At Country Walkers, we know it takes time to organize a group of people for one of our walking adventures, and we’re always looking for ways to make it easier to get folks on board. With a hot new AI phenomenon lighting up the headlines, we thought: maybe ChatGPT can help? Country Walkers editors decided to put the chatbot to the test—asking it to respond to the prompt: “My family of 20 people (ages 20-80) wants to do a walking tour. Some of us are interested in wine, others are interested in art and others in wildlife ecology. How can we pick a destination everyone will enjoy?” After taking a minute to process our request, ChatGPT provided a coherent bullet list:
- Brainstorm destinations
- Research attractions
- Check the difficulty level of walking tours
- Look for family-friendly activities
- Consider accommodations and dining options
- Get feedback from everyone
It also mentioned specific destinations: including England’s Cotswolds and Italy’s Tuscany.
OK, we thought. Good job, ChatGPT. You hit the highlights.
For Those Who Just Love the Food Back Home (and Only the Food Back Home)
Let’s kick it up a notch. What about appealing to the person with very limited culinary tastes? For example, maybe there’s someone in your family who can’t imagine going a day without bagels. To fit the bill, ChatGPT graciously provided this charming little paragraph:
“France is a country rich in history, culture, and cuisine. While there may not be bagels on every corner, there are plenty of other delicious breads and pastries to try, like croissants, pain au chocolat, and brioche. Plus, did you know that France is home to some incredible museums with fascinating artwork that celebrates the humble bagel? The Louvre Museum, for example, has a collection of still-life paintings that feature bagels as the subject matter. The Musée d’Orsay also has some beautiful paintings that feature bagels as a symbol of the Jewish culture that has been part of France for centuries.”
Hmmm… bagel paintings hanging in the Louvre? I mean, we don’t want to accuse the chatbot of deliberate mendacity, but a quick google search of bagels in the Louvre returned only the café’s breakfast menu. ChatGPT did go on to remind us:
“But France is not only about bagel-related artwork… Who knows, maybe you’ll even find a favorite pastry that will make you forget about bagels for a little while.”
Not sure how that would go over with the bagel-lovers in your life… but we gave the chatbot another opportunity. This time, we asked it to convince a dedicated root beer afficionado to join our group vacation in Europe:
“We know that traveling can be overwhelming and the thought of trying new foods can be scary, but we’re writing to convince you to join us on our family vacation. We promise that there are plenty of options for you to enjoy your favorite drink, root beer, and we’ve even found some amazing artisanal locations we know you’ll love.”
Most American root beer brands are entirely unavailable in Europe, so unless you bring your own, any promises of root beer quaffing across the pond are largely erroneous. Imagine the indignant root beer-less fury of a dedicated aficionado promised the genuine article in Europe—instead finding themselves forced to resort to the tender ministrations of orange Fanta. Thanks, but no thanks, ChatGPT.
For Folks Who Hate Leaving Their Pets Behind
We know there are those family members and friends who have close bonds with their pets—and it can be challenging to convince them to leave their beloved fur-babies behind. ChatGPT obligingly provided us with a cheerful letter to make the case:
“We know how much you love your cats, and we understand that it’s hard to leave them behind, but we promise that they will be well taken care of while you’re gone. In fact, leaving your cats for a short period of time may actually be good for them. They will get a chance to play without your constant supervision, and they may even learn new skills or behaviors that they can share with you when you return.”
While ChatGPT’s feline anthropomorphization is characteristic of many pet owners, it’s hard to imagine anyone being convinced that the cats might be better off without them. Another swing and miss for the chatbot.
The Cajoling of Teenagers
It’s not always easy to convince teenagers to spend time with the family—much less to spend time engaging in healthy exercise with the family. We asked ChatGPT to write a letter to a teenage nephew who thinks Italy’s Vatican museums sound rather dull:
“We know that you’re not excited about the idea of visiting the Vatican Museums, but we wanted to let you in on a little secret: these museums are actually really weird and have some pretty unusual and unique things on display that are sure to impress your teenage Goth friends. For starters, the Vatican Museums are home to a collection of mummified remains of various Popes…”
OK, mummies are cool, right? ChatGPT goes on to say:
“Finally, there’s the infamous statue known as the “Stanze of the Infante” which was carved by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the 17th century. The statue depicts a demon pulling the skin off a man’s face, which is pretty gothic and creepy.”
Whoa! That escalated quickly. However, after spending some time searching the internet for this demonic Bernini, the source of ChatGPT’s sinister statue remains obscure.
Taking a more whimsical tactic, we sought to appeal to the younger generation’s interest in cryptozoology—resulting in this rather fantastical gem:
“First, let’s talk about unicorns. While we couldn’t find any actual unicorns in Europe (they are, after all, mythical creatures), there are plenty of places that celebrate them. In Scotland, you can visit the famed Unicorn Tapestries at Stirling Castle, which depict the hunt and capture of a unicorn. You can also visit the National Museum of Scotland, which has a display of unicorn horns and hooves.”
Wait, what? How can this museum possibly have a display of unicorn horns and hooves—after we just learned unicorns are mythical creatures. Falling down on your logic here, ChatGPT. And the punctuation! Don’t even get me started.
People with Other Activities on Their Mind
We all have that one family member who is so caught up in their favorite hobby that it’s virtually impossible to tempt them away from it for a weekend—much less a trip to Europe. We asked ChatGPT to write a letter convincing a relative to take a break from fly fishing to join a family walking tour of Portugal:
“I understand that you enjoy fly fishing and would like to stay home to pursue your hobby, but I want to let you know that Portugal offers plenty of opportunities for you to indulge your love for fish, even without a fishing rod. Portugal is known for its beautiful rivers and streams, many of which are home to a variety of fish species. We’ll have plenty of opportunities to explore these waterways and see the fish swimming and leaping in the clear water. Imagine watching trout jumping out of the water to catch flies, or observing schools of sardines swimming in the ocean.”
ChatGPT has a talent for giving these relatives the raspberry! We’ll take you away from your favorite fly fishing spot so you can watch a bunch of fish you can’t catch. Nice job selling it, ChatGPT.
Our conclusion—there’s no substitute for the personal touch. If writing letters isn’t your thing, just pick up the phone, drop a text, or plan a dinner out with friends. Afterall, a group walking adventure is all about making connections—leaving the chatbots at home to gather dust.
Interested in gathering your friends and family on a group vacation? You don’t need to rely on robots for help. Reach out to our dedicated Group Travel team and start planning today!