A few days ago, I saw a “10 Travel Rules to Live By” list on Huffington Post. Or to be fair to the author’s original headline, “10 Principles to Make Your Travel Memorable.”
I don’t recommend reading it. It’s full of the usual generic gooey travel advice – you know, embrace, awe, interact, hippie blah blah. There is nothing original in this list. Reading it gave me just one “a-ha” moment: that travelers tell other people how to travel way too much. That’s a steaming load of fly-covered assumption, and we all need to knock it off.
But we all like travel advice, right? OK. I can do that. I’m going to tell you a few things about how I travel. Accept or ignore as it applies to you. And have fun however you roll, even if it’s completely counter to what I write. Let’s go:
I roll at my own speed
If the Huffington Post bit is anything to go by, I travel all sorts of wrong (Sloooow it down, it says). I rarely spend three days in any one place. I like the physical challenge, planning the logistics, hopping flights and whizzing around on a high-speed rail line – obviously not in the United States. You may vary. And that’s OK. Stick your toes in the sand, walk everywhere you go, get to know all the locals by name. If it’s what you like, it’s the right way to travel.
I seek no deep meaning – just a good time
I once met a couple that gave me attitude about going to Australia. They’d just been to Thailand, and told me they don’t travel anywhere that English is the official language. I asked how much Thai they learned. They looked uncomfortable … and admitted they only spoke English during their trip. To me, they try to turn travel into a intellectual statement that they try to wield like a blunt instrument. They want travel to make them feel superior and intelligent. And look, it’d be a lie if I said my travel experiences don’t make me feel a step ahead of non-travelers. But that’s not the point: I want to have fun, and let the socio-political-artistic-intellectual observations come unbidden, not according to what I expect.
I never talk about a “bucket list”
God, I hate this phrase so much. Aside from its crap movie origins, I hate it because: It turns travel into a checklist; and it focuses on running against the clock. Instead of a “bucket list,” I keep a mental “up next” list. It becomes a Hunger Games roster of destinations competing each other to be my next adventure. Losers get recycled into the next list. I like that approach a lot better.
I eat everything in sight
Some of my best stories come from eating strange stuff – rotten shark meat, boiled silkworm larvae, camel schnitzel, possum pie … the list goes on. Locals always love it when I dive face-first into their food (nobody likes persnickety tourists who won’t try anything odd). The actual taste isn’t the point – it’s all about the experience. Though sometimes, I taste some pretty delicious bits from my “eat all that is edible” policy.
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