Saturday, April 14, 2012

20 Things Travel Has Taught Me

1. Most of the history that is taught in school are subjective, and the nationalistic and heroic rhetoric I'd learned in classrooms are NOT shared and are often disputed in many parts of the world. 

2. A backpacker who follows the Lonely Planet Guide and travels off-the-beaten path can just as easily be an “ugly tourist” as a Travel & Leisure reader who vegs out at 5-star hotels. And in all frankness, the locals prefer the 5-star traveler, as they contribute more to their economy.

3. Don’t cheap out when visiting an underdeveloped country and part of the world where people are in dire need of the your tourist dollars, Euros, Yen, etc. That doesn’t mean you have to be frivolous, but be generous when it comes to tipping or buying things that you know are worth 10 times what you paid for pay back at home.

4. The worst experiences make the best stories.

5. The majority of people around the world are welcoming. Many people in our home countries have unwarranted fears about places they’ve never been to and people they’ve never met, but the only way to really know is to go and experience it for yourself.

6. To truly understand a culture, you must speak the language ... or at least attempt to learn it.

7. People are not the same everywhere … and why should they be?!? The differences are what makes the world much more interesting.

8. Don’t cringe at the sight of Walmart or Starbucks, as most often, it’s the only place that will have what you need, esp. free wireless internet.

9. Restaurants that are listed in guidebooks, travel magazines, or uninspiring chef-turned-TV-personality's lists are usually highly mediocre, overpriced and almost always full of tourists.

10. If you want to eat like a local, go to a grocery store where most often you will find some of the tastiest read-made foods. Especially in larger more cosmopolitan cities in Asia, a department store or a mall will be the best and the easiest place to sample a wide variety of local dishes.

11. Eating the actual part of an animal, i.e. pig’s feet or lung, is a lot less gross than all the CRAP that goes into making a sausage or nicely packaged processed meats that they sell at our local grocery store.

12. Listen instead of waiting to talk, and having the last word is considered to be a bad manner in some countries.

13. Freedom of speech is not an entitlement just because we come from a country where it is.

14. Speak in short clear sentences, NOT louder.

15. Utilize free walking tours. It's the best way to meet locals.

16. Michael Jackson is HUGE … EVERYWHERE. A true testament to his King of Pop persona, he is recognized and revered almost everywhere I’ve traveled to, and if you’re out in a disco or a club, be prepared to dance to at least one of his songs.

17. Don’t dress half naked unless you’re at a beach resort … even then, wear an appropriate cover up unless you’re in a country where exposure is accepted. Even when traveling in a warm/hot climate, don’t assume that wearing tank tops and shorts are appropriate.

18. Don’t worry about being a tourist or looking like one. The whole discussion of “being a tourist versus a traveler” is contrived and banal, as we are not a member of the tribe and never will be. That's not an insult, simply a fact.

19. Being there doesn't make you special. How you handle yourself determines that.

20. I’ve been really fortunate to be able to travel and see the world as I have. Although I have traveled extensively and enjoyed seeing the world as a solo traveler, the best part of traveling is being able to share the experiences with people that you love, and it's been even more wonderful to be able to discover new  and share my favorite places with my husband and our little boy.

*More information on above photo


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