57 Things I've Learned from Traveling

57 Things I've Learned About Traveling

Posted Dec 08, 2009

I've learned this stuff from personal experience, observation, and from report. I'll let you guess which are which. :)

1. In Aruba, you are allowed to carry a lighter on the plane, but not scissors. This makes total sense.
2. What you are allowed to take in your carry-on differs from airport to airport. See #1.
3. The countries that you would think have the tightest airport security...don't.
4. You can walk around Scandinavia by yourself in broad daylight, and then realize it is 10pm. Their time.
5. Once you have lived in Florida, "cold" takes on a whole ‘nother meaning when you travel north.
6. Yes, I still have a right to visit tropical islands even if I do live in Florida. You have no idea how many times I have been told, "Why would you come here when you live in Florida?" Um, A) Each island is completely different from Florida. B) I love to travel. C) Why you are visiting Canada when you live in Michigan? It makes the same kind of sense. IT'S A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PLACE.
7. Bring two cameras - one that has a rechargeable batteries, and one that has chargeable batteries. Yes, one of them will die on you.
8. If you forget your phone/camera/whatever charger, check with the front desk of the hotel. They almost always have a matching one that was left behind by someone else. Think of it as Charger Karma.
9. ALWAYS do carry-on. I even did carry-on for my 10-day trip to Scandinavia. You can do it. It saves time, and now it even saves you money. And guess what? You *always* have your luggage when you get off the plane. Unless you forget it on the plane.
10. Water-resistant is not the same thing as waterproof. Very important.
11. When you are in another country, make an attempt to at least learn some of the language. There is no rule that says that they *must* speak English. Even if they know it.
12. In some countries, their English is better than yours.
13. We seem to be the only country that does not have a standardized practice of teaching a foreign language as early as Kindergarten.
14. Being called by name over the plane intercom is like being called to the Principal's office. The people on the plane even go, "Oooooo" like they did in elementary school.
15. Yes, people have actually realized they are on the wrong plane after the destination is announced. How they got on the plane in the first place...
16. Yes, try what they feed you. It may look like something you would never eat, but it may be delicious. Unless it is still moving. You might want to be careful with that one.
17. The smaller and more hole-in-the-wall a restaurant is, the more fabulous the food.
18. Any restaurant that has a 4′10″ Nonna/Grandma who mostly works in the basement cooking her life away and then occasionally comes up to yell at the servers, while they tremble with fear and reverence - this is an exponentially good restaurant.
19. If your passport is up for renewal in oh, the next 5 years, apply for a new one now. Every man, woman, and child is currently getting a passport. You qualify in one of those categories. So get a move on. Worst case scenario - contact your government representative if your renewal is taking a ridiculously slow amount of time. "Ridiculously slow" is subjective.
20. Bring hand sanitizer. I was doing this before it was cool. I now pretend I'm a trendsetter.
21. Hand sanitizer wipes do not count as a liquid - whoo hooo! More room in your quart-size bag.
22. Mascara counts as a liquid, depending on the airport. When in doubt, quart it.
23. That GE thingy at security that puffs air all around you? Thanks, GE. That thing is freaky. It's like the glaucoma test at the eye doctor where they blow a puff of air at your eye...except it's all over.
24. DO NOT buy a black suitcase. Good Lord, just don't do it. Unless you have time to kill.
25. If you can afford to get or have the opportunity to trade in your miles for club level service at the airport - do it.
26. If you do the club level, they don't call your flight out over the intercom. Just sayin'.
27. Those quiet cars on trains? There's a reason why they have a picture of a sleeping phone. Because your phone should be SLEEPING. Not singing, not hollering, it should be QUIET. This can be achieved by turning your phone OFF. I know, amazing concept.
28. You learn more about who you are when you are around people who you are not.
29. Never pass up an opportunity to travel. Find a way. I don't care if you have to rearrange your schedule, scrape together the money - just do it.
30. There is no such thing as a bad vacation. They just give you really good stories to tell when you get home.
31. Those guys with the AK-47s standing in the airport? They WILL shoot you. And quickly. So shut up and behave.
32. Traveling somewhere that is so different from what you are used to that it is like being on Mars - this is a very good thing.
33. We have no idea how good we have it. That is part of the reason why you need to travel - see how other people live (and live without).
34. Talk to people. I've met people on trips that I'm still in touch with years later. (Keep in mind that if it's a cultural no-no to talk in a certain situation, don't do it. You will look and feel stupid. And you may even have bigger consequences than that.)
35. If you are in the Tube in London, and someone starts talking to you, there's a 99% chance they are American.
36. The French have an innate sense of style. It extends to their clothing, food, and conversation.
37. I love France and the French. If you tell me you don't like France or the French, I will ask you if you have ever been to France. I will also ask you if you have ever been outside Paris. You will most likely answer "no" to one or both of these questions. I will then laugh.
38. "All-inclusive" does not translate into "Eat like an animal". Use some decorum.
37. If you don't know what decorum is, learn it. You represent the country you are from when you travel.
38. Make a list of things you want to visit in your lifetime. I prefer to call it my "Places I Want to Travel" list rather than "Places I Want to See Before I Die" list. The first version sounds much happier. :)
39. The people of China are some of the kindest and gracious people I have met.
40. You learn a lot about a country by going into a bookstore. And a post office.
41. Always have a pen and paper with you. And business cards.
42. If you are afraid of flying, just think of a plane as a bus in the air. It just takes a LOT longer to board this bus.
43. Turbulence is much less topsy-turvy than any rollercoaster.
44. You can still have a great conversation with someone even though you are speaking completely different languages.
45. The coolest letter of any alphabet is the Russian "zh". It's like a hipper-looking W. (See the image at the head of this post for the real thing.) The Russian language also wins because it has like four Ys. That is cool.
46. Aruba is mostly desert. It is like Arizona, but with beaches.
47. Fear not. Just be careful.
48. Have fun. You paid for this trip - ENJOY IT.
49. Get prescriptions for antibiotics and Tamiflu filled before you leave on your trip.
50. Yes, it will be fine. You will just have a really great story when you get home.
51. Crying babies on planes: At least you aren't the baby. This is one of the reasons earplugs were invented. Use them. Babies can't help it, and yes, they do have to travel.
52. However, children who run up and down the aisles of the plane - yes, your kid is totally adorable. But I will trip over him. And all three of us will not be happy.
53. Spontaneous travel is some of the best traveling. Just hop on a plane and go somewhere. You can get great last-minute travel deals.
54. Yes, get your cell phone set up for international service. And in the case of AT&T, make sure you call and have it turned off when you get home. Because AT&T won't do it automatically. Psst - they make more money that way. :)
55. As long as you have your a) meds and b) contacts/glasses (if you need them), you can pretty much get whatever you forgot when you get to your destination. And even a) and b) can be taken care of in many countries.
56. Sure, check out a McDonalds in another country just to see what they have there. But for the love of God, eat somewhere more local.
57. Your brain and neurons will thank you for traveling. They need some new scenery, too.