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Lesson Plans

Re: Help! Seasoned travelers

From: Maggie White (mwhiteaz)
Date: Sat May 20 2000 - 13:48:42 PDT

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    MarshArt wrote:

    > Any more travel advice would be appreciated. What are your best tips and
    > no-no's? This is my first time to Europe and we are going for 3
    > weeks...(Anniversary celebration). You can send to my personal email.
    > Marsha

    This is an open letter to Marsha because others mentioned they were
    interested, also.


    Having traveled in a couple dozen countries over the last 20 years, I can give
    you some pointers which I've learned through trial and error. Since I usually
    travel alone, my #1 tip is: pack light. If I can't handle my bags myself, I
    know I've got too much. Like most of the packing guidelines say, lay out
    everything you want to take and then halve it. The new Supplex pants and
    shirts are very light, easily washable in a sink, and dry overnight. A couple
    pairs of pants, one a little dressier than the other, plus about four shirts,
    will get you through. If you're a skirt wearer, there are Supplex skirts
    made, too. Rayon washes and dries easily, also. Cotton weighs more and
    doesn't dry as quickly. Avoid jeans like the plague; they are heavy and take
    forever to dry. Don't bring an umbrella--too bulky. If you must have
    rainwear, a long poncho is more versatile. You are not going to a desert
    island; there will always be a building to duck into if it starts to pour.
    Bring a light jacket and two pairs of shoes. I have a "travel jacket" with
    inner pockets for valuables or maps or guidebook pages.

    2. Avoid taking shorts unless you're going to be at a beach resort. Shorts
    in the cities scream TOURIST, and you may not be able to get into some
    cathedrals wearing them. The same goes for sleeveless shirts. This goes for
    your husband, also.

    3. I recommend not using a daypack; this also screams TOURIST, and trust me,
    you really don't need to carry all that stuff every day. You're not carrying
    an umbrella, bottled water is available everywhere, you needn't carry the
    whole guidebook with you. Just pull out the relevant sections (as a confirmed
    book-lover, this killed me the first time I did it, but it sure lightened the

    4. Learn a few basic phrases in one of the languages; knowing, or at least
    trying, some French goes a long way in France, even if the bulk of your
    interactions are in English. Learn at least "please," "thank-you," "hello,"
    "good-bye," and "Do you speak English?" instead of just jabbering away in
    English because you assume everyone speaks it (they don't, and even if they
    do, they won't necessarily volunteer to speak it.).

    5. You get a better exchange rate getting cash from an ATM, and charging
    other purchases. Carry only enough traveler's checks for emergencies.

    6. Be aware of your surroundings and who's around you. I've never been
    robbed, and have had only one close call. in all these years. Get photocopies
    of all important documents: passport, travel insurance, credit cards,
    traveler's checks receipts, vouchers, etc, and keep them separate from the

    7. Take plenty of your favorite film and an extra camera battery. Take the
    film out of the canisters and put it in a Zip-loc bag. Hand it to the airport
    security and request a hand inspection. "They" say that the Xrays won't
    damage slow or medium speed film, but it does have a cumulative effect. I
    also like to keep a simple point and shoot with built-in flash in my camera
    bag in case something happens to my regular camera. Here's where _I_ scream
    TOURIST: I wear my regular 35mm camera around my neck most of the time, using
    a harness-type strap I got at a birding store. Much easier on the neck, and
    more complicated to snatch off my neck or to cut the strap. The camera bag
    can also hold a few extra things like a notebook or small bottle of water.

    8. Be low key, be friendly, be patient. The locals are dealing with cranky
    tourists every day in the summer. I tell myself, even in third world
    countries where I stick out like a sore thumb, "I can't look like I'm from
    here, but I can act like I fit in."

    Have a wonderful trip. After the year you've had, you certainly deserve it!



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