Like Tom Petty, I’ve always had a travelin’ jones. I haven’t had the good fortune to indulge it at will, but I’ve had my moments. One thing I’ve learned is that there are always unexpected hurdles popping up in your path. In the hope of sparing you these painful leaps, I thought I would share a few tips, things I’ve picked up along the way. Who knows when you might need them?
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, a friend called and asked if I would be interested in spending two weeks just outside New York City. Of course I said of course. I had about 20 minutes to pack. Not a problem; I was ready and waiting when the car drove up. And did we have a good time?!! We wandered around NYC at all hours of the night and day, including a 10:00 p.m. romp through Greenwich Village, which was something of an education! TIP: If you meet a stranger in a strange land and he walks up to you screaming “It’s a rip-off!” and you have no idea what he’s talking about, don’t say a word, don’t make any sudden moves, just turn slowly and walk the other way.
I once had two tickets to a dream concert in Atlanta. I planned the trip for 3 months. Everything was covered, down to the last detail. I even knew someone who loved the band as much as me and wanted to go along. The big day came and I ended up going by myself. TIP: Always plan your trips as if you are the only person involved. If you want a companion, pick one up on the way.
The North Carolina coast is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. My friends and I went there regularly for a while, always staying right on the beach at Rodanthe. Just a short, sandy stroll and we were in the water. I spent a lot of time watching for dolphins and searching for sea shells. Paradise! There were lots of activities offered for those who wanted more to do than enjoy the beach. There was parasailing, skiing, boating, and fishing. TIP: One gentleman suggested that if you really liked fishing, you might save time and have better luck if you just stop at the first bridge and throw $20 bills over the side.
Once upon a time I went to England. Of the many things I experienced, the one that still brings a laugh is that I would be walking down the street at what I thought was a fairly good clip and an eighty-year-old woman, puffing on a cigarette, would go by me like my anchor was down. TIP: You can’t keep up, so just forget it.
I arrived at Victoria Station, lots of luggage in tow, in the pre-cell phone era and tried to get to a telephone. You can’t take luggage into the telephone area. So I stood outside the door with all my luggage, trying to think of a way to make my telephone call. TIP: When you first get to Victoria Station, put your luggage in storage and leave it there until you’re ready to go home.
While I was there, I took a train out of London to Cobham to visit the Moody Blues record shop. I went first on Wednesday afternoon. It was a wonderful train trip (I love trains). I could see everything, the houses, gardens, and countryside, as we rode along. When I got there and walked from the station into the village, the shop was closed. Apparently they always close on Wednesday afternoon. Who knew? So I thought, OK, I’ll come back on Monday. And I did. Only it was Easter weekend and, therefore, Monday was a bank holiday. Closed again. TIP: If you want to visit a specific place in England, go on Tuesday or Thursday.
I’m not sure you will find this advice useful or even desirable. You may want to do it Your Way; many of us have and some of us made it back. But I hope it will serve to remind you that you need to stay alert! If you would like to search out other tips for unwary travelers, we have a number of travel guides that should point you in the right direction. You might want to browse a few before you head “out there.” Good travelin’.
Dave Barry’s Only Travel Guide You’ll Ever Need.
101 Places Not to See Before You Die.
There’s No Toilet Paper – On the Road Less Traveled.
When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It’s Time to Go Home.
Hey Ranger: True Tales of Humor and Misadventure from America’s National Parks