. (Every one is eccentric in some ways. If you don;t know theirs you don;t know them well enough to travel with them.)

Second- discuss EVERYTHING up front. Make sure everyone is involved so no one feels what THEY want to do has been ignored.

Finances - is the biggest issue. Make sure everyone knows they must pay their way as they go. And have a detailed budget worked out before putting up any money (so they can;t say - oh, I thouhg it would be $75 for the hotel or $10 for dinner). Make sure they have committeed to spending $5,000 - or whatever - and actually have the money in hand.

Separation - you can;t spend that long 24 hours per day with anyone without wanting to kill them at least once. Make sure everyone agrees you will split into groups at times (to follow different interests - or just get away) and that no one will have hard feelings about this. Also, make sure everyone feels comfortable (ie not fearful or confused) when they have to deal with something alone.

Meals - either make sure you have similar apetities, budgets and requirements (NO very picky eaters) or agree up front that you will disagree and eat some meals separately.

Timing - make sure you agree what you can expect in terms of time to leave in the am, who likes sleeping in after a late night and who wants to go for a walk at 7am (and that they may be walking alone). And does anyone take 2 hours from rising to leaving the room (meaning you need more baths)?

You don;t say if you will be traveling by train or plane or car. If either of the former make sure that everyone is reliable enough timewise that you won;t miss trains or planes. If the latter - figure out how to deal with 2 cars (no car in europe will hold 6 - no matter the luggage - and 2 moderate size cars is a better idea than a people mover (that you would need for 6 plus luggage). Who will drive? Who will navigate? And do you have enough drivers - it's not fair for one person to do it all and not see the scenery. (The beau and I always split driving essentially 50/50 on road trips. When we traveled with my B and SIL she was the only one who didn;t drive - so we split driving time 3 ways.)

If you can organize all the above - the trip should work. If any don;t seem realistic I would rethink the trip.
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 10:21 AM
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Pet peeve about traveling with another couple (hint, hint, my husband's brother and sister-in-law) - they are completely open to do whatever we plan. Totally! BUT they absolutely will do NOTHING without us. They won't leave our sides. They freakin' GLUE themselves to us for the whole trip. Don't tell me to talk to them because my husband thinks it's no problem! AND they LOVE to travel with us
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 10:24 AM
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Hi M,

>So you travel solo?

Yes, as does my Lady Wife.

I think it's interesting how often we have the same itinerary.

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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 10:37 AM
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All good posts. We have traveled extensively with friends, and the issues have been: (1) getting up and out in the morning versus a leisurely breakfast and (2) shopping versus sightseeing and/or hanging out
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 10:49 AM
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I would just add into the planning phase, have every traveler write up a "must do" list, a "could do" list and a "won't do" list. Put them all together and agree on it before you leave.
I have to say that in my previous travels with family, other people's "must do" list items were some of my most fun adventures.
I never really cared if i visited a castle in Luxemburg, but after spending a morning climbing in and out, over and around a castle, it was truly memorable. Thanks Sis (it was on her "must do" list.
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 10:52 AM
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I agree that sleeping and rising hours can be the biggest problem, along with needing to sit down and have a drink or walking your legs off.

In terms of money, some people will find this tacky, but it has worked for me:

