Ask Miriam | Upcoming Visit Itinerary Creates Concerns


Dear Miriam,

A couple I know from college let me know a few months ago that they were planning a trip to Philly. I knew they were coming and was waiting for exact dates before planning our visit, but I’ve been excited to show them around to some of my favorite local spots.

I just got an email from them with a detailed itinerary for their entire time here. What they’ve planned is fine, but I feel like I’m missing out on getting to play tour guide. Should I leave it alone or try to get them to amend their schedule?


Overscheduled Visit


Dear Overscheduled,

Some of your response is logistical, and some of it is emotional. You’ll do best to separate those two aspects of the situation rather than trying to tackle all your reactions at once. There’s also no perfect solution, so your goal should be to maximize the fun you can have with these old friends while minimizing any unpleasantness.

First, the logistics: You had activities in mind, and your friends either didn’t know or didn’t care. As a result, your weekend isn’t shaping up the way you had hoped. I suggest emailing the friends back, commenting on how impressed you are with their Philly research and then asking where there may be flexibility in the schedule for some local flavor you wanted to share. They sound like detail-oriented people, so listing addresses of restaurants or times of concerts will probably help make your suggestions concrete to them. If they are into your ideas, great. If not, feel free not to join in every aspect of someone else’s vacation.

Now for the emotional: You wanted to plan a visit. You had ideas. You imagined an ongoing email chain with old friends about all the exciting possibilities. Now all of that has been taken away and replaced by an uninspiring itinerary that totally lacks your stamp of creativity. It’s fine to mourn that idea, but be sure not to take it out on your friends. Plan your dream itinerary and share it with someone else, or take a local friend to one of the places you’d hoped they’d get to see.

Where these aspects come together is around whether you want to spend this time with people you haven’t seen in a while doing the activities that they’ve prioritized. You’re under no obligation to go along with all of it, and you’re not a bad host for bowing out of the parts that may not appeal to you. On the other hand, you can do Philly your way whenever you want, so it may be a lovely experience to spend time with these friends on their terms before going back to your separate lives.

The biggest questions to me are whether these friends planned the trip in this way to try to take some burden off if you, or whether there may new an implicit message about how much time they actually anticipate being with you while they’re in town. Clarifying everyone’s priorities before they arrive should make the visit smoother and more manageable, with fewer surprises for all of you.

Be well,



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