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Help me think through what I want Re: travel to France


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#1 Quill

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 01:27 PM

And I don't mean what sites I want to see or where to stay; I mean having or not having travel companions.

My DD is applying for a study abroad program for spring semester in France. She plans to stay in the south of France from Jan-May (I think it will be if she gets in this program). While she is there, I plan to go over for probably two weeks' time. I will stay somewhere near to where she is staying and will do things with her when possible/when it works with her schedule, and I also plan to do several things I have wanted to do for several years. (I have never traveled in Europe before.)

I was not planning to gather any companions to go along. However, while talking about it with two of my SILs (the "nice" SILs, not either of the crazy ones), one SIL hinted that she would be happy to go along if I wanted company, and the other nice SIL said something agreeing that she would like that, too. The original SIL then graciously said something like, "I mean, not to butt into your trip plans. It's just that would be the way I would like to go, with someone who can speak French and I wouldn't mind it if you are looking for someone." So I sort of mumbled some ascent and said we'll see how it works out (because she hasn't been accepted into the program yet, so I have no details really yet).

So - there are some Pros if one or both SILs were to go along. For one thing, lodging would be cheaper by being divided by three. Also, it is certainly nice to share wonderful experiences with some friends rather than just marveling to oneself. It is a (potentially) bonding experience to travel with others because you have that shared experience and, if everyone is having a nice time, those good feelings get anchored to the relationship itself. Sorry that sounds so scientific, but truly, I'm not a person who longs for companionship, so sometimes I actually need to spell it out like that. But on to the Cons...

I know this is blunt, but I really like to control my travel experiences myself. If I have to negotiate with other adults (who certainly do have as much right to having the vacation of their dreams as I do), I will have a BAD TIME. I have been on enough trips to know that my far-away favorite trips have been one of two formats: 1) I'm the only adult and therefore control the vacation by default; or 2) there is another adult, but most decisions have already been made prior to the trip, as happens with a cruise. The trips I have enjoyed the least have been when there are twenty people and we have to come to some conscensus on where to eat, where to go, what to do, what to buy, etc., etc. ad nauseum. (Ex.: renting a beach house in OBX with a bunch of other people.)

So, for this trip to France, I just don't know what to do. I feel like I am happy for them to tag along IF I can somehow say I will have a particular itinerary in mind and they are welcome to join me or don't, but that I don't want to be responsible for their experience of the trip - does that even make sense? Should I say, "Here's my intended itinerary and if you want to do something different from this, go ahead but know that I have other plans."? Or should I just know that travel companions are not really my style and I will bitterly regret having invited them along?

I do also think that if I do invite them, I'm going to have to be bluntly crystal clear that they do not invite the psycho SIL, or preferably just don't talk about the trip at all around her until it's next week. I mean, I highly doubt they would do that because they know there's no love lost between us and the SIL who is friends with the nutjob SIL would almost certainly know not to do that. But just in case. There's no way I would have the nutjob SIL butting in to my trip; I would go into the Witness Protection Program first and go to France under an assumed identity. ;)

What does the Hive say?

And please, be nice. I know I have interpersonal relationship problems and sometimes behave as though I was raised by wolves, but I still have a tender heart.

#2 maize

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 01:32 PM

I think three adults could agree to a trip together where they split up and do their own thing if they have different desires--i.e., if you're in Paris and one wants to go to Versailles and the others don't, one goes.

If one wants only two days in Paris and the others want five days the first person goes on to Nice or wherever alone, with maybe an agreement to meet up again in three days.
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#3 mommyoffive

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 01:39 PM

I get all your reasons for yes or no.

 

I think you have to really think about what you want.  Go with that.  Don't feel bad either way.

 

 

Do not invite the crazy SIL

 

 

 

If you do invite them go with your idea of saying this is what my day is going to be like.  Feel free to join in or plan your own idea.   I think saying that before you go would be wise. 

 

I think it would be good to also plan time with the group and without them during the trip.  

I would be open and honest about it before you go so that there are no hard feelings when you want to go out for the morning and just do what you want.   

 

Group travel is hard.  I think you can make it easier with some open conversations and some time to yourself while on the trip.


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#4 Anne

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 01:57 PM

I understand all your reasons pro & con.  I have a friend that I have traveled extensively with.  Ahead of the trip we brainstorm what we'd like to do - each of us usually has a list.  Then we spend a lot of time talking about which things we would like to do together and which we want to separate for.   It's important to discuss how we will handle when one of us is *done* with a particular activity.  For instance, one of us likes museums more than the other.  When one is done, she has a plan - sit and read a book, depart for another activity, etc.   Lots of communication!!

 

I think your plan for telling your SIL upfront what you're interested in is great.  Communicate, communicate, communicate!!!

 

Anne


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#5 ErinE

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 02:31 PM

Don't invite crazy!

