It’s March, the month of Spring Break – the inaugural event of the vacation season! Whether your trip is a close-to-home “stay-cation”, a cross-country, or out-of-count venture, unlimited travel opportunities await to enjoy with family and friends. In Tom Sawyer Abroad, the philosophical Huckleberry Finn mused, “I have found out there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.”
Group travel can create life-long friendships or it can be a disastrous nightmare of a dream vacation gone awry. Many people pack not only everything they need for a trip, but also their eccentricities and quirks with expectations that their traveling companions will tolerate, accept, and even celebrate them. People are often surprised to learn that this just isn’t so. Courtesy, respect, good manners, and flexibility are the ingredients to make traveling with a group a delicious memory.
Consider this guide to travel manners if you want your friends at the beginning of the trip to still be your friends when the journey ends
· Determine group and individual agendas and schedules for the trip before you leave. Plane, train, and tour schedules must be observed. Last minute “oh, by the way” changes to the schedule as you are leaving for the day do not earn bonus points with your friends. Keep a spirit of flexibility to accommodate some spur-of-the-moment and spontaneous adventures.
· Consider the type of travel and the purpose of the trip to pack and dress appropriately. The trademark ball cap, t-shirt, sweats or jeans identify you immediately as a tourist and are inappropriate in cathedrals, many museums, and nice restaurants, especially in foreign countries. Stylish, appropriate traveling clothes can be inexpensive and pack and launder better than jeans and sweats. Pack to layer and “mix and match.” If you are traveling and working in remote areas, the traditional “uniform” of jeans, sweats, and sneakers is a good choice.
· If you can’t carry it, don’t take it. Consider the essentials you need every day; then add the luxury items. Even in foreign countries, you can often find those items you run out of or forgot. The exception is prescription medicine. Pack enough medicine to cover the entire trip plus a few extra days in case of delays.
· Be a conservative shopper. If you came without it, you can probably live without it. Remember you will have to pack it, carry it, and declare it in customs if traveling internationally. Don’t depend on your friends to have extra space to pack your bargains and treasures.
· Be a good ambassador for your country and the group you represent, whether business, church, or just-for-fun group.
· Be responsible for your own travel items unless you have medical problems that require assistance.
· If you have a medical condition that requires special meals, assistance, and/or travel arrangements, advise your travel companions before you leave.
· When traveling by car, always have the car serviced before a road trip including tires, brakes, engine, and heater or air conditioner depending on the climate where you will be traveling.
Start the trip with a full tank of gas.
· Expect the best, but plan and pack for the worst, including weather, time delays, airport congestion, and health problems.
Mark Twain wisely advised, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it solely on these accounts.”