The following list was emailed to me yesterday by one of my oldest friends, seasoned traveller Nadine Collins, and she very kindly agreed to let me share this astounding list here. A couple of these stories I’d heard already, which I’m glad about, because otherwise I’d never have believed they were all true.
Nadine Collins in Vietnam
Okay, here it is. A list of 10 things I’ve learned traveling.
No regrets, just valuable lessons learned and a lot of fun and stories on the way. Hope it doesn’t traumatize you too much!
1. Get excited!
Acting all nonchalant about your trip…bad move. Go hyper! Talk about it. Update the countdown daily on Facebook. Jump around. Woohoo! You’re on holiday! It gets all your nervous energy out so you don’t get stomach pains so bad you faint on the toilet in the middle of the night before your first overseas trip.
2. Nut allergies are serious.
If someone really annoying sits next to you on a plane and asks if the pudding has nuts, tell them yes. Just because it doesn’t have any visible nuts, doesn’t mean there aren’t some in there. If someone seriously allergic to nuts is dumb enough to risk possibly eating some at the beginning of a 7 hour flight, helping out the gene pool isn’t the best choice. Although you do get an empty seat besides you when they are taken away in a bag.
3. Free alcohol is not as great as it first seems.
It could be you taken away in a bag if you drink too much alcohol on the plane. Trying to beat Boony’s record from Melbourne to London, substituting red wine for beer, will end up being the scariest day of your life. You get a DVT, the plane dumps $200,000 worth of fuel to emergency land in a India, to drop you off at a 50’s horror film set hospital, in which you are made to sign over your organs for transplants if required during your stay. Whole other story! *
4. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!
Use a broad Aussie accent and beaming smile to charm the locals. Works in a similar way to ‘How to Hypnotize a Chook’, Vampires on True Blood, or Crocodile Dundee flooring the buffalo. You can get yourself a local tour guide and see all the cool stuff not in Lonely Planet.
5. Let the child come out to play.
Travelling transforms you into a young child, full of awe, anticipation and excitement for everything new. You have so much more enthusiasm and appreciation for life. Child’s eyes see beauty in things usually overlooked. Different power poles, unusual light switches, toilets, supermarkets with a million new items to try! Hold on to this when you get home. Share it with your friends. Bottle it for your fountain of youth!
6. Make friends with your foes
If you find yourself alone under a Los Angeles bridge late at night, waiting for a bus which is heading into a town so dangerous the bus driver will only drop you off on the outskirts after 5pm, leaving you to walk 2 km to your accommodation, have no fear. If you are truly pleased to meet the would be mugger-rapist, because you are so starved of conversation, he will be shocked into a ‘wow, your the first Australian I’ve met! Why weren’t you scared I was going to rape and kill you’ conversation. And my, ‘wow! You’re the first Mexican I’ve met. Tell me about how you live illegally in USA and how you are coping without your family.’ conversation.
And when someone in the doorway of a boarded up shop on the main street of the scary town ask you for $1, put away the pocket knife that you have been holding ready to attack any muggers. Get the thick wad of money out of your pocket and flick through all the hundreds and fifties, until you find a $1 note. The total bewilderment you create from your naivety shocks them into letting you keep the rest of your money and live to tell the story.
And when you are kidnapped… Nah too much for a first time traveller… But be friendly, don’t let on you are scared, keep your wits about you, you are smart and will know not to swallow the alcohol they are feeding you. Discretely tip or spit it out. They get so drunk they pass out and you can drive yourself 1hour back to your Turkish hotel with the black belted karate expert, who traps young girls into a life of prostitution and drugs, unconscious on the back seat of their car. But leave him and the car nowhere near your hotel of course. Maybe I should have taken his photo and that story to the police…
7. Take photos of people
You can always get a photo of a famous landmark from Google. You will see them on TV and magazines and have constant reminders of your visit. But memories of the people who have opened your mind to their world and made your trip fantastic will fade without a photo. The photos will also come in handy if they do end up kidnapping or robbing you!
8. The more you see, the more you’ll realize there is to see. If you know where you want to go, prioritize. Things will come up and you’ll run out of time to see everything. On the other hand, having no expectations can be awesome! A real mystery tour!
9. Enjoy every minute…even bad ones are an experience. But remember to take time to relax. Surprisingly, a 6 hr sleep will not be as refreshing as you expect after 5 nights of 2hrs sleep.
10. And lastly, to finish on a positive note…Things can always get worse!
From this perspective, you are grateful for the good in your current situation. You appreciate your blessings. There is always something to be thankful for in the worst situation. After all, things could always be MUCH worse. You could be travelling with me!
* my web diary of ‘old lady crappy daks bung leg duck lip bad sandwich chokes on the plane’s side trip to India.’