1. Plan a trip with people who have a similar vacation-style as you
If someone’s idea of a vacation is doing nothing but relaxing at the beach, but your idea is waking up early and running around all day, you probably will have a frustrating time together. It’s not that you can’t go on a vacation with anyone, but if you know you have conflicting opinions on how to spend the time, you’re going to be frustrated and they’re going to be frustrated with you. There’s nothing wrong with either one of those philosophies. It’s just very hard when you’re trying to plan a trip and please everyone at the same time.
2. Be flexible
With four people in the mix, you need to be flexible. You can’t be on such a rigid schedule and determination to do something without considering that there may be a few hiccups. For example, say someone woke up late and needs to finish getting ready. “BUT WE NEED TO BE THERE AT 9!” Well, you’re going to be late. So just walk around your hotel… take some pictures of random objects… do some guidebook reading… talk to the cleaning lady. Just be prepared to be flexible. Nothing makes a more frustrating time for someone than feeling rushed, or rushing someone else. If you rush someone else and make them feel bad about running late, guess whose in for a terrible rest of the day? Everyone.
3. It’s easier to get along with your spouse when you have a constant audience
If it’s just the two of you, you can hash things out and potentially stay mad at each other all day long. However, when you have another couple there and it’s their vacation too, you can let things go easier. If you stay mad all day because you’re upset at your spouse, you’re ruining the day for everyone else. It’s better to just take care of things when the two of you are alone, and change your mind when you’re with other people. We’ve all been in a car ride with someone whose silently angry, and you know how that makes you feel.
4. Someone always has to go to the bathroom
For someone with kids, I’m sure this is a no-brainer. However, no matter where you are or what you are doing… invariably, someone always has to go to the bathroom. You can be ahead of the game by thinking about bathrooms throughout the day. I know this sounds ridiculous, but it really will save you some headaches. Whenever you’re at a restaurant, remind everyone to go to the bathroom before you leave. If you’re at a museum, everyone needs to go to the bathroom before you leave. Otherwise, you’re at a metro stop with someone hoping around saying, “I HAVE TO GO. I HAVE TO GO.” While everyone else panics and tries to figure out where there is a bathroom. Remember what your mom always said when she told you to use the bathroom and you didn’t have to go… she said, “Just try to go.” That way, you’re not in a panic situation where all of a sudden you have to go and everyone is forced to run around asking every Tom, Dick and Harry “WHERE IS THE NEAREST CAN!?”
5. Never let anyone get starving
6. Be willing to make compromises
Not everyone is going to be happy with every group decision. If you really want pizza, and everyone else wants burgers… be willing to get burgers. Just make your opinion known and ask that maybe you can get pizza the next night. Just remember that your opinion is one of many and you need to be respectful. You can’t have everything you want all the time. Be willing to accept that and be sure to ask people to consider what you want for the next time.
7. Spend some time apart from the group
Make sure to plan for a little time for just you, or just you and your spouse. We would wake up early in the morning and go for walks individually as couples. We would go to bed early some nights so we could spend some time catching up from the day. It’s great to spend time with others, but it’s also good to take a little time away from the group and enjoy a little peace and quiet.
These were some of the things we learned on the trip, but I must say that we also had so much fun. We laughed hard, we saw beautiful things together and shared an experience that enriched all of our friendships and marriages together. We also had our own personal photographers and all got some great candid pictures of each other as couples and individuals that was really fun to come home and share. As I said, added challenges, but added rewards as well.
Thanks to my lovely friends, Jeff and Tasha, for letting me talk about our trip together on this site. (Especially since I never told you and you didn’t give me your permission. But here’s me asking for forgiveness instead of permission.)