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Traveling with another couple to Germany

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Oct 12th, 2016, 08:55 AM
  #1
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Traveling with another couple to Germany

Hello, we have been discussing with friends going together to Germany for 2 weeks in Sept. 2017. We have done weekends out of town together in the past and seem to be compatible. If hypothetically they would want to go more premium -- premium economy on airfare, higher end accommodations, etc. and we are more budget minded (not bottom tier but comfortable and affordable) , would it work if they took care of their own transport and accommodations and we just got together for rental cars, tours, and dining? How important is it to be on the same page with regard to these things. Thanks.
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Oct 12th, 2016, 09:10 AM
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We have been in both situations and found ways to compromise. If you aren't staying at the same hotels, you really won't be sharing the trip, meeting for drinks in the lobby, at breakfast, etc. find hotels that offer rooms at various price levels.
We have traveled with friends who bought tickets in economy while we prefer business class for long haul flights. There were no problems at all. We also have met up with friends at the destination who took different flights.
I have to admit that it does takr
E more work to plan but in the end, you will share a great trip with friends. I assume tou have shared your worries about hotel costs with them. Or, consider a less expensive destination such as Portugal or Greece.
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Oct 12th, 2016, 09:12 AM
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I just took 11 people into France, all their own transport, they stayed where they liked, we did stuff together and we had supper together. But... it needed spelling out and actually clearly documented with one person in control at any one time. If you follow my name back a couple of months you'll see the thread and some of the issues.

Oh just be warned you can pay very little and a great deal for hotel rooms in Germany.
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Oct 12th, 2016, 09:53 AM
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There is no one answer to this. The areas you mentioned,
>>> we just got together for rental cars, tours, and dining
can also be sources of conflict.

Is the car choice compatible? If one couple insists on wanting a
huge car one might be used to drive at home but the other couple does not, it is an issue. This also includes necessity -- if one couple is a heavy packer and the other is not, need to choose a car based on the heavy packer's need. A weekend trip would not have revealed the kind of packer.

Are the tours compatible? Some like to hire (meaning cost) a private guide every where, while others might just as study on their own and DIY.

Dining is another potential big issue. For some, eating has no meaning over physiological needs and would ok to eat anything as long as it is cheap. This does not necessarily go with other area of spending. I routinely go out with a couple living in a huge home up on a hill, has a vacation home in a resort, drives several expensive cars. But when it comes to dining, they only go to family restaurants offering large amount of usual fares are discount. If it is a consolation, there is a difference in drinking habit, the wine and beer in Germany are not overpriced like in the U.S. (I presume that is where you are from reading your other postings.) The discrepancy in eating is more of an issue if you are splitting the bill in half.
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Oct 12th, 2016, 10:48 AM
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We have traveled to Europe several times with friends. Our party typically ranges from 10-14 including kids. I think it would be difficult to plan a two week vacation with friends and stay at different places and share the car rental. Its difficult enough making sure everyone is ready on time when you are in the same hotel. Usually some folks are prompt and others are off by 15-30minutes. We meet up for breakfast most mornings so it evens out. The prompt ones have a more leisurely breakfast. It may work for you since it appears that its only 4 adults in total. I agree with the dining comment above. Everyone has different tastes and some are more open to compromise while others are not. You need to be on the same page with your friends and it may help to discuss/book restaurants in advance. I don't think the air will be an issue. Also agree with the comment about packing styles. Usually cars are smaller particularly is you are looking for an automatic car for which you will pay a significant premium in Europe. We agree in advance how many and what size bags each family brings on the trip. It is very important to plan this out otherwise someone may end up with a bag on their lap for the trip. Lastly your interests need to be the same. Are you both on the same page regarding how much time you would spend in the cities vs. countryside, museums, monuments, hiking etc. its important that your general interests line up and you both plan out and are in agreement with a rough itinerary for each day in advance. Also what I have noted is that some of us are more laid back and prefer to spend more time relaxing at the hotel, leisurely lunches and dinner versus others who prefer to pack the day with lots of things to see/do etc. There needs to be a compromise where some days are more busy and other days there is time to simply relax and do nothing. Traveling with friends is always fun but you want to make sure that there are no misunderstandings.
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Oct 12th, 2016, 02:04 PM
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hansman,

Germany is one of the cheaper countries in Europe. That makes it easier for your.

