My 4 travel rules
I love to travel. I think there is nothing like travel to expand your horizons, learn about other people and their cultures, try new food, challenge yourself to see life from a new perspective, experience the beauty of nature, get out of your rut and appreciate your circumstances. Plus travel is so much fun. Over the years I have developed these 4 travel rules that have withstood the test of time.
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Rule 1: Go when you can and go with a local
I try to never turn down a good travel opportunity. This is particularly true when I am invited somewhere by a local, because you see things a lot differently when you are in the company of a local. There is no better way to get off the tourist track. When you do travel on your own try to find a way to get closer to a local's perspective. Stay out of big lavish hotels and find an apartment, a house, a B & B, or a small hotel. With sites like airbnb, vrbo, flipkey and roomerama there are so many choices. The bonus is the accommodations you find on these sites are often much less expensive and infinitely more charming than the hotel alternative.
A stunning sunset view from a water-side bistro.
The cacophony of Hong Kong
Noosa, Australia with our boys
No one wants the purple chick board.
San Diego with our daughters
Celebrating a special birthday with family and friends.
View from our room at Hotel Neri in Barcelona
What a surprise when we woke up to a filming cast taking their lunch break.
Rule 2: Eat when you can
Now this doesn't mean eat constantly, but it does means eat thoughtfully and eat well. When you are on the road, finding good food isn't always easy and you can't always find it when you are hungry. Sometimes you need to plan ahead. I always do a little advanced research to find farmer's markets and restaurants so I have a plan. Some of the most memorable meals I have had while traveling have been found at farmer's and public markets. I always look for local food, or what I call eating indigenously, rather than eating the same foods I eat at home. That is part of the adventure. Trying new foods is one of the things I like best about travel. Without a plan you may find yourself in a great city (San Francisco, Paris, Hong Kong or New York) but without a great dinner option. And how sad is that?
Cheese Heaven in Paris
Shall we get a dozen?
Eating indigenously in Olomouc, Czech Republic
The Czechs like their meat!
Dinner at Le Vieux Bistro
Sadly this historic bistro that once fed the workmen building Notre Dame is now closed.
Rule 3: Pee when you can
This sounds a little basic, but sometimes it needs to be said. This rule can be particularly important when you are traveling abroad and are a little squeamish about where you pee. Foreign toilets can be a bit challenging, so plan ahead and always go when you have the chance. Tip: There are Starbucks in virtually all big cities and they all have a potty. Sometimes you have to buy a cup of joe to gain entrance, but it is often worth the price of admission. Likewise, this rule is important for road trips. Nothing is more irritating than having to stop 30 minutes after you have gotten on the road. When my kids were little the rule was everyone had to pee before they got in the car.
Manneken-Pis in Belgium
The Belgians are a little odd with all their peeing monuments. This famous one has some 900 different costumes and always a crowd taking his picture.
Pioneer Inn stall instructions
Sadly, this very straight forward instruction sheet posted in each stall at the Pioneer Inn in Lahaina, Maui has been taken down.
Grand Canyon back in the day
Road trips with the kids are some of our best memories, but potty etiquette and timing was always a challenge.
Rule 4: Buy it when you see it
I am not a big shopper when I travel. I prefer to spend my time and money outside, seeing the area and not the inside of a store. But I do enjoy picking up unique local items to bring home when I travel. Sometimes it is a great bottle of wine or olive oil, or a local spice or handcraft. What I have learned is when I travel I am on the move and the last thing I want to do is double back to go buy something. So now, when I see something I want, I buy it. The shopping is over and I can get on with enjoying the trip.