I just got back from an international trip and had an awesome time. It’s always humbling and eye opening to see how people live on other parts of the planet. Aside from a few moments of genuine anxiety and heart racing panic about missing the flight home and being stuck in an airport in Turkey, the trip was a success. We had a great travel agency, met a lot of fellow travelers, and enjoyed some amazing food. A few things I learned: 1. Travel lightly–hauling a 40lb suitcase plus a duffle bag was hard and I didn’t need everything I brought.
2. Don’t be obnoxious– whenever I heard someone complaining loudly or whining 9 times out of 10 they were American. It’s embarrassing and gives Americans a bad reputation.
3. Get off the beaten path. Ironically the BEST Chinese food I’ve had in my life was at a small restaurant on a Greek island.
4. Talk to the locals. Some of the best suggestions and fun I’ve had has been the result of a local recommendation.
5. Make the most of the experience. Do as much as possible but spend your time wisely. You’ll still be just as jetlagged when you return home.
I’m often wary of deals that seem too good to be true because in my experience they usually are. Earlier this year (January actually). I set a goal of traveling more as I usually do every year. I don’t know why, but I picked one of the countries in Europe as one of the places that I wanted to travel to. I found a package deal that appeared to be very economical and invited a friend to buy the deal as well. Ironically, as I bought the travel package I was sitting in a hotel room in the middle of a snowstorm imagining the warmth of the sun on a sandy beach. Needless to say, pretty soon we will know if this deal was worth it or not. So if we end up somewhere in a foreign country with a run down hotel room without indoor plumbing and whatever else, we’ll know that the deal was too good to be true. I really hope that isn’t the case but it will be a much needed adventure regardless—hopefully without too much stress. However, some things are meant to be experienced and overseas travel has become one of my favorite things. After all, what better way to ensure that I do my research next time?
Ever since I can remember I’ve liked staying in hotels. There’s something oddly comforting about an environment that puts and emphasis on hospitality. Not too long ago there was a snowstorm in my city and as a democracy of one I made the executive decision to get a hotel room because I’m considered essential personnel at my job and calling in because of weather isn’t really an option. As a nice gesture my hospital extended the invitation to staff to stay on grounds in unoccupied rooms. However as someone who works 12 hour shifts, the last thing I want after working 12 hours is to spend that same amount of time at the same place until I work again. Not to mention that I like having physical distance between myself and my job. So getting the hotel room was an incredibly great decision and reminded me of all the reasons why I like staying in nice hotels. As I’ve mentioned many times, traveling is one of my hobbies and I admit, that staying in a hotel is probably one of the best parts of the experience. At first there was some hesitation that came with staying by myself in an unfamiliar city. However that fear was soon confronted after doing a solo trip to Miami by myself and going through the whole experience of booking and staying in a hotel on a total whim. Since then I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels and have had pretty good experiences. One experience that was pretty memorable was staying at a hotel in Paris. Like the true adventurer I am, my hotel was miles away from the tourist part or Paris and there weren’t many English speakers and the French didn’t appear to be particularly pro-American. The hotel room was markedly smaller than rooms in the US and was also significantly more expensive. You had to leave your room key at the front desk and pick it up so that there wasn’t a chance it would get stolen from you. However the view from my window appeared to be right out of some romance movie based in Paris. The thing I like about hotels is that they signify a separation between real like and vacation or business. It’s not your home and doesn’t feel like such but yet it is for however long you stay. There’s the expectation that you aren’t expected to do housekeeping duties and you are free to roam and return to a clean room regardless (within reason) of the state you left it in. Perhaps if I spent three months in a nice hotel I would change my mind. But who doesn’t like housekeeping services?