- Unless you're traveling for research purposes and/or have a place of your own (i.e., not a hotel room), the ideal trip is 12-15 days long.
- Never stay for fewer than three days in any one city.
- Never visit more than two different countries in a single trip. This is especially true if those countries involve different languages.
- Your first 12 hours in any new city will be annoying and cranky-making, even if you're not suffering from jet lag. Roll with it.
- Sight-seeing is exhausting. If you're walking all over tarnation every day, budget more than 8 hours of sleep per night.
- You must learn how to say at least "please," "thank you," "excuse me," and "the check" in the local language.
- Every country has its own marvelous wines, liqueurs, and/or beers. Get to know them intimately.
- Tourists are a(n extremely tedious) breed unto themselves. Happily, American tourists are generally no more annoying or offensive than anyone else.
- If you dress well, you will get treated better.
- Don't just see sights. Do stuff.
- If service industry personnel routinely address you in a language other than English, you're doing it right.
- If you're traveling in a tourist-rich environment, and especially in a (European) country with a minority language, your best bet when squeezing through crowds, etc., is to say, "Pardon!" in as French an accent as you can muster. Everyone understands it, and you can be as peremptory as you like.
- Don't worry about doing it all. Assume that any trip to a new place is merely your first visit.
Friday, July 29, 2011
Flavia's guide to foreign travel
(Note: I do not always follow my own advice.)