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Sharing Travel Plans: Can It Help You?

Sharing Travel Plans: Can It Help You?

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    When I plan a trip, I make arrangements to meet up with people. I email anyone I know might be in area, announce my itinerary on Twitter and even add a trip to Dopplr. My efforts have paid off: I’ve met people I had already become fast friends with online in person. I’ve expanded the scope of projects by taking a few minutes away from my vacation to meet with a client. I’ve even managed to meet entirely new people by tagging along to meetups of various kinds. Sharing your travel plans can pay off.

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    Quick Payoffs

    Unless you’re planning a trip with the sole purpose of getting away from everything in your day-to-day life, I’m willing to argue that there’s a big payoff to sharing your travel plans. Right now, thousands of people are planning to converge on Austin, Texas for SXSW. Pretty much every social media site I’m active on is buzzing with what attendees are planning: some are making arrangements to share cab rides or even hotel rooms on the basis of shared travel plans. Others are making arrangements to finally meet people they’ve been talking to online for years. Still others are planning how to best take advantage of the fact that they’ll have a whole list of people they’ll want to talk to once they get to Austin.

    Sure, SXSW is at least partially about networking. But the same holds true even if you’re doing nothing more than taking a weekend getaway to the next state over. You don’t have to spend every hour of your trip with people, but think about the benefits of telling people you’ll be in town:

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    • You can connect with others in your field, maybe learning something that can come in handy when you get back to the office on Monday.
    • You can make a new connection with a company you’re hoping to work with — or for — in the future.
    • You can reconnect with old friends and see how they’re doing.
    • You can make some new friends and have some fun, rather than spending an evening in a hotel with a television for company.

    Share Your Plans

    Before you can take advantage of those connections that sharing your travel itinerary creates, you first have to actually share it. I’m a big fan of making mention of my plans on the sites that I most commonly frequent, such as Twitter. There are a few sites that actually specialize in sharing travel plans, though. Dopplr and TripIt are the two that I’ve seen most commonly used. Whether or not these sites are the best, the fact that they have quite a few members is crucial: the more people that are on a site, the more likely that you’ll be able to share your plans with someone you’re actually interested in seeing.

    TripIt can create an automatic itinerary for you if you forward the confirmation emails you receive for booking a hotel room or a flight. Dopplr allows you to enter your travel plans yourself. Either option can be good — although contacting people you know live in your intended destination can guarantee a better response when you ask to meet in person. It can also be worth checking out what’s actually going on in the area, through sites like Meetup, in order to find out if all the cool kids will be in one place on a particular date.

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    Privacy and Travel

    I remember my grandmother planning for a trip when I was a kid. She bought a timer for the lights in her living room, setting them to turn off and on as if she was home. She made arrangements for her newspaper and her mail to be held until she returned, so that neither a stack of papers on her porch nor an overflowing mailbox would give away the fact that she wasn’t home. My grandmother went to some lengths to make sure no one knew she was out of town until after her return.

    In contrast, I post my travel plans on Twitter, Facebook and even on Dopplr. I do take a few measures to keep my home safe when I’m out of town, but pretty much anyone who wants to discover where in the world I am can do so.

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    I know that one of my grandmother’s big concerns about whether people knew she was traveling focused on the fact that someone might be able to take advantage of her absence. Coming home to a break in was definitely a concern of hers. I’m not about to say that it wasn’t a valid concern, either. I lock up my place whenever I’m gone and I make arrangements for someone to keep an eye on it while I’m gone.

    But, for a long list of reasons, I don’t feel the need to take the same approach to protecting my privacy when I travel that my grandmother did. I think that there are some serious safety concerns that go along with broadcasting your whereabouts through any social media site and I don’t think that there are fewer reasons to be concerned about leaving your home empty. In part, I mitigate those facts by not sharing my home address with anywhere near the frequency that I share my personal location. Someone set on finding out where I live could do it, but not casually.

    There’s not a perfect solution if you have any interest in sharing your travel plans online, but many people seem comfortable taking those risks.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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