Saturday, June 25, 2011

touring with a group

      If you've ever toured with a group, you know the pluses and minuses of traveling together, many of which relate to hospitality. 

I'm very, very tempted to rant about several hospitality fatalities encountered during my experiences touring with other travelers. But in the spirit of good relations, I'll veer toward prescriptions.  

1. Be grateful.  When someone buys you a drink, a meal, or a gift, say "thank you" with more than a hint of sincerity.  You are not entitled to anyone being gracious to you.

2.  Be gracious to others.  Regardless of how others respond, continue to extend your generosity, hospitality, and good manners.  Hold the door, offer to pay more than your share, and help with sticky situations.

3.  Be a good roommate.  At the very least accommodate your roommate's reasonable wishes.  If she's hot, allow her to turn up the AC.  If he likes to sleep on one side of the bed, give it to him.  Go beyond accommodating and anticipate your roommate's needs.  What would it be like to use the restroom after you?  Have you created a problem for the next person using something in your hotel room?  Will your roommate need some time alone?  Does your roommate like to separate during the day?

4.  Be sociable.  Start conversations.  Ask others questions about their lives. Listen to what others say.  Being shy is not an excuse for being unsociable.  Give others a turn to speak.  Joke only about yourself.  Praise others.  Spend time with a variety of people traveling on the trip.

5. Be independent.  Have a map of the city. Know where you're going and how you're getting there.  Know the name and location of your hotel and bus.  Have emergency contact information with you at all times. Become familiar with how to use your phone or a public one if you’re overseas. Help out others if they're disoriented.  

6. Learn and use the language.  Greet people, excuse yourself, thank others, and ask questions in the native language.  Don't worry about your pronunciation.  Just give it a shot.

7.  Research the history and culture of the places you're visiting.  Acquaint yourself with the government, economy, art, history, customs, hospitality, and religions of your host land.  Familiarize yourself with your itinerary and be eager to hear more information.

Following these few steps toward being a hospitable group traveler will enhance your host-guest skills and very possibly, your own traveling experience.

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"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." - from A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf