NoT tHe TrAvEl TiPs YoU'd tHiNk
I travel relatively frequently - every two to three months, typically. We’ve talked about the realizations I had on my March escape to regain sanity, and how to pack your life in a carry-on. Now let’s talk a little about some of my recommended “Do’s and Don’ts” to successful trip planning, and general etiquette when traveling with others (i.e., friends).
Back story: Last night, I had a “catch-up” call with a friend who lives in Houston. Her and I plan exactly one trip each year to visit each other while simultaneously indulging in our shared love to travel and adventure. This year is San Francisco in October. Anyway, she asked about my recent trip to Boulder, CO and I asked about her recent trip to Cancun to celebrate her birthday. I asked her about what else is going on in her life and she responded she’s going “camping” with a friend in Texas this weekend, but she isn’t excited about it. Without diving too deep into the details of what has her unenthused about the quickly approaching weekend getaway, the friend who she’s going with requested something specific for the trip - that the trip be just the two of them - and then did something to completely contradict that (invited two other ladies) WITHOUT ASKING FIRST. My friend is (understandably) upset about this because 1. She doesn’t know these two other ladies she’s suddenly traveling with, and even if she does take on the “More the Merrier” attitude, there’s still 2. the principle of it. The original request to travel just the of them came from a place of wanting to spend time together and share an experience as friends, which is no longer the intent when others are invited into that space and that experience. I tell you this so you understand where the following recommendations are coming from - experience, having consideration and forethought for others, and (MOST IMPORTANTLY) doing all you can to ensure a highly enjoyable trip. These items should also help to keep the integrity of the trip in focus… keeping the intent intact.
First, when I’m traveling with others, I talk to them about eVeRyThInG, right down to HOW they like to plan their travels. My friend in Houston likes a “moderate” level of planning, a loose itinerary, and prefers not to book anything until two - three months out from the trip date (at the earliest). The ladies I went to CO with don’t really plan outside of when are we arriving and when are we leaving. We all vocalized interest in exactly two things we all wanted to do while visiting our Boulder girl - hike and spend time by the pool. We made NO other pre-trip plans for our adventures. Friday night, we settled on where we’d hike on Saturday and roughly what time we wanted to be on the trail. Saturday, we conquered. Sunday, we rested our sore bodies and well-nourished souls by the pool. By understanding how your friends like to plan and adapting a bit to what works for the group (vs. focusing on simply what YOU’RE comfortable with), the trip and adventures within have a tendency to be more enjoyable for everyone. No one is singled out. No one is dominating decisions. Things are figured out in time and as they make sense. Bottom line - compromise is key. *Feel free to apply that to basically anything else in life. ;)
Second, be considerate of what is within and outside of the comfort zones of others when planning activities. If you’re traveling with an introvert, then hitting the bars every night probably won’t be as fun of a night as it would if you are with an extrovert. If you’re traveling with people who enjoy being active but don’t actually get out too much, plan moderate activities so you can all move the next day. My Houston gal HATES going to zoos, so I never ask. She feels like once you’ve seen a giraffe, you’ve seen them all. I’m pretty sure Jazz would agree with me that the giraffes at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo are WAYYYYY cooler than anywhere else… probably since you can feed them and end up having giraffes practically licking your hands (and maybe face). It’s not your average “stare at an animal in a cage” zoo experience. We adapt to different environments. It only makes sense to adapt to different people.
Watch what you eat, but enjoy it! My regular diet isn’t full of deep-fried or especially rich foods. When I travel, I try to eat a lighter, high-protein breakfast so I’m full but I can still move. I usually do a lighter option like a salad or sandwich for lunch. Dinner is where I tend to indulge with a dessert or an extra beer/wine. I am careful not to eat too far outside my normal diet because I know I’ll end up with an upset tummy or generally uncomfortable for the rest of the day/night. I’m also not a big dairy eater, so if I treat myself to an ice cream cone or a milkshake, that’ll probably only happen once the whole trip. I still enjoy local food and culture, and have a little treat, but I’m being smart about it so I’m not making myself sick or running to a restroom.
My last piece of travel advice is a two-parter and they go hand-in-hand 100%. Keep your plans flexible AND ask the locals for recommendations. On my first trip to Boulder, the Air B&B host suggested a Teahouse for dinner. She said it was amazing and well worth it if we could find time to check it out. We had (over)planned and had a restaurant picked out for EVERY meal that trip, but we felt the host was being sincere and she probably knew more than the google and yelp ratings we used to pick our restaurant choices. We went and it was AHHHH-MAYYYYY-ZINGGGGG! Everything from the architecture to the atmosphere to the precision-crafted cocktails to the food to the blooming rose garden we sat in as we dined. Best decision to throw away plans EVER!
I don’t know about y’all, but for me, the key to what makes travel so enjoyable for me is the EXPERIENCE. I love to see new things, to experience new things, to open my eyes to a new world. And every time, I fall chronically in love with wherever I am. So much of what has allowed this love affair to remain so strong is following my recommendations above. Following those recommendations, in turn, has allowed me to gain positive energy from those I share the travel with, and maintain healthy, positive, and genuinely enjoyable relationships with people who I consider family.