A few years ago, I backpacked through Southeast Asia with my best friend, Lauren. We started in Kuala Lumpur, and by time we parted ways in Ho Chi Minh City, we were in the throws of violent food poisoning and barely on speaking terms. I was exasperated that Lauren had no interest in decision making, and Lauren was stressed by my tendency to get an idea and spontaneously alter our plans. Our frustrations climaxed with a fuming argument on a public train over 35 Thai baht (roughly one U.S. dollar). Thankfully, we both see the humor in this now.
These sorts of frustrations are all-too-common in travel. You embark on a much-anticipated trip with a friend or partner, then mid-way through realize you have very different perspectives on how to have a great trip.
On discovering FourSight, I wondered if thinking preferences might be at the root of the challenge. So I sat down with friends of four different thinking preferences (a Clarifier, Ideator, Developer and Implementer) and asked them each to describe their ideal travel experience.
Nicholas, an Implementer, explains how he likes to get ready for a trip:
“I like to make sure everything at home is done so that nothing takes away from that transition [of travel]. I need everything taken care of in order to be in the right mindset for the trip. My other big thing is I need to know what I’m going to read. I like starting something new with each new trip.”
This displays some pretty common Implementer buzzwords. How I do to get ready for a trip? Get it done! Taking care of business! And bring a fresh new task to complete, in this case, a book. That way, even when he’s sitting around waiting for the bus, he’s guaranteed to have something to do.
Let’s compare this with Ellie, our Clarifier, who explains how she likes to get ready. (We kid you not, this is a direct quote):
“Research! Research! Research! And watch YouTube videos and vlogs. I like to see a place. I don’t like to just read about it.”
Like a true Clarifier, Ellie is all about gathering information and understanding exactly what to expect. She wants to know what she’s getting into so she can anticipate any problems and be prepared.
We asked Angela, our Developer, what it takes for her to have a great trip:
“I have a very loose itinerary I try to follow. I’ll span it between cities. If I’m in a city for say, seven days, I’ll put things in chronologically and then choose between options while I’m there.”
Like any good Developer, Angela wants to understand the solution set and then evaluate and weigh her options. Her itinerary is both highly customized, specific to times and places, yet loose. She doesn’t require full commitment to any of it until the last possible moment.
It sounds like a foolproof plan. Does it ever go awry? Angela sighs,
Describe the last time you were traveling with a friend or group and it did not go well:
“Oh my gosh. Yeah. I went to Chicago [with nine friends] and didn’t have an itinerary. Everyone kept asking me questions and I kept just saying, ‘I don’t know,’ and they wanted more guidance than that.”
A Developer’s worst nightmare? Being the deciding factor for not just her itinerary, but also an entire group’s. It takes time to evaluate the options and choose the best. She isn’t comfortable making a snap judgment and asking others to follow.
We asked Philip, our Ideator, to describe the last time he was traveling with a friend and it did not go well:
“I remember I was hiking through Spain with a buddy of mine. We ended up separating after just a week. We made it about a quarter of the way, but it was just so heavy. I’d say, ‘Hey! There’s a festival in the town we’re about to pass through, let’s stay a couple extra days and check it out!’ Or I would ask to try the unmarked trail and just see what might be up the hill. Everything was, ‘no,’ or, ‘I don’t think I want to do that.’ It was exhausting.”
For Philip, the exciting part of travel is deviating from the itinerary to pursue the surprise discoveries along the way. Anything is possible on a travel adventure, and worst-case scenario is someone with a plan set in stone. Philip insists:
“I never have an itinerary. You can’t dig into a place if you’re not willing to let it show you what there is to see. My last big trip was on a one-way ticket. I flew out thinking I was going to end up from Portugal to Morocco and ended up in middle of no where Croatia.”
Through the lens of FourSight profiles, we can see that when they travel…
Clarifiers want to know exactly what they’re getting into.
Ideators like to pursue unexpected opportunities.
Developers like to construct flexible plans with clear alternatives.
Implementers like to get things done, even if it’s reading a book.
It is easy to see where our friends Nicholas, Ellie, Angela and Philip might differ on how to have the ultimate travel experience. Next time you travel, check out your companions’ FourSight profiles and have a frank conversation about what all parties expect from the trip.
Annemarie Boss is a creative workshop and meeting facilitator based in St. Petersburg, Florida. She loves travel, serious play, and cheese.