I love people. Actually that’s a lie. I love my dog. I hate people.
Not all people. Some people are ok.
I may hate them more after I travel with them. It depends.
Traveling with others may be the quickest way to lose a good friend.
Being cooped up in a car with someone for 10 hours or stuck on a cruise ship with them for 10 days, may test the boundaries of your friendship real fast.
Over the years, I have put together some hard and fast rules about traveling with others. The way I look at it, we spend a year or two sometimes, scrimping and saving every extra nickel and dime so we can take a trip together with our kids and sometimes without the kids. So I am not allowing anyone to hijack our vacation.
Feel free to use these rules yourself:
1. We are not sharing anything. That means a house, a condo, a hotel room or a car. We learned this one the hard way. We don’t share accommodations because when my kids go to bed I don’t want to deal with yours. Once my kids fall asleep I want to relax with a nice glass of wine. I don’t want your overtired kids running around crying, irritating me. Simply put, I also want to be able to come home from an amusement park or long day at the mall, take off my bra and walk around in my nightdress or nothing (if there are no kids). I don’t want to feel like I can’t unwind after a long hot day in the sun. I also don’t want to have to tip toe around if you go to bed early or sleep in late. I definitely don’t want someone knocking on the bathroom door asking me how long I am going to be!
Sharing accommodations may save a few bucks but it will cost you your sanity in the end. Now I know what you’re saying. “I agree with not sharing accommodations but come on we can’t share a car!” No we can’t. If we get up in the morning and decide we are heading to IHop for breakfast, going for a drive or just want to spend time together, I don’t want to ask anyone if it’s ok for me to use the car I paid to rent. Or if we decide to sleep late I don’t want someone knocking on our door saying they want the car and then we are without one all day. I certainly don’t want to have to stand in a parking lot and “compromise” on where we are going, how long we are staying or when we are coming home. The solution; rent your own accommodations and your own car. We will meet up with you at some point.
2. I am not babysitting for you. I learned this one the hard way when a couple we were travelling with asked me if I could take their daughter to the pool with my kids while they were getting ready. Two hours later, they still had not shown up and the kid did not want to swim in the pool that my kids were in and kept running to a bigger pool. So I spent the morning chasing this kid leaving my kids unattended at the other pool. When I finally came to my senses and dragged the kid back to her room, the parents were still in bed because “They were not feeling well.” It was the third time they pulled this one on me. So I put this rule in effect. I tell people up front, it is great that our kids can hang out together, but I am not babysitting, not for an hour, a minute or a second. I came on this trip to spend time with my kids not yours and I am not being responsible for someone else’s kids.
3. I am not lending you money. When any family is traveling budgets are tight. Food and eating out take up a big part of your budget and we have to watch every dime. So every $20 I lend you I have to take away from my vacation and I am simply not doing it. Now if you get mugged or you lose your wallet then I will help you out but don’t look at me in a restaurant and say “You get this bill and I’ll get the next one.” Because that never works out. Pay for your own meals and I’ll pay for mine.
4. Your agenda is not my agenda. If we want to go see a show or a concert and you don’t, do not expect us to cancel our plans. Why, would you? If we want to go to an amusement park five days in a row, don’t look at me and say “I am sick of the parks we are doing something else.” Go do it and we can meet up for drink later. Don’t pick out a list of shows, restaurants and malls you want to go to and expect me to stick to your schedule and don’t criticize me if I want to go shopping several days in a row. Do your own thing and meet up later.
5. I am not dumbing down my vacation for you. We once traveled with a couple who kept saying “We can’t afford that restaurant, why can’t we go to McDonalds, and we don’t want to spend that much on a hotel, let’s get one a few miles away from the beach, it’s cheaper.” No way, no how! I can eat McDonalds at home and I came for the beach.
I don’t mind saving a few bucks and I don’t even mind going to McDonalds when we are on the run, but I am not eating there every night to save money. I am also not staying in some flea bag $35 a night motel to save money. When I am traveling, especially with the kids, I want a hotel that’s close to everything and has security. A $35 a night does not offer security or clean beds.
I know what you’re thinking “She’s brilliant or she’s a bitch.” Maybe, but I am a brilliant bitch that’s going to have a great vacation! The bottom line is you don’t save your money all year round to take a vacation then let someone else hijack it. It’s ok to speak up and say thanks but no thanks.
Having said that we have had some amazing vacations with friends. Once you respect each other’s boundaries, it is really fun to have them around. The secret is sit down with those friends beforehand and say “These are the things we are going to do on this vacation if you want to come great, but if you’re not interested that’s great too.” Plan to meet for breakfast before you start out, meet for supper at the end of the day or meet for a drink when you all get back.” Chances are if they are close friends they will want to see most of the shows and events you want to see.
Don’t get miffed if your friends don’t want to go to every show and restaurant you want to. They may have dietary restrictions. For example, my son has a life threatening allergy to all nuts so we are not eating in a Chinese restaurant where they may or may not use peanut oil.
Like I said, you save your money all year round and use your precious vacation days to spend time with your family, not to be at someone else’s beckon call. Don’t feel bad about saying “Thanks but no thanks. We’ll meet up with you later.