Take a notebook and write down every common expense -- gasoline, hotels, tolls, etc. -- and who paid for what. At the end of each day, tabulate the expenses. This allows you to say things like "okay, you'll pay for the first tank of gas tomorrow to even things up and we'll pay for lunch." Keep writing every single thing down and there will be no disputes.
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 11:29 AM
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I don't think it can be stressed enough that everyone be somewhat independent. I've traveled with a person who did not even try to speak the language of the country we visited. It meant that she was insecure about being left in a store to shop without someone with her. This was unfortunate for her because shopping seemed to be all she really wanted to do.
You might asked your friends how those language tapes are coming along?
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 01:07 PM
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Having traveled several times with a total of 4 in group, this is our method.
Everyone charges everything communal taking turns.
Example: I pay for all 4 dinners tonite on my cc... and each room in hotel is paid for by occupants. Tomorrow nite another traveler will pay for all dinners. (we all drink so that is not a problem splitting a bottle(s).
When we return home we each match up cc receipts and exact $ on cc statement...one of girls does a computer spread sheet to show who is over/under everyone else.
As it works out, on 3 week trip we were settling up very few dollars..(max. last summer someone owed $150 or so to someone else.)
Big advantages..you do not have to stop at ATMs for cash so often..or carry big amounts around... no fumbling for money/tip at table..and amazingly the "big" meals vs "smaller" choices from menu balance out beautifully.
This only applies for expenses incurred on trip by all 4...admissions, food, maps, gas...
I find it useful to use 1 cc for the group charges, and another cc for the few personal items I buy.
Oh, yeah..we use cc for tolls also. Also to be shared of course.
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 02:43 PM
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We've found that trips where there isn't a lot of moving around work best for groups - just fewer transportation and logistical issues to deal with. The group gets to the location and then people can split up or stay together as they choose and there is more flexibility as far as scheduling goes.
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 02:50 PM
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We are headed to Paris this summer with my mom. Just DD, myself, and mom. Mom wanted a suite in our hotels, but I knew that alone time would help all of us. So DD and I will have a room, and mom will have her own. As much as we all love each other, we all need our space. Would much rather wish we spent more time together than wish they would take a hike
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 03:22 PM
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For two friends together, just run a daily tally of what each person spends that is a shared expense (think gin rummy). At the end of the trip add up the two columns and see who owes who how much.
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 05:00 PM
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Don't know how to reco dealing with meals - since the make-up of the group and who the teens belong to is not apparent.

We have never traveled with more than 4. Best idea - with B and SIL is just to switch meals. Since we usually did a simpler lunch(a) and a nicer dinner (b) - on day 1 we paid a and they paid b - on day 2 vice versa - alternating days throughout the trip. But - we enjoy similar price restaurants - and an occasional splurge - and all drink wine and none hard liquor. We never figured it out beyond that. If someone was up or down $100 at the end of the trip - who cares?

(I did one 4 day trip with a workmate - attached to a business meeting - and food was a disaster - since she kept wanting to look for somewhere cheaper. I ended up subsidizing her - just to shut her up and get SOMETHING to eat that was decent. And she wasn;t poor - made at least as much as I did - just really cheap. On the final day I just went off on my own - and Oh, the relief not to hear the constant whining about the cost of everything.)

But - the a/b system might not work depending on similarity of eating habits and who the teens (and do they have massive appetites?) belong to. In that case, perhaps alternate paying not to overload any one CC - but keep track daily and balance out at the end of the trip.
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 06:43 PM
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I forgot about traveling with our teen-age son. He wanted to sleep in every morning. Whereas his father is an early riser. We would let the son sleep a bit, but he had to get up in time for breakfast. (Feeding a teenage boy is hard enough without him skipping the included breakfast.)
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 08:09 PM
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Many others have said allow time to do things apart, but can I add that this does not have to be a "formal" arrangement (for instance someone suggested set aside an afternoon or two a week where you each/all do something separately.
What I find works best when I travel with friends is that you have a total commitment to the concept of each do as they please at any time, with no coercion or persuasion. Someone says "I think I'd like to do such-and-such today" and some others might say "Yes I'd like that" while others in the group say "OK, I think I'd like to do such-and-such else" and neither group says "Aw c'mon, come with us, you'd love it."
You only need to arrange when/where to meet later, at which time you each have different stories to entertain the others with.
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 08:47 PM
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"If" and that's a big "IF" we travel with another family, we generally do a cruise. It's easy to get lost somewhere!

There are a variety of restaurants, buffets to suit anyone's tastes.

Other than that, I wouldn't do it. Now short weekend beach trips are fine, but my whole vacation with others? personal preference is our immediate family.

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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 09:03 PM
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We have travelled with friends but would be pretty careful about those we did. Most of the time we would be happier with just the 2 of us. We are both very punctual and would be very frustrated by waiting for people constantly. You need to have similar views on what consitutes a good day - lots of coffee and wine stops, some shopping etc, long lunches - or seeing heaps of things. If in self catering it should be clear who does what in terms of cooking and cleaning up. Money has never been an issue but we would only travel with good friends who have similar views on money and spending it - and I guess similar incomes. Only exception would be my son - he knows we will pay for him and he is happy with that - as are we. Other than my son we have not really travelled with relatives - not by design it has just turned out that way but I can see that it could pose more problems - some relatives do rather feel they can take more liberties perhaps than friends. I guess in summary if I felt I had to discuss these issues at length before the trip, set ground rules etc I would have to wonder if these were people I really wanted to travel with.
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 10:29 PM
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My sister and I have been traveling together to Europe annually since the year 2000. We have never had a problem with each other on any of our trips, and there is no one with whom either of us would rather travel. In fact, I'd venture to guess we're better travel partners than many married couples.

