Thursday, August 30, 2007

Notsosavvy Travelers

I have been inexplicably short-tempered with clients this week (I blame the month of August, which has sucked). But when you give the clients forms to fill out for their Antarctica trips, and the forms, very clearly, in large block letters, ask you to write your name AS IT APPEARS ON YOUR PASSPORT, and you write "Dave Herman Johnson" on your form, and your mother (who is paying for the trip) has been referring to you as "David" during her many phone calls... I would like to point out that Dave/David is 26 years old. Not 6.

So I have to follow up with Dave Herman Johnson and send him a quick email:

ME: Your forms have your passport name as "Dave" - is this right? Or is it "David"?

DAVE: I have David on my drivers license

So, not only does he not really check his passport (which, I'm assuming has his legal name which is obviously David), and checks his drivers license instead, but he doesn't even acknowledge his error in filling out the forms. Not even an "oops, sorry about that".

I don't understand why this is so complicated.

My past client, Norma Miller, had the opposite problem, in that she wanted to attend to every single detail possible before she left for her trip to the Galapagos. Every single detail, right down to what she would be eating, each day on her trip, and what she would be wearing, each day on her trip. Norma had the added handicap of being 76 years old and living in an email-free household, which meant she had to call me. Nearly every day. For six months, before her trip.

Norma would envision every malady/disaster possible, and ask me how she should handle it if it happened. I understand wanting to be prepared, but I think if you are expecting the very worst to happen, and obsessing over it on a daily basis, maybe traveling just isn't your thing?

She would also call and say things like "I received this Recommended Packing List you sent, and it says I should bring long pants and a sweater for Quito (Ecuador)."

And I would say "Yes, Quito can get quite chilly at night, sometimes in the 50s, and dressing in layers, and things like sweaters are recommended."

Then she would say "Well, what did YOU wear?" And I would think about my cute lime green fleece zip-up jacket that I bought in the children's department at REI, and wonder if Norma would understand "fleece jacket", or if she would immediately rush to the children's department of her nearest store to find something similar. I really thought "sweater" would be pretty easy for her.

She asked me the same thing about when I was on the boat in the Galapagos, and I began to explain that the temperatures can be quite hot - in the 90s- and she would want to dress in her warm-weather clothing, such as bermuda shorts or light-fabric skirts/pants. Then she said "Well, what did YOU wear?" I tried to explain that we probably did not have the same items of clothing in our closets, and that she should bring clothing she was comfortable in, for the types of temperatures I had described to her.

She continued to ask what *I* wore. So I told her I wore tank tops and a sarong, to which she barked into the phone "A SARONG? What is a SARONG?" So I explained the large piece of fabric that you wrap around your waist, to which she said "Well, I don't HAVE one of those."

I can't imagine what her reaction would have been if I had told her that I actually spent most of the time on the boat in a bikini. This is why we send out the Recommended Packing List.

The Final Documents we send out usually include paperwork, and baseball hats with "Galapagos Islands" stitched on the front. I'm going to suggest replacing the hats with sarongs.