Let's start with flying. Find a compromise that you take the same flight, albeit one couple flies economy and the other couple premium economy or business. It does not matter to be separated for a few hours flight time. However, it is alway a good thing to be in the same airplane, so if delays occur, you are in the same boat.

Second, accomodation. It is basically the same strategy. You can stay at the same hotel, but you take a low-priced standard room while your friends book the presidential suite. Feel free to take our help to find accomodation that pleases both couples. I will give you an example: In Berlin (!), we stayed at a 5-star hotel with pool in a double room for €89 including excellent buffet breakfast. If this would be in your range it would be okay for you, and the quality would be okay for your friends.

Third, food and beverage. This is probably the most difficult topic, because you want to travel together, but if your budget is €20 for dinner and your friends want to splurge, you have to separate. But I have a solution for you. If your friends stay in a suite, think about having meals in their suite. Go together into a grocery store and buy yummy food and wines. Your friends might splurge and buy a bottle of (real) Champagne and caviar and whatever. Have a stylish meal in their suite - take the wine glasses from your minibars and bring cutlery and plastic plates and napkins and a corkscrew. And make a low-cost feast on the hotel room. It is a special experience, we have done it a lot of times.

When you go into restaurants, your friends will certainly agree to dine at low-price, rustic places. And if they opt for a Michelin-star restaurant for one night or two, let them go and do something else that night.

Finally, ask us for further tips and details. We live here and we know the tricks. Tell us more about your timeframe and interests and we will help you to make an itinerary that satisfies both couples.
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Oct 12th, 2016, 04:44 PM
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Different plane accommodations: no problem
Different hotels: problem
Different levels of dining: problem
Same rental car: It depends

Under the Fodor Einstein Travel Algorithm, you have a 1 no problem, 2 problems, and a depends.

That amounts to Somewhat Mostly A Problem.
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Oct 13th, 2016, 12:13 AM
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Dining, one couple eats off the menu, the other eats off the a la carte. Very easy. The only issue would be the wine
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Oct 13th, 2016, 12:14 AM
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Wine, one couple buys the fizz and one buys the main wine.
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Oct 13th, 2016, 05:20 AM
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We just split the bill or ask for separate checks. Germany is very affordable. You might need a bigger car if they pack heavy but it is not that much more plus you are splitting the cost so will enjoy the nicer ride. When we go with friends we always buy transportation separate. You might want to do some train travel in Germany also.
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Oct 13th, 2016, 06:07 AM
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Asking for separate bills is absolutely common in German restaurants. No worries about that!
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Oct 13th, 2016, 07:02 AM
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Well, I've travelled with a friend and stayed in separate accommodations, and it wasn't a problem. We were about 2 blocks apart. We would phone in the evening to arrange a meeting time for the next morning, and it worked fine. We're going to be doing the same thing again in Feb. I do value having my own territory, and I think she did too.

Yes, travelling by train is great in Germany, no need to hassle over a car.

I think you could even do separate touring ("ok, I'm going to do a tour of the castle, so I'll meet you guys for lunch at the market square") or even separate meals ("I'd like to try the Chinese place for lunch . . . why don't we meet in about 90 minutes by the museum?").

I guess I really don't think any of it would be a problem. Even if you saw each other only for drinks in the evening, would that be bad?

Have fun as you plan!

s
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Oct 13th, 2016, 12:29 PM
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You don't specify what you mean by 'comfortable but affordable' hotels but I'm going to assume you mean anything from 2* (e.g., something like an Ibis - the red, not the blue logo; simple bed and breakfast) to 3*(samples: Novotel; Mercure; Quality Inn) but not as high as a Marriott or a Sofitel.

