Responding to “So, How Was Your Trip?!”

You’ve just returned from your adventure.  You’re excited.  You’re full of life.  You’ve changed, seen new things, and have a million stories and pictures to tell about it.

Then someone you know, a friend, colleague, or relative, asks you “so, how was your trip?!”

And instantly you have a problem.  A problem because things person either falls into 1 of 3 categories:

  1. They’re asking out of politeness and really just want you to say, “good, thanks, how are you?!” Much like “how are you?” often is used more as a greeting than an actual question.
  2. They do want to know, but only have 1 minute and 30 seconds to listen.
  3. They really do mean it…they want to know!

These 3 persons pose 3 different types of responses.  And herein lies the problem.  Obviously the first person is just looking for “good”.  Tell them that.  Unless it was horrible.  In which case say “bad”, because ‘horrible’ is 2 syllables and they only have time for one.

The second person is tricky…what do you share?  how do you describe in such a short time?

The third person is even trickier…you want to share – but what?  and how?  and where to start? and which of your 3000 pictures will you get them to suffer through?

On the plane ride home, or in those first few minutes of jetlag recovery, you need to develop:  a 2 minute answer and a longer answer to the question “so, how was your trip?!”

For the 2 minute answer, start by thinking about the MOST important feeling you had leaving the trip.  Joy? Love? Discovery?  Even though your vacation will have had some inevitably negative components, in the 2 minute answer you don’t have time to cover everything.  So stick to this formula:

1 – state the major feeling you have about the trip: I loved it; I grew a lot; I loved the people; It’s such a fascinating part of the world.

2 – pick one story that provides an example to that feeling.  Someone you met.  A place you visited.  A favourite dinner.

That’s it!  Short.  Sweet.  But you get to say what was most important to you and share an anecdote to support it.  Your 2-minute questioner will be happy with your answer, understand a bit about a trip, and have a neat anecdote to tell others.  Go you!

Now what about the third person.  These are your spouse, parents, your best friend, the curious colleague…they really want to know.  And it’s so nice and so genuine.  But don’t make them suffer for this question either.  Make sure you’re prepared.  How?

1 – Think of what the trip really meant to you.  Unlike the 2-minute speech, this shouldn’t be preplanned.  Things will just flow.  But at least have had the time to think through what emotions and ideas and growth and thoughts that occurred so you can really talk through your trip.

2 – Reflect on the stories and memories that best capture your experiences.  At least for me, when someone genuinely wants to know, I start off telling one story but then realize I should be telling another…and by the end I’ve just rambled on for 20 minutes in some incoherent brain puzzle that even I can’t follow.  And my parents/spouse/best friend are sitting there lovingly.  But it isn’t fair to them PLUS I DO want to share with them about my trip.  Think through before your stories and experiences so that you have them fresh in your mind for when it’s time to share.

3 – Think about who your audience is.  If you’re speaking to someone who has been to the country/city/village where you travelled, there are things they already know.  You don’t need to “teach” them.  For these people, you can probably go into more detail.  Say things like “okay, do you remember the little tea shop on King Street.?  So there’s this restaurant beside it that I went to and…”  Let them be PART of your story.

4 – Go through your pictures before!  As much as they say that they do, no one wants to sit through 20 pictures of the SAME thing from a different angle because you have yet to edit your pictures before sharing.  Find the ones that mean the most to you, compile them, and THEN share your pictures!

5 – Finally, make sure you give this person the same audience they gave you!  It is wonderful to be able to share your experience upon returning.  Do them the same favour…and be that genuine listening ear!

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