Ten Lessons from My Travels
- Research the culture you are about to enter. If you’re going to a Muslim country, dress conservatively. If you’re in Spain don’t expect the shops to be open in the afternoon. If you’re in Buenos Aires and want to eat at 9:00 pm understand that you will be the only one in the dining room.
- No matter what country you plan on visiting, learn a few simple sentences in their language to show that you’re not an ugly American. My go to phrase is, “Hello, my (French, German, Arabic, whatever) is not very good, but if you speak slowly I will try to understand.” You’d be surprised at the positive reaction that your little bit of effort creates. Since I’m so bad at languages the reply I get most often is, “That is very sweet but let’s speak English.”
- My best experiences always seem to happen when something goes awry. Recounting your visit to the Vatican is great if you have visual aides. But getting lost and stumbling upon a hidden little place (restaurant, shop, bakery, museum, just fill in the blank) is an adventure that makes for a unique peek into daily life of the place you’re visiting plus a wonderful story.
- Don’t be afraid to go to lesser known towns or areas. Last year I traveled to Puglia, Italy. It was a totally different Italy than I had experienced before. The Adriatic Sea towns are a beautiful mixture of Greece and Italy. I would have never known if I kept to the guidebook’s top ten list.
- Don’t be afraid to use sign language or pantomime when you can’t find what you want. While I was in the south of France I would go to the farmers market and mimic French facial expressions and fake my way as a local—it worked. In Denmark I didn’t know the word for lamb so I blurted out “baa” to the butcher and was pointed in the right direction. I have no shame, neither should you!
- Churches and monuments are wonderful but sometimes it’s great to just sit, people watch and drink in the place. Take that well-earned pause.
- Travel in the off-season so you experience the rhythm of a place. Paris filled with tourists in the summer is a different city than Paris in April or October. Plus the lines at the Louvre are shorter.
- If you’re planning on visiting a huge historic attraction like the Vatican, the Alhambra or the Louvre make your reservations for the afternoon. The crowds thin out, this is when the cruise ship tourists return to the ship.
- Walk, walk, and walk some more. It’s the very best way to discover a new city. And in order to do so comfortably, spring for some good walking shoes.
- It’s your vacation. Enjoy it the way YOU want to. There is no right or wrong way to travel. There’s only YOUR way.
Laura Ilardi says
One of your best blogs! Loved reading it.
Thanks so much. I’m going to be posting a bunch more travel items. Thanks so much for your support.
Cathy | She Paused 4 Thought says
Amen and amen. Words of wisdom for every traveler. I so enjoy your adventures and I can’t wait for your next one…where ever that may be.
I take this as a MAJOR compliment coming from a world traveler like you.
Kelly at Tasting Page says
You said it sista. Very good rules to travel by!
Oh, I couldn’t agree more. This is exactly how we travel; off the beaten path and going with the flow. I won’t bore you with examples but our most memorable travel experiences have come as a result of doing exactly as you describe. Except in Asia. I like having my hand held there!!!
Thanks so much for stopping by and reading.
You and I would travel well together my friend! GREG