My sister loves to read and highlight travel books and is the source of most of the inspiration for the places we go and what we'll see when we get there, though I definitely am free to kick in my wish list. While she pours over the travel books, I do most of the internet research and bookings.

We pay for most things with her frequent flyer credit card. I track all the expenses and research in an Excel workbook. In the planning stages, I log all the pretrip payments in a budget worksheet and compute our respective shares of the expenses. I give her a check each month for the charges made to her card during that month, offset by occasional charges I've paid. I e-mail her copies of the spreadsheet as we go along through the planning and ask for her input.

During the trip itself, she puts dinner and room charges and as many expenses as possible on her credit card. For cash, we try to withdraw the same amount from our respective ATM cards and put them into a kitty for cash expenses. When we get home, I add all the credit card charges and ATM expenses to the spreadsheet, figure out our respective shares, and I give her a check for any shortfall. All expenses are split 50/50. We don't nickel and dime over who had the bigger tab at dinner.

We are fortunate because we have similar tastes in lodgings, food, and attractions. We also understand and respect each other's strengths and weaknesses, and we share the same sense of humor. We're also both very independent. When I wanted to sleep in Sunday morning in Paris, she found the metro and went to Mass at Notre Dame by herself, regaling me with wonderful stories when she returned. I kicked myself for being such a lazy bonehead, so she didn't have to.

We do have some differences. She likes to stay up late and read in bed at night, while I can't get parallel under the covers without being drawn irresistably to sleep. I put in earplugs and don my sleep mask and happily nod off early, so we don't have to turn off the light at an agreed upon time.

For us, the secret is flexibility, respect, trust, affection for each other, and the delight in having a kindred spirit with whom to share so many wonderful experiences. It's a no-brainer, but the same serendipitous combination wouldn't exist for everyone.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2007, 05:47 AM
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I have traveled twice with my three daughters and two women friends and their daughters...a total of 8...we have a fabulous time and we have used some tactics that make it all work out: we each put in a kitty the same amount from time to time (if the parents want to cover their children, that is between them)...which covers meals we eat together, incidentals we all engage in...we never split hairs about who ordered what and it works perfectly..( usually someone doesn't mind handling the kitty)...we also hire a guide who travels with us..this is probably the key...that way we don't argue about who wants to do what...anyone is free to participate or go off on their own, but from our experience, going out with the guide has been so much fun no one wants to miss the events that unfold....I have done the planning in advance, after we decide on a country...I contact a tour company (often found via this site)....and get in touch directly with the person and ask them to set up an itinerary and mention what kind of things we like to do...we like some physical adventure along with site seeing. We still talk about our times of camping in bedouin tents in Morocco, haggling in the medinas, riding camels, going swimming in caves in Mexico, etc. We are embarking on a trip together to Istanbul and Cappadocia in May, and this one is planned as well...we will be sleeping in cave dwellings in Cappadocia, riding hot air baloons, having our own boat ride on the Bosphorus, among many other site seeing adventures... with plenty of free time thrown in. I might add that this is a lot more affordable than you think because the travel agencies can get prices we can't..we try to keep our cost at $3,000 per person, including air fare for about 9-10 days...just some suggestions of how to have a good time with family and friends.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2007, 08:58 AM
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Traveling with family and friends can be so fun!

Don't get stressed about it--one way to avoid the stress is do NOT get involved with the "I owe you" situations. Everyone should be self-sufficient.

One thing that we've found works well is to get the entire group together to pick a specific destination and date range. And then, let everyone select their appropriate flights, hotel, etc on based on their preferences and needs. We have some friends/family members who must stay on the beach, while others don't mind being inland a little to save some money. But, once there, we can easily get togethr and hang out whenever even if not right next door. And then we select 3-4 activities for a week long vacation and whoever wants to make it goes, while the rest figure out what they want to do on their own.

Good luck

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