How to handle another alpha planner

I just made that phrase up. But seriously, how do you cope on a multi-family vacation when there is another alpha planner, especially when they don’t have more knowledge than you but keep asserting themselves and turning plans upside down? I am going nuts. My TA definitely thinks I am.



I think you will need to agree not to do everything together. Talk to them now and come to an understanding now or risk some very hard feelings.


My DD and are both alpha planners but we defer to each other and respect each other’s opinions and Disney expertise. Now, my DH is another story… he keeps inserting himself incorrectly and I’m done fighting. My catch phrase, “I told you so” It’s not nice but he won’t listen to us so we let him screw up and suffer :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:


What @PrincipalTinker said is MUCH better advice :laughing:


Well the problem is that we are trying to plan the foundation of the trip right now, and we want adjoining rooms and the same dates, and that stuff has to be done jointly. But yes, generally the process has been difficult. Disparate budgets (we are on one, they aren’t)… it kinda started there. Super nice people but my MIL and i are apparently rather alike :smiley:

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Adjoining, but not connecting right? :wink:

If you’re on different budgets it may make it difficult to agree on even these basics.

Could you agree to independently plan, but keep one another informed of the plans at important checkpoints? That way you can meet up and spend time when it makes sense and works, but not feel obligated to 100% of the time. Maybe pick 3-4 key activities you agree you’ll do together - a meal (outside of a park, perhaps, so you don’t even have to agree on park ressies), an extra (that will require more coordination).

When is this trip? If this early planning is starting off rocky, maybe these aren’t the people you’re meant to travel with. And that’s okay! I can think of people I would never want to travel with, much as I love them.


I’m gonna’ get myself in so much trouble here. The other day, at USO, DH kept calling the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and I said the Aerosmith ride at HS? He said, no, “It’s at Universal.” :zipper_mouth_face: DS stepped into clarify :rofl: :joy: :rofl:


Sometimes, as a way to soften people up, ask them for help. If you allow yourself to be vulnerable they will too. I know you don’t necessarily need this person’s help, but act like you do on a few things.


I see the budget as a big thing. I’d make a list of what hotels you can afford and say that the list is limited to these. As a liner I’d also put that into an excel file in order of preference putting my true preference not first. Then I’d add pros and cons to each. I’d send her the file which would be educating her about the hotels as a side benefit.


I am going to share here.

I had a trip in 2007 where I arrived at a resort and a family member had moved my room (against my requested area) to be adjoining their room.

That was the beginning and ended with a major meltdown in the middle of Tomorrowland (the family member, not my group). The family member became very angry when everyone did not want to do what they wanted.

Since limits were not set I don’t think that person ever understood why everyone else felt the way they did. That person’s behavior on that day impacted family relationships for much longer than the trip, or the memories of that trip.

Any of us could be any of these roles in this story. Be honest and set limits now.


I think the budgetary differences are where things will get difficult if the two groups insist on being one group.

I think OP should stay where they prefer and can afford, and the other group should too. And they should crossover plans from there. It would mean no pool days together, but maybe they could do a waterpark day as an alternative.


My parents had friends they would travel with where budget differences (not necessarily even who had the money but how each preferred to spend their money) came up and could be tough, though they loved traveling with these friends. They found all inclusive plans moved all those decisions to the planning phase and took them out of the daily trip itself, so enjoyed themselves a lot when that friction was removed from the trip.

Maybe a price fixe meal or water park ticket or something like that? Choose where you want to spend your money with them ahead of time (when you agree with the spending and would enjoy it) and remove the constant budget negotiations? I’ve been on both sides of budget stuff like this and it’s no fun on either side to feel you’re spending where you don’t want or getting the vacation you don’t want.

On my first travel with my now husband I was the one on a strict budget. We each paid our own way but alternated crap hotels with cleaner nicer hotels (in a country where even that wasn’t too expensive). He was a sport about the cockroaches in one of my choices — but also he knew his choice was coming up next. :joy:

Overall I do agree with OB Nurse that some people are travel friends and some people are friends outside of travel. Personally I don’t want to tie my family’s plans to anyone else much because we don’t get away often and I do all that constant negotiating in my real everyday life with other families. We’ll meet up for outings but not a whole week.

You do you though! It’s your family’s vacation, too.

PPS Rooms on the same floor is close enough for kids to go back and forth but far enough they can’t hear you talking about the day through the walls :wink:


So much this! Trying to plan 100% same vacations is always difficult. So much better to plan independently, and plan to meet for say, key meals, or an evening at EPCOT together, etc…


You’re both paying WAY too much money to be miserable.

You’re both paying WAY too much money to not do what you’d like to do.

You’re both paying WAY too much money to wind up holding grudges, and a rift in the family.

I’d lay ALL of my cards on the table, and allow them to fully understand where you are coming from, AND ALSO, allow them to tell you (and be FULLY open to) where they are coming from. You both might have some fantastic ideas together, and you might had some totally divergent ideas. That is life, and it shouldn’t be any type of struggle. Work together, be friendly and supportive of each other. Life is WAY too short. HAPPILY plan together, and HAPPILY understand that you are different ppl with different “wants,” and you might need to do different things.

If you won’t allow each other to know your ‘deals,’ - prepare for the fallout. The fallout might not be external. It might be resentment. Good luck!