 

Plan your trip. Tell people, "I'll be here this weekend. XXX next weekend. If you'd like to come, I'm glad to have you."

 

I traveled by myself 20+ years ago. I needed it. It was empowering. I could drive anywhere in the US, but I never knew I could travel, even without knowing the language, anywhere in Europe. I loved it.

 

I think you will love Europe and will be too busy to worry about others. Ten years ago, DH and I went to Paris. I wanted to visit all the best macaron stores in Paris. He wanted to visit all the best art museums in Paris. We split up and it was okay. Enjoy your time there and only make changes for those willing to accommodate your preferences.


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#6 Critterfixer

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 02:43 PM

Go by yourself. You want to be able to be with your daughter when she can be with you, and that seems like it would be easier to coordinate with just the two of you, and not everyone else.


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#7 bibiche

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 02:58 PM

I would go when your daughter is finished her program and just travel with her. Say it is a mother-daughter trip. But I prefer to travel by myself or with people that I have specifically chosen to travel with. If you have any doubts (and you do) it is not a good idea to go with tag-alongs.
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#8 Quill

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 03:06 PM

Don't invite crazy!

Plan your trip. Tell people, "I'll be here this weekend. XXX next weekend. If you'd like to come, I'm glad to have you."

I traveled by myself 20+ years ago. I needed it. It was empowering. I could drive anywhere in the US, but I never knew I could travel, even without knowing the language, anywhere in Europe. I loved it.

I think you will love Europe and will be too busy to worry about others. Ten years ago, DH and I went to Paris. I wanted to visit all the best macaron stores in Paris. He wanted to visit all the best art museums in Paris. We split up and it was okay. Enjoy your time there and only make changes for those willing to accommodate your preferences.


See, this appeals to me, too. I do think it would be empowering. I kind of want to see how I manage.

#9 Quill

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 03:08 PM

I would go when your daughter is finished her program and just travel with her. Say it is a mother-daughter trip. But I prefer to travel by myself or with people that I have specifically chosen to travel with. If you have any doubts (and you do) it is not a good idea to go with tag-alongs.


Also not a bad idea. I was thinking of going in April because her birthday (and mine) happen in April.
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#10 ErinE

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 03:27 PM

See, this appeals to me, too. I do think it would be empowering. I kind of want to see how I manage.

 

Trust me. You'll be fine! Given all the apps available now, it must be even better. I knew back then that where ever I traveled someone would know enough about the few languages I could attempt conversation that I was fine. I carried a few language books in German, Italian, Spanish, and French. Honestly, most people asked me if I'd like to talk in English since my pathetic attempts at speaking another language were laughable. It always helps to try the another language! The signs and train schedules are easy to read anyways.


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#11 Twolittleboys

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 03:35 PM

If money isn't a serious problem, I would go without them. It isn't even as if you were there completely alone (which can be a bit lonely) as you would spend some time with your daughter. Sharing a trip with others always means compromises and as you are comfortable on your own and have never been I think it will be nicer if you can just do whatever YOU want. And while a shared vacation can be great for relationships, it can also be VERY VERY bad.

 

I'd say find a reasonable excuse and go alone.


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#12 prairiewindmomma

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 03:52 PM

I travel by myself and love it. I am willing to travel with my husband and kids.  I always have a preferred itinerary on big trips like that, and frankly, I don't want to have to be flexible.  If I traveled frequently enough these days that I could just do xyz on my next trip to France, that's one thing, but for "milestone" trips---no way. 


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#13 slackermom

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 04:16 PM

If both SIL come along, the other at least has a companion for any times that you will be doing things on your own or with your daughter. Keep in mind that if you hope to tag along with your daughter, there is a big difference between adding one person to her day vs adding 3 people.

Perhaps I would try to compromise, suggesting the SILs visit for part of the trip, during a time you expect your daughter to be occupied, and talk with them ahead of time about what your itinerary will be for that portion. Let them know that you would like to reserve the other time for a mother daughter visit.

When DH did an internship in France in our 20s, I visited for a while and had an amazing solo weekday adventure, mostly visiting museums, and we spent our evenings and weekends together. Sometimes our together time included doing things with old and new French friends. It was a good balance for me.
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#14 Annie G

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 04:27 PM

Have you traveled with them before? I travel with my two sisters and each is easy- one doesn't care what we do, and she's happy to go along with whatever we plan. She's also comfortable telling us she's tired and wants to go back to the hotel to rest. That works great for both of us and I'm glad she feels ok about bailing when she's tired. The other sister is also up for any adventure and she's like me....when traveling we are going to make the most of it and we keep going until we drop. Yeah, that would totally annoy some people. 

 

So what I'm asking...is their travel style similar to yours? 

