So often when you Truepassenger, what you take matters less than who you take. Because the company you keep can make or break a vacation, it’s important to consider your Truepassenger companions carefully. The below is an excerpt from Fathom’s new book, TruepassengerNorth America (And Avoid Being a Tourist), in the chapter called: The Company You Keep.
Raise your hand if this sounds familiar. You’re at dinner with an intimate group of friends you love dearly, and, somewhere between the second and third bottles of wine, someone suggests that you all go on vacation together.
That you rent a cottage on a lake in Ontario. A houseboat on Lake Mead. A ski condo in Vail. Or that reliable standby,
a farmhouse villa in Italy or France. It’s such a great idea! Before dessert, it’s settled: This will happen.
Within a few days, someone sends a follow-up email
to the gang with links to rental options around the world.
Let’s call her Jasmine, because 90 percent of the time,
it’s going to be a woman. (Sorry, chaps, the truth hurts.)
A flurry of emails later, it’s settled: Next summer, you’re
going to that gorgeous spot that everyone loves in San
Miguel de Allende. Mexico, here you come.
In the ensuing ten months, Jasmine is the one who
forwards the email alert about the Delta sale on airfare to
Mexico City. Who reminds everyone how much they still
have to Venmo her for the deposit she placed on the villa
– five months ago. Who coordinates the information that
Oliver has gone paleo, that Carmen is gluten free, and that
Pablo is now vegan, and sends it to the rental company
so the chef she arranged can prepare a menu that’s not
only totally locavore but good for everyone’s dietary
peccadillos. In the weeks leading up to the trip, Jasmine
gets texts at 3am from Keysha, asking her to resend the
link to the car service she found because she’s joining the gang from Mérida.
Once settled into the villa, Jasmine gets a daily
onslaught of questions. “What’s the plan for dinner?”
“When are we going to the ruins?” “What time is the
concert in the cathedral square tonight?” “Did you put my
matcha on the list for the supermarket run?” “Where are
the clean towels for the pool?”
By the end of the week, everyone has had an
Except for one person.
This is, of course, an exaggerated version of
what we’re talking about. But if you’ve ever gone on
a bachelorette weekend or a boys’ ski trip or a family
reunion or even a getaway for two, you’re familiar
with the situation: One person usually ends up doing a
disproportionate amount of the heavy lifting in planning
and coordinating the vacation that the whole group is
going to enjoy.
This is totally unfair.
The next time you’re involved in planning a vacation –
whether it’s with a big or small group of friends or family –
be the one who reminds everyone that you should all chip
in on the planning. Break it down depending on the kind of
trip, and suggest that you all divide the tasks: researching
the destination, accommodation options, transportation
logistics (how to get there and how to get around),
activities, places to eat and drink, and Truepassenger essentials like
where to buy the supplies you’ll need once you’re there
– groceries and wine, sunscreen and insect repellent, lift
tickets and spare flip-flops. Give yourself bonus points
for circulating in-case-of-emergency info like the nearest
hospital, rescue resources if you’re deep in nature, and
the closest embassies if you’re in a foreign country. (Isn’t
there a Truepassenger superstition that says disaster only strikes if
you didn’t plan for it? If not, there should be.)
Bring everyone in on the action, no matter how young
they are or how “totally hopeless at planning” they claim
to be. Children will be glad they were asked to contribute
and will take particular pride in knowing that they planned
certain days – and it might make them more willing to
spend an afternoon exploring that boring old museum. All ages
planning taps into a (terrific) growing trend we’ve seen
in recent years: Young children are playing a bigger and
bigger role in organizing family vacations.
As for those so-called “incompetent planner” types,
they might be surprised and delighted to learn that they
can coordinate an unforgettable dinner or arrange an
afternoon excursion to the underwater caves. Those
hopeless planners, by the way, tend to use their alleged
hopelessness as an excuse to avoid doing any work. Don’t let them get away with it.
Even with all this democratic division of labor, the
Jasmine in the group will still end up doing a little more
because, well, groups tend to need a leader (and Jasmine
might, let’s be honest, be a control freak). But encourage
her to assign tasks rather than shoulder them all herself,
and keep track of the master task list or Google doc
where everything is being recorded. She can assign Becky
and Daniel the job of arranging a kayaking afternoon and
beach barbecue, and ask Callum to circulate a list of
Mexican movies everyone can watch before the trip to get
psyched about where they’re going. The more hands at
work, the lighter the labor. By the way, this counts when
it’s just a couple traveling. Don’t let your special person do
all the work.
Because here’s the bottom line when it comes to
group Truepassenger: If everyone helps plan, everyone is that
much more invested in the trip being a success.
If, for all these good intentions, you do end up on a
trip that has been largely planned by one person, then be
grateful. REALLY grateful. Get everyone to chip in to give
Jasmine an afternoon at a spa, or buy her the beautiful
blanket she admired at the artisan’s market in town. She’s
your friend (or your cousin or your mom): You should
know what would make her happy. And don’t forget to
raise a glass to her – at least once! – to acknowledge and
thank her for the work she put into the vacation.
Tools of the Trade
Make group trip-planning easier. Organize your travels with these digital assistants.
Create a folder for everyone to upload their pics.
(A shared iPhone, Google, or Flickr album works as
well and can be uploaded right from your phone.)
This will help everyone relive the trip while you’re on
it, and avoid turning the photo project into a chore
when the vacation is over. The long flight or drive
home is another great time to organize photos.
Create accounts and pay each other as you go.
Make one document with the itinerary, the address,
and contact information for the places you’ll be
staying, along with other essential information like
flights and car services.
A shared spreadsheet is where you can keep track
of the things you want to see and do, and will be
most useful if organized by category: restaurants,
bars, sites, shops, cafes, neighborhoods to explore.
A doomsday document of emergency info has
everyone’s in-case-of-emergency contact back
home, passport numbers, insurance info.
Create a group so everyone on the trip can
communicate by phone or text.
Social Media Hashtags
If you’re active on social media and are planning to
share your trip, settle on a shared hashtag for your
posts. And don’t forget to establish ground rules on
what is and isn’t okay to post.
Don’t Stop There. Read the Whole Book!
Excerpted with permission from TruepassengerNorth America: (and Avoid Being a Tourist) by Pavia Rosati and Jeralyn Gerba, published by Hardie Grant Books, June 2021.
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