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Ground rules for traveling with friends and relatives.

Ground rules for traveling with friends and relatives.

Old Mar 3rd, 2007, 10:09 AM
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Mary Fran,

My sister and I do the same thing (travel annually to Europe) and handle things pretty much the way you and your sister do. But, we take turns paying for meals, hotels, etc., since we each use FF credit cards and figure out who owes what when we return. It works out very well.

This year we are going to France for almost a month! We are both very excited. I am happy I have a sister to travel with too.

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Old Mar 3rd, 2007, 10:56 AM
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I'm Maryfran's sister and traveling buddy.

One reason we put everything possible on my credit card is that we eventually earn enough miles for free tickets for both of us. In 2004 we both went to Spain with my frequent flyer miles, and we are going to Ireland this September, again using my ff miles. Maryfran also has a frequent flyer card with Alaska or Southwest that she uses for her expenses at home.

I sometimes think that traveling with your sister is the best of all possible worlds--if you are best friends, as my sister and I are. We have that common background that gives us a window into the other's mind and soul, so that we have pretty much the same preferences and prejudices. It still astonishes me how often she will say exactly what I have been thinking, or I will say what she has been thinking.

She's also very witty. She makes me laugh all the time.

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Old Mar 3rd, 2007, 11:00 AM
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Always such an interesting topic -- and heavy on my mind as I am planning to be in Greece with 3-4 friends this summer.

I would like to be like Ira, and be traveling mostly with my spouse, but since said spouse is no longer in the picture, I either travel alone, which is fine for some trips, or with friends.

Whew, it is not easy, but can be rewarding and wonderful in the end!

Great tips here. I am impressed by those more organized (Excel spreadsheets!) and more casual (splitting things evenly) than me.

The last trip w/ 5 of us worked out well due to the willingness of at least most of us to pre-plan (had to force one into the planning sessions, but she was a trooper).

What worked:
Getting together beforehand, cooking a meal from the place we were visiting, pouring over maps (lighting one on fire with a candle accidentally, so kind of a trial by fire!) and then making a 'chart' of what we each really wanted to do & seeing what matched up as a group. That little step was extremely helpful in getting a real idea of what peoples' expectations and visions were.

For the one out-of-town member, two of us took charge of emailing and calling her, to keep her in the loop and get her (extensive!) input.

For pre-trip expenses (rental car, deposits) different people put different things on CCs and we kept track; balanced that out before we even left.

Two cars -- yes yes yes.

Not being joined at the hip -- yes yes yes. We 5 split into various 2/3, 1/4 etc combinations almost every day. Some things we did enmasse and besides having too many map readers at times (see maitaitom above for advice on NOT doing that)we had great fun those days.

My #1 rule -- everyone holds their own tickets/money/map. Everyone needs to have a clue how to get back to the car/hotel/etc (good point above about carrying a hotel card).

With teens, you will have to adjust, but with adults, come on. I am not your mother!

(This is one slight fear about the upcoming trip, as one member really hates to be alone and does not want to ever be in charge.)

My biggest issue is meals. I travel with people of varying incomes and ideas about spending $; some suck the wine down and eat dessert, some drink mineral water and nibble arugula. It seldom works to split.

So, we either carry small bills, pay attention to what we order and pay what we owe. Let one or two people do this; it does not have to turn into a scene. A tiny calculator discreetly held on the lap can help the math or alcohol impaired.

We tried to pay with credit card for other non-shared or easily split expenses so we could do meals mostly in cash.

If the meal was close, we just split it.

A kitty or a running tab, checked every day or two days max, works fine for communal expenses like gas, etc.

Lots of laughs, private time & space, and a little alcohol always helped smooth the rough spots.

Oh -- and eyeshades, earplugs & some type of booklight or flashlight (my favorite is from Radio Shack). Friendship-savers!
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Old Mar 3rd, 2007, 12:38 PM
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Here's my two cents on travel with friends,and/or relatives, though I must first say, without much fear of contradiction, that I would go anywhere with MaiTaiTom. Just reading his little blue name on this thread made me laugh. Yes, I remember the wrong gas thing. Certainly EVERYONE was to blame !

1. You may have best friends with whom you NEVER want to travel. Some are wonderful friends, but set in their ways, (or is that me?)
2. I travel often with DH, but sometimes have more fun with college roommate, or other friend.
3. I LOVE to travel with friends, and split up some of the time, so we all have great stories to tell. It's especially fun to rent a villa with friends, or a National Trust house, which we have done with great success.
4. Yes, everyone needs to be flexible, and have a sense of humor.
5. Friends who make lots of mistakes are really fun to be with, if they don't take themselves too seriously.
6. We generally just split all the food bills in half when we are two couples. Others have provided very good detail on other methods of doing the splitting, and the kitty. Great thread. thanks to all.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2007, 12:59 PM
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My extended family has taken several trips together. We always pay our share as we go along (we don't "lend" money or have a kitty) which has worked out well for us. Also, we do not feel we need to do every single activity or sightseeing excursion together. We often will split up with our individual families and do our own thing; you have to be flexible when travelling with a group. Also, two cars are better than one large van.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2007, 10:33 PM
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I travel with my sister also. We have had some wonderful escapades in Europe and the U.S. We are night and day in our personalites and it still works great. We split most of the costs and that works for us. My dear sister does not eat, ok very, very little, but I do. So we pay for our own meals. I have learned to speak up when I need to eat or we would never stop. We both give and take, if she wants to do something we do it and the same goes if I want to do something. We go our separate ways when we want. I think honest communication is the key.

