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Thyra Jul 25th, 2000 03:33 PM

What are some tricks to avoid being stressed out, on a trip with first timers?
OK, my Fodor friends, I just finished reading a thread that was so interesting, something about advice for first timer to Europe. My husband and myself (experienced travel people) are meeting another couple for a 7 day yacht trip around the Greek Islands in October. My husband and I are arriving 10 days earlier then they are and leaving 10 days before they are so we all get "alone" time. The couple we are meeting have never stepped foot out of the USA! They are fine, researching, asking my advice, open minds etc. Right now I have only one concern...ME! I find myself so uptight wanting to make sure that their trip is perfect! Wanting them to follow my sage advice!!! I stress and ponder, HELP! Please give me some words of wisdom some zen if you will, to help me relax!

Caitlin Jul 25th, 2000 03:46 PM

Gee, sounds like the chief barrier to their having a perfect trip might be you, if you continue to stay all wound up about it! I'm kidding, but only partly. I don't know if you have visited the particular area where you'll be going before, but if not, remember that, while foreign/European travel might not be new to you, those places will be new to all of you. It's not entirely clear if your friends are beginning their trip with the yacht ride, but if so, they'll have a week to dip their feet in the water, so to speak, before going off on their own, and will probably absorb a lot of good advice from you even if it is only offered in passing. I say relax! They'll keep asking you when they do need advice, and you don't want to doom their trip with overkill. It seems more likely that they'll have a great time and great memories if they feel like they discovered a lot for themselves (with the help of their good friends) than if they feel like they were on a tour guided by you.

Thyra Jul 25th, 2000 03:55 PM

Thanks Caitlin, but just to clarify, I have left the other couple alone entirely except when they have asked for advice. I have vowed to let them chart their own course... but I have to find a way to deal with it if they, for some reason, have a bad time, or don't like something! I don't want to ruin my husband's or my trip fretting!

Mary Ann Jul 25th, 2000 04:18 PM

Thyra - I can sympathize. We had been to Europe twice, having had two wonderful driving tours. When planning our 3rd, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law asked if they could join us. They are really good friends as well as family, but this was their first independent tour and I felt really responsible. <BR> I encouraged them to read and provided books. I did consult with her on itinerary and hotels, but most was my own doing. I did advise on packing and luggage and odds and ends needed (converters, film, shout spots, etc) and checked the weather 4 days before we left so clothes would be appropriate. We tried to devise a basic game plan for each city with a list of possible activities that would appeal to each couple. <BR> Lastly, I cautioned on expecting the unexpected and not going with unmeetable expectations. I still felt a little stressed as we drove to the airport but once in flight I realized it was not just up to me to make or break the trip. <BR> We had a wonderful trip, in 3 weeks we had only one episode of hurt feelings, which I think is pretty good. We are all still friends and planning another trip for next year. Hang in there, try to relax and have a great trip! <BR> <BR>

elvira Jul 25th, 2000 04:50 PM

1) Be sure you all have the freedom to speak up (aka 'no whining'). If something is displeasing someone, or if they don't want to do something, they should feel free to speak up. More than once, one of the Loons has said "I don't want to eat here", so we go find someplace else - nobody mopes over their food or sulks. If you don't take it personally, it's no big deal. If somebody smokes, or has to always sit on the outside seat, etc., then discuss how all that will be handled. If something else pops up along the way, that openess will keep resentments from building. <BR>2) If you're planning the trip, be responsible for what's IS your fault (like you lost the tickets) but not for what isn't (the weather). Take an inventory of everything, and know what is and is not your responsibility. <BR>3) Bring a couple of MadLibs pads. The simplest and dumbest game on the face of the earth, but if you're stuck inside because of the rain, it'll more than pass the time (the word 'paella' has taken on a whole new meaning since a MadLibs game in Spain). <BR>4) Eventhough your friends will have a list of things they'd like to do, be sure you have an extensive one. Most people on their first trip don't plan for what ifs (what if it rains, what if it's closed, what if I just can't visit one more museum, etc.); if you've got a variety of things on your list, they won't be stuck with nothing to do. <BR>5) Think like a mother: throw in a few extra bandaids, a throw-away rain poncho (about a buck or two at a discount store), an extra pair of socks, washcloths (you know those 5/$5 variety?), rolls of film. You can't bring everything (they are, after all, adults), but those things you've missed on a trip, they might also. <BR> <BR>I can't emphasize enough "be responsible for what is yours, and let go of everything else"...unless you've got a direct link to God, in which case, I want you on our next trip... <BR> <BR>

Opportunist Jul 25th, 2000 10:23 PM

REALLY basic advice......... <BR> <BR>Never pass up the opportunity to use a clean bathroom. <BR>Wash your hands before AND after.