 

I love doing things alone but on a trip of a lifetime I think I'd prefer to have someone with me. Part of the fun is the shared 'I can't believe we're doing this'! 

 

But going when your dd can travel with you might be even more perfect. 


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#15 Quill

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 07:09 PM

Have you traveled with them before? I travel with my two sisters and each is easy- one doesn't care what we do, and she's happy to go along with whatever we plan. She's also comfortable telling us she's tired and wants to go back to the hotel to rest. That works great for both of us and I'm glad she feels ok about bailing when she's tired. The other sister is also up for any adventure and she's like me....when traveling we are going to make the most of it and we keep going until we drop. Yeah, that would totally annoy some people.

So what I'm asking...is their travel style similar to yours?

I love doing things alone but on a trip of a lifetime I think I'd prefer to have someone with me. Part of the fun is the shared 'I can't believe we're doing this'!

But going when your dd can travel with you might be even more perfect.


I have travelled with the one SIL before, but it was along with the insane SIL, who dominates everything. So I am not really sure what that SIL's traveling style is when she's not being overshadowed by the crazy SIL. That's part of my anxiety because if I start asking questions to try and figure out what their travel style is, it is harder to then say, "Oh, well, that's not going to work for me, so sorry, you'll have to go to France with someone else." KWIM? I have a notion that I am much more of a history buff than either of them and I don't envision them wanting to spend much time in cathedrals, say, or castles or whatever. I feel like the one SIL will want to eat at restaurants a lot and I don't want to do that much; I'm planning to buy fresh market foods and make them at the rental. But really, that is all speculation; I am guessing based on what I know about their likes/dislikes in general.
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#16 Annie G

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 07:16 PM

Yeah it's hard to audition them and then say they didn't make the cut.  But even harder to travel with someone who isn't a good fit. 


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#17 Quill

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 08:33 PM

Yeah it's hard to audition them and then say they didn't make the cut. But even harder to travel with someone who isn't a good fit.


Ugh. That's what makes me just want to side-step it all and go by myself/only with DD.
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#18 maize

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 08:40 PM

Ugh. That's what makes me just want to side-step it all and go by myself/only with DD.


Well, follow your gut then and enjoy your adventure :)
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#19 Pam in CT

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 09:15 PM

I think if I were in your shoes I'd likely go at the end of your daughter's term, or time it to coincide with her break if she has one.  That way you'd have some empowering traveling-alone time, some mother-daughter time, and presumably her French will be good enough by then to act as entree... though it's easy enough to get around France without French.

 

One consideration is transportation -- will she be in an area with good transit, or will you rent a car?  If you're out in a pastoral provincial town without a means of getting around, that could be frustrating.  Though maybe Uber has filled that gap by now, in many places it has.



#20 Quill

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 09:30 PM

I think if I were in your shoes I'd likely go at the end of your daughter's term, or time it to coincide with her break if she has one. That way you'd have some empowering traveling-alone time, some mother-daughter time, and presumably her French will be good enough by then to act as entree... though it's easy enough to get around France without French.

One consideration is transportation -- will she be in an area with good transit, or will you rent a car? If you're out in a pastoral provincial town without a means of getting around, that could be frustrating. Though maybe Uber has filled that gap by now, in many places it has.


I'm not sure about the transportation yet. I think she will be actually staying IN a city, so I expect we will both be staying (not together) in locations walkable to public transport. I'm 99% sure the city has a line that goes directly to Paris. But there will be other places I want to go that may require car rental or a service. I can't figure this part out fully until I know she is in the program and I know where she will stay. I think we will actually be closer to Italy than Paris, so it is very likely that I will take at least a day or two to go see some things in Italy. :)

Dd just texted me that she submitted her application today and is a bundle of nerves. :)
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#21 mommyoffive

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 08:47 AM

Fingers crossed for her.


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#22 ErinE

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 08:59 AM

I'm not sure about the transportation yet. I think she will be actually staying IN a city, so I expect we will both be staying (not together) in locations walkable to public transport. I'm 99% sure the city has a line that goes directly to Paris. But there will be other places I want to go that may require car rental or a service. I can't figure this part out fully until I know she is in the program and I know where she will stay. I think we will actually be closer to Italy than Paris, so it is very likely that I will take at least a day or two to go see some things in Italy. :)

Dd just texted me that she submitted her application today and is a bundle of nerves. :)

 

Spending a final semester in Italy was the only reason I had any college debt as I paid my way through school. One parent wanted me to graduate a semester early and start working. My older sibling told me I was insane if I passed on the chance to spend a few months abroad. My sibling was right and it was the greatest experience of my college education.

 

Hopeful thoughts sent for your daughter (and you). What an exciting opportunity!


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#23 Alice

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 02:27 PM

I would go alone.  It sounds like that's what you really want to do. I would love to travel alone if given the chance. 


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