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Monday, January 09, 2006

 

Travel Tips

From World hum comes this clever list of travel hints from students who did a Semester at Sea program. I think there are some excellent ideas in here.

During our round-the-world journey in 2003, the Producer and I came up with some similar tips, though we entered some uncharted territory in our list. From an email we sent home from South Africa in the last two weeks of our 13 month trip:


*You can have a lot of fun once you stop worrying about getting sick, robbed, hurt, lost or dirty.

*All soap products -- including bar, shampoo and laundry detergent -- are interchangeable. Toothpaste does not fall into this category.

*Don't ever bother to learn the word for "why?" in the local language. In the unlikely event that you understand the words in the answer, you will still never, ever understand the logic, especially in the former Soviet Union.

*Act like the rest of the world and eat for nourishment, not for pleasure. Lower your expectations and you'll never be disappointed.

*Honey is the least transportable of all condiments.

*There are two types of hotels: those with cockroaches you can see and those with cockroaches you cannot see. The key to peaceful co-existence is boundaries. Accept cockroach activity on walls, but react with violence once it moves to the floor, or near the bed.

*If you see no local chickens, don't eat chicken, or eggs. Same goes for pigs and pork products.

*Never board a vehicle for long distance, remote travel that cannot be repaired with a hammer, strips of inner tube and sand. This includes about everything built after 1985.

*A pair of socks, even underwear, can be worn more than once.

*Never write your real occupation on a visa application. That said, sullen passport control officers do not appreciate whimsical answers such as "pet psychic" or "shepherd."

*When in Ethiopia, clear your plate. Every time.

*Abandon all preconceptions about the structure and content of toilet facilities.

*Ciproflaxin cures everything. Corollary: Self-medication is not that hard.

*Swimming or showering in your clothes counts as washing them. In some countries, so does walking in the rain.

*Outside of western countries, human life has very little value, mostly due to oversupply. This philosophy is reflected in the driving habits of bus and taxi drivers. Accept --nay, embrace -- the risk.

*Always sample the local intoxicant.

*Dogs can be racist.

*When a riverside street vendor offers you a bowl of tasty-looking noodles, shut off peripheral thought. Think, "my, those noodles look tasty. I think I'll have some." Do not think, "where does she wash her dishes?"

*Before boarding any form of public transport, double and triple check its destination with at least one woman. If no woman is available, ask a small child. If no small child is available, ask any sentient being, including sheep, before relying on a male.

*If if feels like there's an insect in your pants or shirt, there probably is. React accordingly.

*Travelers checks are a costly anachronism. In any country where they're cheap and convenient to cash, there's an ATM on every corner. Any national bank that cannot create a system of functioning ATMs will not cash a travellers check without an enormous, time-consuming fuss that may result in someone being physically removed from the bank. Leave home without them.

*Never make decisions about onward travel after bus rides in excess of 12 hours.

*When on foot or bicycle in Africa, even giraffes are scary.

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