elaine Jul 26th, 2000 04:39 AM

Thyra <BR>I have found that sometimes I suffer from "master of the universe" syndrome--I want to "arrange" things so that everything will be perfect. In travel as in life. However, sometimes my well-intentioned efforts not only pave the way to hell, they may <BR>irritate people. Even "high maintenance" friends (people who never seem to have the schedules right, people who won't go to the bathroom by themselves, people who will let themselves go hungry rather than stop at a restaurant alone) <BR>may take all your advice and end up resenting you anyway. <BR> <BR>You have already received good advice here. If you are a researcher and a planner, gather all the information <BR>you like: schedules, weather forecasts, <BR>tour hours, restaurants, clothing, etc. Offer to share your information with the other couple, and ask for a copy of theirs as well. Tell them what is important to you and your husband: <BR>a particular beach, a particular restaurant, time in the afternoon to nap, starting out early in the morning, staying up late at night, cocktails before dinner, whatever. Offer to include them, but make it clear that they don't have to do the same things you do, and not in the same order. <BR>Above all, be honest; if you don't want to stop in the souvenir shop with them because you want more time sunbathing, smile and say so. On the other hand, if it's your "turn" to compromise, smile and do it; if you can't smile, DON'T do it. <BR>

Al Godon Jul 26th, 2000 06:33 AM

This thread reads like the parade of the control freaks. Are you dealing with adults or children? From the way talk (write) you are secretly planning how to wipe their noses and want to make sure you use the appropriate tissue. If it bothers you that %^$$ much, go alone or stay home! <BR> <BR>

GladI'mNot Jul 26th, 2000 06:39 AM

Well put.

Thyra Jul 26th, 2000 08:44 AM

Thanks for all who responded! Even Al who seems to think I am a control freak, which I find kind of amusing since the other couple are constantly asking me for books and hotel advice, and telling me I don't help enough. I don't think my original post summed up the situation correctly. Elvira said it best, don't feel responsible for things your can't change! That was all I needed to hear. If they don't like Greek food, though unfortunate, it's not my fault! Thank you to all who posted especially Al and Glad I am not going with you! PS: I am glad you are not going with us too!

WishIwas Jul 26th, 2000 09:27 AM

Well put.

Paulo Jul 26th, 2000 02:16 PM

Thyra, I have a feeling that your worries concern more about the 10 days they'll be on their own than on the time you'll spend together ... <BR> <BR>You should comletely forget about their 10 days. If they ask you for info, opinions, whatever ... ok, but that should be it! With the knoledge they acquired through their own research or with your input they should be prepared to be on their own. <BR> <BR>We travelled with a couple to Greece and Turkey well over a week ... we spent exactly 4 weeks together excluding overseas flights. Ok, our friends were not exactly first timers ... but IMO, being or not a first timer has little bearing on the general outcome (in fact, chances are that first timers are much easier to get along with, because just about everything comes as a new experience :-) <BR> <BR>After we discussed and agreed upon our itinerary, we also ended up agreeing that they should be responsible for approximately half the trip (at first, they wnated me to organize everything ... I strongly denied!). So, they were in charge of taking care of the hotels in Athens, Peloponnese and Santorini, and I went about securing accomodations for Rhodes and Turkey. I went about renting a car in Greece and they did it in Turkey. I provided the overseas flight reservations, and they went about reserving the ferry to Santorini and the flight to Rhodes. During the trip, I took up the driving one day (and deciding on which daytours to make) and my friend would do it the next. The same with respect to restaurants. In other words, when they were in charge, they were in charge. We just sat back and relaxed. It was only a question of getting into their pace. When we were in charge, they just followed suit. Of course, this didn't mean that we wouldn't discuss things along the trip. But the final decision was made always by who was in charge. I can guarantee you, we didn't have a single "bad" day. In Athens and in Istanbul we split for a day, each couple on their own and that was it. <BR> <BR>You have only 7 days, Thyra ... it would be a piece of cake of leting your friends be in charge for, say, 3 of the days. Once you truely share responsabilities, I can guarantee you that all the pressure disapears like magic :-) <BR> <BR>Have a nice trip. <BR> <BR>Paulo <BR> <BR>

Al Godon Jul 26th, 2000 03:56 PM

Thyra, you may engage in denial if you wish, but it is that you have found a controlee whom you can dominate with "superior wisdom". As for my not going with you, we have a mutual admiration society in reverse. <BR>Besides, I have my travel mate, and have had for 40+ years. I don't leave home without her.

Thyra Jul 26th, 2000 04:13 PM

Al, 40 + years! That is truly a journey I admire!!!!! Many happy trails.

April Jul 26th, 2000 04:28 PM

I predict that once you get there, you'll relax.

Lighten Jul 26th, 2000 04:59 PM

Aw, come on Al. Lighten up on Thyra. She's just trying to be thoughtful. What happened to the happy-go-lucky Al we're all so used to? :) Don't go getting crotchety on us, dude.

Thyra Jul 27th, 2000 08:57 AM

Thanks for the words of support! One bit of information that may explain my anxiety a bit: The other couple we are meeting up with happens to be my Mother and Father In-Law! Just the thought of me trying to dominate my "Head of Cultural Arts for the entire county Mother in Law, with a MBA" makes me laugh so hard I cry! I am sure April is correct and once the trip is underway I will be able to relax and I really liked Paulo's suggestion (as I usually do).

Crossref Jul 27th, 2000 10:09 AM

Be sure to see the other thread about first-timers.

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