Tuesday, February 3, 2009

About Traveling

I’ve been thinking a lot about traveling lately, in preparation for my upcoming adventure. I’ve now been on four overseas trips—not a record by any means, but most people I meet seem to think that’s a lot (people of my own generation, a little less so). Each trip is a learning experience of course, regarding the area’s customs, landscape, history, and general feeling. But I also seem to learn a little more about travel itself with each new adventure. So here are some things I’ve learned about traveling, some new rules I have come to follow.

Full disclosure: most of these were discovered in cahoots (love that word!) with my co-adventurers Jaima and Gordon.

1. Always know how to say “thank you” wherever you are, even if it is the only word you know. This will earn you smiles from the locals (priceless!) and brighten your day, too.

2. It’s okay to eat dinner in your room every now and then. We had some wonderful restaurant meals in Japan, but some of our favorite food memories from the trip are the dinner sets we bought at the local 7-11 and took home to the guesthouse to eat. This kind of meal is just as ‘authentic’ as something you would buy at a fancy restaurant or from street vendor. It saves money, time, and energy too.

3. Upon arriving at your far-flung destination, I have found it is well worth the money to splurge on a taxi to the hotel rather than brave the local transit system. There is plenty of time to explore your transit options later when you are rested from the flight and more alert. You will feel a lot better about the new place if you don’t spend your first full hour there lugging your suitcase up and down flights of subway stairs and then around several city blocks searching for your hotel.

4. Go to the tourist office. I know, I know. You are protesting, “but that’s so tourist-y!” It is touristy. But the people who work in the tourist office really know what they are talking about. They know the city better than you do, better than your friend does, better than the guidebook does. They can tell you the best ways to get around, the best sights to see. Plus, they will give you free city maps and transit maps. It’s one moment of touristyness (not a word) that you won’t regret.

What about you, dear mysterious readers? What are your own travel dos and don’ts?


Jillian said...

Hmmm...wake up call. I have no readers. Mysterious or otherwise.

Jaima said...

Well, I recommend detailed, fully researched, color-coded itineraries but I get laughed at a lot for those (although after someone has traveled with me and my itineraries they usually become a believer). :)

To one friendly Hungarian I will forever be known as “The Busy Girl” after he caught sight of my…full… itinerary. But hey! We saw everything we came to see, right!? :)

And John and Leah have informed me they have taken to doing "JaimaPlanningSessions" as their time in NZ comes to an end and they want to get every last thing in. So my obsessive planning can’t be all bad if experienced world travelers like John and Leah a are doing it, right? :)

Jillian said...

I, for one, love your itineraries. The best part is how thorough you are at mapping everything out. So if there is some secondary thing that you weren't all that interested in seeing about one block from something cool, it's all down in the itinerary so you can go check it out if you have time. Very cool.

Herbal Amanda said...

Sorry for being late to the game...

Always bring an extra set of shoes even if you think you wont use them. Sometimes the extra pair are the better choice on a day to day basis (sandals seem to take precedence over the walking shoes almost every trip I take)

Troy said...

I have actually been dying to comment on this post since the day it was posted. Seriously. The only problem is...I've never really traveled.

Here are my tips for if I WAS a traveler:

Do's: Do leave your kids with the grandparents (if you have them).

Don'ts: Do not take your kids with you (if you have them).

Anonymous said...

OMYGosh! How I love to read Troy's comments! They are so. . .Troy!They always make me smile! Blessings, Troy!
And, Jil, one of these times, I will go with you and Jaima, seasoned travelers, and Caitlin too, to some far-off place!
love, mom

Jillian said...

Troy, you are very wise.