If you’ve ever said something along the lines of, “If I have to go to that damn aquarium one more time…” you might be suffering from Tour Guide Burnout. Don’t bother WebMD-ing it. It’s not a legit medical problem, but when you have a revolving door of family visitors all hoping to experience the attractions around your base, it can produce alarming side effects, like misdirected rage against BoBo the Dolphin at the aquarium or loss of appetite when you’re seated at your once-favorite restaurant.
Tour Guide Burnout (let’s call it TGB because it’s military-related, so it deserves an acronym) occurs when you are stationed anywhere near a desirable attraction (like the beach, Disneyland, the White House, or Europe). And, yes, you too count as a desirable attraction (as far as your mom is concerned). Your kids are likely the top-grossing attraction in town as far as any blood-relative is concerned — so cute and growing up too fast! So, basically, it doesn’t matter where the military sends you. People will come. People will come, and they will want to eventually leave your house and see all the things that you’ve already seen.
When you’ve done the local tour circuit a couple of times, it gets mundane. You want your guests to get the full local experience, but there’s no reason you have bore yourself to death in the process. When you find out you have a year packed with family visitors, you need a game plan. Otherwise, you can kiss your own travel bucket list goodbye because you’re hanging with BoBo on the daily at the aquarium. Here’s said game plan.
Cut to the Chase
As soon as family visitors make their reservations at Casa de You, make note of the length of their stay (so you know how many activities to plan) and what they really want to do (so you know what to plan). Not everything is for everyone. If the local specialty is seafood, and your cousin has a fishy-induced gag reflex, take a hard pass on the local culinary legend. If your dad is super outdoorsy, take him on a hike instead of taking him souvenir shopping.
Avoiding TGB takes some good old-fashioned planning on your part. Luckily, you’re a military spouse and you could write a book on planning. If you know you have three rounds of family visitors this summer, deal out the activities to each party — you get the aquarium, you get the shopping day trip, you get a beach day.
Once you know dates, you can also look for upcoming concerts, plays, local festivals, races, sporting events, and expos that might appeal to your guests — they might even influence travel dates!
If you’re the YOLO type, chances are you dove right into local experiences as soon as you finished unpacking, but there is something to be said for not checking off every must-do near you. Save a few activities for when company comes. If you end up not getting to it with them, you can always go on your own when you’re itching for something new to do.
See It From Another Angle
Inevitably, you will have to guide visitors through the local sites more than once, but there are ways to keep it interesting.
- Change up the timing. Instead of spending an entire day at the zoo, stop in for an hour and move on. Or, better yet, see if your zoo opens at night on a certain day and check that out. Likewise, instead of always taking everyone to lunch at your favorite spot, show up for breakfast instead and order something new.
- Get a different experience. Instead of giving the walking tour of downtown, give your legs and angelic vocal chords a day off. Take a Segway tour, bus tour, or boat tour. Look for a specialized way to see your town that your guest would enjoy, like a ghost tour or pub crawl. Stick around for the special performances at the aquarium instead of ducking out early because you just know your toddler is about to get hangry (just be sure to pack some snacks).
Suck It Up
Let’s make it rain perspective for a minute. Even if you give the same three-day tour 100 times, you’re doing it for the people who love you enough to travel to places often in the middle of nowhere, on the way to nothing. You won’t be giving that tour forever — just for a couple years, then you retire it and move on. Embrace the monotony and enjoy time with your family while you can. It may just be the only time you get to experience that place with that person.
Photo Credits: Eastern Sky Photography NC