I have had so much fun traveling with her that Mr. hester now has decided he wants to travel again. Probably a good thing since Dear Sister just got married, so I don't know how much she will want to travel in the future. I also travel alot with DD who is 16 and a friend and her daughter. It has always worked out. The joke at our house is that Mom (me) will go anywhere with anyone, anytime!
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Old Mar 4th, 2007, 03:20 PM
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I travel a lot with different friends and our rules are as follows:

1. We meet a couple of times before our trip and iron out the itinerary. Each persons MUST sees and do and the not so important see and do. We plan and schedule our itinerary with a map and break it down into sections.

2. If sharing a hotel room we each get our separate key. If hotel only offers 1 key then it must stay in the reception until the last person gets in.

3. We always keep a spending diary. I'm normally the one who logs everything into my PDA. We take turns paying for taxi's, museum entrances, meals, hotels, etc. Who paid for what gets logged into the diary and upon return I create a spreadsheet with the spending and then figure out if any monies are owed. 9 out of 10 times we average about the same spending +/- $50.

4. Slowest person to get dressed showers first, this avoids waiting.

5. Unless it's a beach vacation everyone must get up early.

I've traveled all throughout the US, Caribbean and Europe with friends these rules have proven very successful.
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Old Mar 5th, 2007, 06:23 PM
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Great topic. I travel with 5 others on our bi-annual "Cousins Tours" (which include immediate family and two cousins). These tend ot be 17-day trips to Europe. We get along fabulously, and here are some ways to make it work:

1. I am the planner in the family and enjoy doingit. So, I gather input on future destinations, and put together a few potetential itineraries. We tend to move locations every 3 days -- more than that and you end up spending more time packing and unpacking than makes sense. It alos allows people who want a half day or day pf "down time" to do that while others explore. I make a list of places to see each day, but we agree that this is a nice to do, not a requirement. I also plan trips that include both urban and rural areas - -satisfies everyone. And, I pre-book ALL the hotels and probably 2/3 of the dinner meals: no wasted time searching for a place we can all agree on each night, and we get to eat at some great places (all price ranges), by having booked in advance.

2) I make out a budget for the trip, wich includes projections of everything (parking, gas, cars, tours, tips, meals as well as the usual airfare and hotels. We usually come in several hundred dollars under budget, whcih is good; but, people know what the trip might cost. It is helpful if your travel partners have tastes that are similar in terms of expense on things like lodging and meals.

3) We rent two cars for 6 people: a minivan and a sedan. This way we can use the two cars and have plenty of luggage room when traveling between locations, but have the minivan to do touring for everyone out of each location.

4) Each day one person pays all the expenses. They track it during the day, and I keep it on a master list for the entire trip. We settle up at the end. Everyone is charged equally for meals.

That's a start.

John H.

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Old Mar 6th, 2007, 10:34 PM
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My ground rules include:

Travel only with people that you have an honest and open relationship with so you can work out challenges easily if they arise. Plan the agenda ahead of time so there are few surprises, this includes expected fees for activities. Pay for meals separately or agree to take turns as long as everyone has fairly equal appetites. If one person is a hearty eater or drinker it is not equitable. Make sure each person's "priorities" (must do's) are accomodated and if needed allow some time alone or in smaller groups. Remember you don't have to spend every single second together. You can always meet up for a meal or other activity as needed. Try to travel with people that have similar sleep and activity expectations. If one wants to relax and the other is extremely active, it may not work. Likewise, if one is an early bird and another a night owl there may be conflicts. Keep your sense of humor and have fun!
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Old Mar 7th, 2007, 06:57 PM
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This thread is timely and fantastically helpful.

A while back, I posted a question along the same lines, asking for advice on traveling with a group (in my case, my sisters and mom). There were some wonderfully thoughtful replies there, too. (See "Going abroad with my sisters without going crazy"). That trip was postponed for various reasons, but this year it's ON.

Thanks to all who have replied here. I have learned a lot and have more to think about....

I'm impressed also at the constructive and positive replies. (I may enjoy a snarkfest now and then as much as the next mouse potato, but I'm on deadline with this one.)
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Old Mar 7th, 2007, 07:48 PM
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I agree with NeoPatrick's reply. When traveling with other couples, my husband takes his laptop and has a spreadsheet set up. When one couple buys something, i.e. groceries (since we usually stay at condos), it goes into their colum, another couple buys something it goes into their column, etc. At the end of the trip everything is all entered into the computer for everyone to see.

We have taken relatives and friends to Hawaii on several occasions. Since we only rent one car, there is a lot of together time. Since most have not been to the islands before, we are pretty much the tour guides. So far all this togetherness has worked out pretty well.
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