For me, flying is surrender. For you it may not be. But if you expect things to go as planned and insist on thinking you know everything happening at the other end of your flight,.. well,…that’s pretty unrealistic, but that’s your choice (probably because you’re a dreamer, or you’re OCD. Which is fine, but not fun (I know. Trust me, I know)).
Personally, when I fly, I put my hands in the air, I shrug and I prepare to take in whatever may come. I ca-pi-tu-late.
First comes surrendering to the process. To the last-minute packing, the expensive airport rides, the long security lines and the rolling-of-the-eyes when I have too much jewelry to take off. The prospect of radiation killing me a few years too soon. The prospect of terrorists taking down the plane and killing me many years too soon. The prospect of the plane falling down all on its own and, of course, killing me way too soon. The prospect of aaaaaall the global warming I’m causing for all the traveling I do. The nasty attendants, the too-narrow-for-my-long-legs rows, the kids screaming, the bad food I now need to pay for, the fat guy behind me dislodging my kidneys every time he moves. Everything that would make me howl in the real world, I humbly accept if it involves flying.
Then comes surrendering to the destination. Travelling makes me stupidly excited, cooing over a healthy poop (those of you who’ve been to the tropics know what I’m talking about) and happy with gnarly snail soups for lunch. Artificial? Maybe. But everything I’m so eager to take in does not get permanently stored in my poor brain, occupying grey matter with details equally unimportant and hard to remember. Nonono. Some things get discarded quicker than a bad photo. But because quantity does guarantee some level of quality, when all is over I usually have enough to filter through to make for a complete, real, informative story that does justice to the places I’m trying to describe. And that, THAT is what I’m interested in.
Here’s the top 10 things I’ve learned in my states of surrender:
1. Make sure you pack salt, nuts and coffee/tea. The local ingredients may not be what you’re used to.
2. Consider vacation rentals instead of hotels. They’re more personal, less expensive, come in a variety of sizes and many can provide a full board if you request it. (a few good options: craigslist.com, airbnb.com, homeaway.com, vrbo.com, perfectplaces.com).
3. If someone is inviting you over or sharing their food with you, ACCEPT IT. Worry about diarrhea later.
4. Respect the local customs, and people will welcome you (you know the “when in Rome, do what the Romans do”? Well, apply it- even when it’s not Rome, and what the locals do is not exactly inside your comfort zone. Don’t get too loud in Japan. Don’t take pictures of people who think photos steal their soul. Don’t wear Daisy Dukes in muslim countries. I know you’re a tourist, that you’re hot, that this is your vacation and you want to be free to enjoy it. But that spoiled brat attitude will truly keep you far from the real. Your choice).
5. Haggle. But remember that the best price is about what you’re happy to pay- NOT about the intrinsic value.
6. Always, ALWAYS go spend some time in a local marketplace (I said marketplace, yes? NOT mall).
7. Art is not only about exhibitions, museums, or ruins. Keep an eye out for graffiti, local dance halls, flea market finds, carnivals and fairs, functional decor, architecture.
8. Bring back aromas, spices, and recipes. They take little space, they’re cheap to buy, make for great gifts and they’re the fastest to bring back memories (must be the brain smell-memory centers connection. And they last pretty long, too). Plus, there’s nothing like food to illustrate a story to those who want to hear it.
9. Try to eat and drink what the locals eat and drink (if you don’t like it or stomach it well, then move on to the upscale local products made for tourists. DO NOT consume, or look for, the same brands as home. Please. It defeats the purpose.)
10. Traveling is a privilege, so don’t take it for granted. However random the location, if you have a way to get there, GO.
(You can now follow me on Bloglovin, too.)