Archive | November 2011

The Romance and Reality of Traveling

Everything’s ready.  Your ticket’s booked, your suitcase is packed and you’re ready to go.  You’re set to be the star of your own American in Paris or bask in The Beach’s exotic locale.  You’re hungry for pasta in the Eternal City and keen to live out the adventures of Vicky and Cristina in Barcelona.  You’re ready for the romance of travelling.

But what happens when an ugly apartment block ruins the Parisian skyline or you find more McDonald’s than quaint cafes?  What happens when your idea of a place clashes with its reality?

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Thanksgiving as an Expat

Becoming an expatriate is often the result of travelling.  You find a place, fall in love with the scenery (or, in my case, a cute guy with a foreign accent) and suddenly find yourself putting up curtains in a new home overseas.  You experience excitement, confusion and frustration, often at the same time.  You meet new friends, miss your old ones and learn to balance the complex relationships you have with both of the countries in your life.

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When Mild is Spicy and Now is Later

You’ve been there. Your eyes run almost as fast as your nose.   Your tongue sticks out Gene Simmons style begging for water like you’ve been rescued from the desert.  At some point you may begin to rock back and forth or curl into a ball.  You might not realize how you look at the time, but your buddies will be sure to imitate it for years to come once you’re back home.  Sometime after the burning (and sobbing) has subsided you laugh, or try to laugh, at yourself and remember you can’t handle the spicy curry in India.

Welcome to looking like an idiot.

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Too Old for Hostels?

Travel is the great equalizer between ages.  Maybe you can’t teach old dog new tricks, but you can teach it to pick a point on a map and go there.  Just think how many people use retirement as their starting point for travel.   Travelling is open to people of all age because it’s only as comfortable or hectic as you make it.  You can find travellers in strollers or in wheelchairs.

So if you’re never too old to travel, is it possible that you can ever be too old for hostels?

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Travelling Alone

You’ve been part of the buddy system since you were born.  You’re trained to work in partners, play together at recess and eat lunch surrounded by friends.  You throw pizza parties with other kids your age and maybe even wear Best Friends bracelets. In college you have a roommate in your miniature dorm and share your professors with hundreds of other students.   You move from casually dating someone to sharing a house, a bed, sometimes even a toothbrush.  You enter the real world where you work with colleagues on new projects and collaborate on new ventures.  You are an expert at operating alongside others.

So why would you want to travel alone?

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Amigos de Guaro and Best Friends Abroad

How do you describe the kind of instantaneous friendships created overseas?  There’s something about the foreign air – or the foreign booze – that makes you love or hate the people you meet with a depth normally only acquired after knowing someone a decade.  You go from introductions to deepest of secret telling in the time it takes you to climb one exotic volcano.  Maybe it’s because you inevitably share such incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experiences with people you meet during your travels.  Maybe it’s because you’re free of worries, free of cares, and free to just love or hate with reckless abandon.

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You’re Still A Tourist

You’re Not a Local Unless You Are

How long does it take to really get to know a place?  How long before you can confidentially say you’ve “been there”?  Does a layover in an airport count as having visited a place?  Does it take an overnight stay?   A week?  A month?

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Gray Day Travels

A gray day is license to do whatever you want.  There’s no pressure to see a million sites, or climb the tallest mountain, or wake up early so as not to miss a second of excitement.  While these are the reasons you may travel, a break from your self-imposed expectations to do it all can be an essential part of your trip.

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