Hotels, even independent ones, have branding down to a science. They know their markets. They might have a range of rooms, but nothing so plush - or so simple - as to turn off their core customer base. So I would suggest that you not attempt to stay at the same hotel - an 'executive' room at the Novotel is still a Novotel room, and the 'standard' room at the Ritz is still going to cost way more than I suspect you want to pay. Still, the best thing to do is to discuss this with your friends.

Same goes for dining. Just ordering the most expensive thing on a simple menu, or the cheapest on the fancier restaurant menu, is not going to meet either party's needs. The foodies will feel they have lost out on their opportunity, and you the not-so-foodies will feel you are blowing your budget at every meal. Again, discuss this with your friends. Best if everyone is brutally honest.
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Oct 13th, 2016, 12:47 PM
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They had an article in the NYT on this last month, but I think it lists obvious things.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/11/tr...h-friends.html

As for air travel, I wouldn't give it a second thought. No reason in the world why you have to have the same type seat or even sit together at all on the plane. In fact, that may be too much of a good thing.

As for the hotels, a lot of people call things comfortable I do not, I'm leery of that term myself, but it sounds like maybe comparing a 2* versus 4* hotel may be the issue. I agree, if someone wants a nicer hotel, they are not going to be happy in a 2*, no matter whether they get the deluxe/superior room or not. It's possible a mid-range hotel could suit both budgets by the superior category versus standard. But I don't think it would be an issue if you can just find hotels within a block or so of each other. That isn't that difficult in most big cities, to find a range of hotel categories within the same area.

Dining is a big issue as expensive restaurants are expensive for anything you order. You can't (or shouldn't) economize just by having only an appetizer and tap water if you really want a full meal and glass of wine. And some people spend a whole lot more on typical meals than I do even though I don't consider myself a penny pincher (I've learned on Fodors). I would not want to go to any restaurant where you had to spend over 50 euro just for a routine meal and one glass of wine, for example. Yet, a lot of people do that all the time.

But the OP doesn't foresee major problems with the dining issue so must know their habits. They just want a nicer hotel and to pay for Premium Economy, which is certainly their choice, and I don't see any major problem with only those two issues.

I haven't traveled with friends that much, but when I did, we were on the same page on spending so it wasn't an issue.
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Oct 13th, 2016, 12:51 PM
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In Berlin (!), we stayed at a 5-star hotel with pool in a double room for €89 including excellent buffet breakfast.

Traveler1959 is indeed the 'insider' here, and certainly I can't compete with his/her local knowledge. That said:

I know it occasionally happens that hotels offer deals, but for purposes of planning, I would suggest one chart out the budget on the basis of fair market value - i.e., what the room would sell for in a typical market, not when it is offering a promotion or is in a distressed market. That way, if there is the occasional deal, everyone is happy, as opposed to frustrated when it inevitably ensues that one misses the promotional period, etc. etc.
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Oct 13th, 2016, 02:04 PM
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>>Dining, one couple eats off the menu, the other eats off the a la carte. Very easy. The only issue would be the wine<<

That assumes the other couple wants to eat at restaurants of the same level. There are restaurants that have $40+ entrees, and there are restaurants have $20+ entrees.
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Oct 14th, 2016, 12:42 PM
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Thanks everyone for your awesome suggestions and opinions!
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Oct 14th, 2016, 10:20 PM
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"That assumes the other couple wants to eat at restaurants of the same level. There are restaurants that have $40+ entrees, and there are restaurants have $20+ entrees."

This is most commonly my problem when traveling with others. And is usually the limiting factor. It's often less about the money but more about the perceived value (serving size, whether it's ala carte, is it something they perceive as "weird".)


But I think, after a lot of experience with this issue, that it's less about money and much more about expectations. If you have different ideas of when to start or end your day, what you want to see/do, how much you want to shop, are you planners and stick to your plans, or do you prefer flexible to the point of you never follow the plan...the list goes on. Talk it out. Make sure everyone is on the same page of when you'll stick together and when you'll split up. I've made the assumption that people will want to split up, but some want to be with you every waking second of the trip. Differences like that cause a lot of friction and hurt feelings. I think it really depends on the kind of weekend trips you've gone on with them before- do those involve planning and touring or were they more like relaxing beach trips?
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