Ever traveled with someone who could use a vacation personality overhaul? Do you (gasp!) need a vacation personality overhaul?
Use this handy symptom checker to diagnose travel ailments, and learn to deal before they taint your next trip.
Symptoms: To the Timekeeper, a trip is like a research paper--they’ve got to get it done, and there’s one very personal, very practical way to do it. They keep their eye on the clock, always hurrying the group from one tour (which they planned) to the next (which they planned) to the restaurant (which they also planned). Timekeepers just want to make the most of their trip, but they miss out on the blissful beach naps and spontaneous ice cream runs that can only come during downtime.
Cure: If you’re a Timekeeper, think of all the moments in life when you’ve been pleasantly surprised by someone else’s suggestions. Then, once a day, go along with someone else’s suggestion.
If you’re traveling with a Timekeeper, introduce them to the beauty of slowing down. After your Timekeeper hustles you through a museum tour, for example, invite him on a leisurely stroll through the rose garden out back. He'll realize there are worthwhile activities that aren’t on his schedule.
The Scaredy Cat
Symptoms: The Scaredy Cat likes what she likes, and this trip is no time to change that. She might be legitimately afraid of some activities, like bungee jumping or a helicopter tour, but other times she’ll turn things down simply because she’s scared of changing her routine. It might be hard to spot the Scaredy Cat, as she’ll quietly nibble her chicken while everyone else is busy laughing over their first taste of sea urchin.
Cure: If you’re a Scaredy Cat, write down your main reason for sitting out--on paper. Did you truly skip Sunrise Yoga because the beach is covered in sand fleas, or was it mostly because you’ve just “never woken up that early?” If safety is a concern, skip the activity. If you’d just rather be doing (or eating, or talking about) something else, suck it up and join in.
Nobody likes to feel forced or controlled, so if you're traveling with a Scaredy Cat, let her know how much you’d love a yoga buddy while avoiding lines like “You haaave to come” or “You’re going to regret this.” Nobody likes being called out in a group, either, so convince the Scaredy Cat during a gentle, one-on-one conversation.
Symptoms: Underpackers either don’t pack the correct essentials for where they’re going, or they don’t pack at all. The Underpacker throws a few tank tops into a duffel, only to arrive and realize her shoulders should be covered at just about every Roman landmark. Because of her sporadic suitcase, the Underpacker spends a lot of precious vacation time tracking down T-shirts and a lot of precious vacation money on the touristy versions of items she already owns at home.
Cure: Underpackers often become Underpackers because they’re trying to avoid stress before their trip. Make the preparation process approachable by drafting a good old-fashioned packing list one week prior and putting three items in your suitcase each day.
If you’re traveling with an Underpacker, she’s going to ask to borrow your clothes. And your pillow. And your toothbrush. Make a personal rule that you’ll only lend her things when it doesn’t diminish your vacation experience. Yes, you can afford to lend out one of three skirts. But going without your sunglasses is going to stink, and you’ll end up resenting her for it.
Symptoms: You couldn’t get a Hippie to worry about a trip if you paid him. The Hippie doesn’t plan anything past his flight, saying he’ll “figure it out when he gets there.” This philosophy works in some destinations, but in others it leads to feelings of bitter regret. There’s nothing worse than realizing the museum you came for is closed on Mondays, or that your dream restaurant takes only cash, or that there are no hotel vacancies within a 40-mile radius.
Cure: If you have a Hippie personality, make a list of your top three things to do or see in your destination. Then research the basics of each one to make sure you’re prepared: vital info like ticket prices and bus schedules are all you need.
When traveling with a Hippie, resist the urge to thrust your plan on him. He’s a wanderer, and his ideal vacation involves wandering. Book excursions for yourself and invite him to join, but don’t be offended if he’d rather just “walk around.”
Symptoms: The Texter is in a new place, but he’s uncomfortable with leaving home behind. The Texter sends texts, tweets, Instagrams and emails during tours, hikes, shows and dinner. He’s having fun sending his canoeing pictures to friends, and he feels proud knocking out office emails while on the beach. The only people he hasn’t touched base with, in fact, are the ones he’s traveling with.
Cure: If you’re a Texter, it’s time for a digital detox. You don’t have to ditch your phone for the whole trip, but try going cold turkey for just the first day to see how it feels. You’ll have just talked to your people, so they won’t miss you too much, and there’s a chance you’ll get hooked to the feeling of wild digital abandon.
When you catch the Texter with his nose to the screen yet again, pull him into a conversation. It’s easiest for him to slip into cyberland when he’s not directly engaged, but if you ask him a question or to help you row the canoe, he has no choice but to live in the vacation moment.