The 5 C's for Group Travel

Fifth grade was a big year for me.

Did anyone else have a lot of research projects in the 5th grade? I spent most of the year researching everything from birds to culture and even Disney World! (Yes, I got to research the happiest place on earth for a grade!!) I have to give kudos to my teacher though, because she was awesome. She (in not so many words) told me that I could do anything I put my mind to. My grades soared as I was challenged both creatively and mentally. I can't actually think of a time when that happened again until college.

It was also the first year that I began to plan family vacations. We never went very far, but I would always research everything extensively. My parents would give me a budget, and I would use the internet to find the best hotel and the most amazing things to do on said budget. (Great idea to teach children budgeting, parents!!)

Not much has changed since then. I still love planning vacations, and I still research everything to death. The one thing that has changed is who I am researching for when I am planning these elaborate adventures.

This past summer I had the chance to help my in-laws plan a vacation to NYC and Boston. Of course, Justin talked me up to his parents about how awesome I am at planning things on the cheap, blah, blah, blah … but when it came time to do the actual planning, our group communication left much to be desired. Yes, we eventually figured everything out, BUT we went from having a year to hone in our plans … to a month. Do you know how much less research you can actually do in a month compared to a whole year? Yeah…

Fast forward a bit.

Now we are planning a trip to Europe with some folks overseas. Luckily, we figured out our communication errors prior to a month before the trip. (That's progress!) However, planning a trip with people you cannot talk with (often) face-to-face has it's own challenges. Imagine putting together a presentation or school project with someone you can only text and e-mail with; difficult, yes?

Now imagine their first language is something entirely different from your own. Yes, everyone (I'm talking about) speaks English, but to what degree? Can you find ways to simplify what you are saying, including the number of words used, in order to communicate the most effectively? (No, don't pretend you are proficient or even good at speaking their language!)*

Then, to make things even more confusing, I'm already terrible at understanding what people want when I can see their body language, so you can imagine it gets even worse for me when I can't see it.

I read an article on NPR recently where they were talking about how you are far more passionate when speaking your native language. Words from other languages often don't contain quite the same emotional meanings as the ones in your own language. (i.e. "I love you" to an Italian may hold the same emotional value as "I like steak" to an American. I mean – really, who doesn't like steak?)

So along with the already struggling communication through e-mail and text, you then have less meaningful text to try to discern because the people you are communicating with do not share the same emotional language as you. Crazy, right?! Or cool. Or something. ;)**

Inevitably, we decided to skype. Not quite the same as having a discussion with your in-laws over dinner about what there is to see and do in NYC, but I'm 90% positive the little talk helped with our communication gap. Or at least we were able to decide which car to lease. :)

The 5 C's For Group Travel

1. Communicate.

Don't assume the other person knows what you want to do or how you want to get there/do it. 

As you may have heard, Justin and I were initially planning a week-long trip; our friends were planning on us taking a month-long trip. Justin and I were planning on renting a large car big enough for 4; our friends assumed they would be driving separately. I can't think of any other misunderstandings, but I can tell you that if you don't communicate, they will happen.

2. Confirm.

Talk a bit, and then confirm. Confirm, confirm, confirm. ESPECIALLY before everything is set in stone.

I just rented an apartment for one night longer than we are suppose to stay in Germany, because I did not take the time to confirm with my co-travelers. Was I being lazy? Was I worried about bothering them? Perhaps both. Either way, I would have saved myself money, time, and hassle if I had confirmed with them prior to booking the stay.

3. Compromise.

If you say you want to go to option A, and someone else wants to go to Option B, decide how much you really want to go to option A. Is it a must-see or just a would-like-to-see on your list? Can you find an alternative that would suit your preferences just as well? Are you open to going to places that you may not have even thought about before?

4. Be Considerate.

Both before you go and while you are on the trip, make sure to be considerate of one another. You will be spending a number of hours together, and the last thing you need is arguments and frustration. Take words with a grain of salt; perhaps what was said was not meant. If you need time alone, try your best to find it and take it. Sometimes I get really overwhelmed with a bunch of people and I just need a moment to breathe. After I have my moment, I can come back to the group refreshed and calm. I recommend everyone take that opportunity if they need it.

5. Celebrate!

You are (or are going) on vacation with friends (and/or family)! What isn't there to celebrate?! 

*cue happy dance*

Do you have any recommendations for group travel? Feel free to share with me in the comments below! 

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

*This is when you are grateful for picture texts.
**Makes me think about The Five Love Languages and how one struggles to even understand our spouse's emotional language even though both speak English!!
Also reminds me of a quote I once heard that you can only speak to the heart of someone if you can speak their language. Very cool indeed.
***I'm participating in the SITS girls' February writing prompts. Feel free to join in!!

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