One thing I’ve found over the years is that a great trip starts with good planning. Sure, vacation is supposed to be fun. But, you’re in a different place and sometimes the simplest task like making your favorite iced tea or figuring out where to eat can become frustrating. On top of that, individuals in your group may have different ideas of what to do next. We’ve all experienced it… when someone gets frustrated and becomes down right grumpy. I call this Grumpy Traveler Syndrome (GTS).
Grumpy Traveler Syndrome (GTS): A contagious affliction that occurs when one or more members of a traveling party becomes disgruntled, frustrated, or have unmet expectations. GTS is often better prevented as it is difficult to reverse once symptoms begin.
To avoid this grumpiness, use the 5 C’s to plan your itinerary:
- Common Interests. Consider the likes and dislikes of each person. For example, I like to shop just as much as the next fellow, but my husband and kiddo do not! So, I keep shopping down to a minimum (to buy a tee, of course). Even though I might enjoy an afternoon spent shopping, dragging them along is a recipe for GTS. It just isn’t worth it. Having said that, everyone isn’t going to always love doing the exact same thing – that just wouldn’t be normal. Each person will have to bend a little. It is like anything… be considerate of others and expect some give and take.
- Clock. Have realistic expectations for your travel pace. Do not try to cram too much in one day. Remember, the fastest way to GTS is for someone to feel tired and/or rushed. For my family, many itineraries I find online are too ambitious for us. We tend to enjoy a slower pace. Having down time is an important part of an enjoyable vacation. Your group may be heartier than mine and prefer to see as much in one day as possible. That just doesn’t work for my family. Bottom line – know what pace works for your family.
- Crowds. Make sure you understand how each person in your group feels about crowds as well as hustle and bustle. I know people who love the vibrance of a big city like Chicago, Boston, or San Francisco. Keep in mind that what is exciting to one person can cause anxiety for another. For my family, we can enjoy a city for a few days, but it typically doesn’t work for us for a week long trip. On our California and Oregon trip, we spent a couple of days in San Francisco before heading to Crater Lake National Park and to the Redwoods where we had a lot more personal space. One caveat, a National Park can feel crowded particularly at headliner attractions – think Old Faithful. However, even in the most popular National Park, you don’t have to work too hard to find solitude off the beaten path.
- Climate. People have different opinions on the ideal temperature. In my family, our ideal temperature is about 60 degrees, and our tolerance level for hot weather is low! For us, hot weather leads to GTS. Others may enjoy someplace like Lake Powell in the summer for the water sports, but we like it in the spring. Our interest is hiking and the unique scenery which is more enjoyable for us in moderate temperatures.
- Costs. Let’s just go ahead and get this out there… if one person in your family is worried about every dime spent, that is NOT FUN for anyone. Guess what happens… yes, Grumpy Traveler Syndrome. Make sure to have discussions about trip costs with any adult who is paying for any part of the trip. What may seem like a “worth it” expense to you may just cause stress and anxiety for your spouse. Again, that means it is not “worth it”.
Keep in mind that when you’re planning your itinerary for your family or group, it might not look like someone else’s itinerary. A vacation is supposed to be a fun time together. Considering these 5 C’s for itineraries, can help you avoid a nasty case of Grumpy Traveler Syndrome.