Also, I’m just a dude on the internet drinking a cup pf coffee in a chair with a blanket on Sunday a.m. I’m no expert on ANYTHING, I just gave up on trying to please ppl more than I can a long time ago. I try to live MY life these days, and I wish I would’ve done it YEARS ago.


Its important to be honest and upfront way before the trip happens, especially when it comes to money/budget stuff.
I am definitely in a wayyyy different (lower) tax bracket than most of my friends (thanks healthcare profession) and I constantly have to be the “this doesn’t fit into my budget” downer person, but I never let it prevent them from doing what they want.
You may have to be upfront and compromise on this (like what @OBNurseNH discussed above).
Everyone has their own definition of their perfect trip, and shouldn’t be prevented from having it.

Plan on the things you want to do together, and plan for some time apart. It will probably be best for the both of you guys.


When there’s more than one planner (even if the other planner isn’t an “alpha”), if you want to do a joint trip some compromise is probably in order. You might consider having a chat with the other planner(s) and coming up with a plan on how you’re going to compromise. Does that sound weird? But seriously, there are so many ways to fit travel plans together.

  • Plan a 100% joint trip where you do everything the same way?
  • Plan mostly individual trips but get your groups together for key parts?
  • Plan mostly a joint trip but with key differences?
  • Is one person going to give their “musts” and have the other person plan out the details while fitting in those musts? (This is what I usually do with my MIL - she tells me what’s really important to her and I plan the rest. I usually run the final draft by MIL before booking things.) With the caveat that if the two groups “musts” conflict, then that’ll have to be worked out first. Ex. if your MIL’s musts exceed your budget but she wants to be 100% together on the trip.
  • Is one person going to make a draft plan with alternatives listed, and then all planners can meet and make final decisions together? (This is what I usually do with DH. We both do better when I make him a curated list.)
  • Are you going to take turns picking things?
  • Some amalgam of the above? Or something totally different, I’m sure this list isn’t all inclusive.

If everyone can agree about how you’re all going to plan the trip, hopefully it’ll lead to a smoother planning process. YMMV, but that’s what’s worked for me!


I’m wondering about your trip’s purpose. Sometimes we’ve gone to WDW to escape the real world. Sometimes it’s been to celebrate a special occasion. Or maybe to see specific decorations. A recurring theme tho is to make memories. Which smooths a lot of rough spots - “it’s not about you, it’s about the memories you’re making with your kids”, or whomever.

At least one trip had a theme - attractions most closely connected to Walt.

We have stayed at one resort (Riverside) while others have stayed elsewhere (Wilderness Lodge Villas). This worked mainly because of cell phones to facilitate coordinating.

Deciding on a theme or purpose may help you and your fellow planner decide on mutually appropriate resorts. Or that it’s occasionally ok to stay in separate resorts. It may help with meals and with planning attractions.

I’ve even had to resort to saying, I’ll be doing [this] next, y’all can join me or you’re welcome to do your own thing. But that’s more in the Parks.

I think if you can agree on hotel and dates, you have agreed on enough. I would plan your own days with a broad brush asap (I.e. what park on what day) and communicate that quickly so they can decide to join you or not . Everyone does Disney so different, some do rope drop everyday and head back to pool early afternoon, some do open to close, etc… communicate how you do Disney and then do it. At the very least, you will find each other at the hotel every day


I have done trips with friends. Specifically relevant here is Disney with bf and our fams.
BF and fams budget was Contemporary, mine was Pop. That is where each of us stayed. We planned park days different. She planned around ADRs, I planned around crowds. She had park hoppers we did not. We found where our common days or 1/2 days were and penciled in park time there. Out of 7 park days, we spent 4.5 together. We budgeted for 4 TS meals a day. BF does the deluxe dining and eats character meal breakfasts and TS dinners. We scheduled our 4 meals to coincide with the park days we would be with BFs fam. She picked 2, I picked 2. We both spent our mornings till about 11am doing things our children would be interested in but the others weren’t (her kids were very young, mine young teens). Then we met up, did a few things before lunch. Again, she picked 2 QS lunch spots, I picked 2. Did lunch, did more afternoon things together, ate dinner and 3 out of the 4 days parted ways after dinner to again do things that weren’t of interest to the other. It helped that we sat down and wrote lists of must dos, want to dos, fine to dos and will not dos. Then we found where we had commonality and planned those things together around dining plans.
The key was we didn’t try to make the other do things or spend money they had no business doing. We allowed each other space and respected each others time. Our trip was great not just because we got to do a lot together but also because we didn’t do things with the other we had no interest in.
I think you need to decided if everyone will be joined at the hip or if seperate times apart and together will be established. The first comes with misery FYI.
Then, planning will be easier.
Don’t do adjoining or connecting rooms. Remember, you can always come together if you’re room is farther away but you may not have a place to escape to if needed if your rooms are side by side.


I think this is great advice for some, but not necessarily for all. When we did a trip with my MIL and weren’t able to get rooms near each other we really regretted it and wished we were closer. We spent most of our time together and the kids hopped between rooms - sometimes they slept in Grandma’s room and sometimes they slept in ours. We found it really nice to be next to each other on our next trip. It just made logistics easier for us. We do annual trips to a national park where we share a house so we are used to vacationing together, so that might influence things a bit.