Proper travel, Part 1

Tourism consists almost exclusively of eating and drinking to excess as you go from place to place. Travel, on the other hand, is completely different. After many years spent going from place to place, I’ve come up with some simple ways to determine whether or not you are tourisming or traveling. This is important because NO ONE WANTS TO BE A TOURIST.

Being a tourist is like being a Fred, only a billion times worse because there is nothing wrong with being a Fred.

Here’s how you know you are tourisming. If you find yourself nodding more than once every ten items or so, please check back tomorrow to find out how you can become a traveler.

  1. Food is a big deal.
  2. You critique what you eat.
  3. You look up restaurants before you ever even leave your home country.
  4. A lousy meal ruins your day/night/week/trip/marriage/life.
  5. You get outraged at cigarette smoke, which ruins your day/night/week/trip/marriage/life.
  6. When you tell friends back home about your trip, you talk a lot about where and what you ate.
  7. You rarely if ever eat street food.
  8. You’ve never gotten food poisoning from eating obviously dicey food.
  9. You’ve been to Europe and never had Turkish fast food.
  10. You rarely shop for food at the supermarket.
  11. You don’t know how the coin-deposit system works for European grocery shopping carts.
  12. You rarely cook your own food.
  13. You are a coffee snob.
  14. A bad cup of coffee is worse than a stroke.
  15. You refuse to buy shitty coffee from vending machines.
  16. “I’m too tired to eat,” are words that you have never uttered.
  17. Drink is a big deal.
  18. You drink a lot.
  19. You drink at lunch and dinner.
  20. You do wine tours.
  21. You “study” a country’s wine “culture.”
  22. You notate the wines/beers/whiskeys you drank.
  23. You occasionally barf from over consumption.
  24. “A glass of wine with dinner” means two bottles.
  25. You are fascinated by the local sake/shochu/beer/whiskey/vodka production facility.
  26. Most of the people you meet when you travel are at restaurants at bars.
  27. You think “ex-pats” are somehow different from immigrants.
  28. Moving from place to place is a big deal.
  29. You refuse to fly coach.
  30. You fly coach but only with great embarrassment.
  31. You lie to your friends and tell them you flew business.
  32. You have ever thought more than one second about whether or not the airline food was “good.”
  33. You think for more than five seconds before saying chicken or meat.
  34. You complain about jet lag.
  35. You complain about airports.
  36. You shop in airports.
  37. You critique food in airports.
  38. You think one airline is better/safer/cleaner/newer than another.
  39. You have never hung out in the galley with the flight attendants.
  40. You have never brought your own food on board and shared it.
  41. You’ve never gotten around a strange city by bike.
  42. You went on a bike tour and were picky about the make/model/fit/components.
  43. You have never rented a Citi Bike or bike share bike.
  44. You would never rent a scooter.
  45. You’ve never been mistaken for a local.
  46. You have never taken the local bus.
  47. You’ve never been mistaken for a street person, beggar, or misplaced person.
  48. No one has ever asked you for directions in the local language which isn’t English.
  49. You have taken a cruise ship anywhere, not as an employee.
  50. You have ever said, thought, or spoken at length with someone who has said, “We enjoyed our cruise.”
  51. You prefer to rent a car.
  52. Private train cabins or reserved seating are your last choice travel option.
  53. You’ve never had an unreserved bus seat for a trip that takes more than an hour or that crosses a national border.
  54. You don’t know how to ride, pay for, or cheat to ride a tram/subway/local bus.
  55. Your default mode when lost, confused, angry, or looking for an ATM is “Do you speak English?”
  56. Lodging is a huge deal.
  57. You can’t stand dirty sheets.
  58. You can’t stand dirty toilets.
  59. You don’t stay anywhere you can’t get or use points.
  60. You have ever booked a room using points.
  61. You have never shared a gang dorm room with strangers.
  62. You have never shared a bed with a stranger (that didn’t involve money changing hands).
  63. You have never taken a gang shower.
  64. All of your lodging comes with a free breakfast.
  65. The tip you leave the cleaning lady is more than her monthly salary.
  66. You’ve never known the name of a person who cleans your room.
  67. You leave reviews on Yelp.
  68. You read reviews on Yelp.
  69. You are a Yelp star reviewer.
  70. You trust TripAdvisor.
  71. You’ve never taken a trip where none of the lodging is booked more than a day in advance.
  72. You’ve never had to sleep outside.
  73. You’ve never had to fix a plumbing problem or retrieve something dropped down a drain.
  74. You have never made a life-long friend as a result of a trip.
  75. You’ve never invited a complete stranger to stay with you if they’re ever in your home country.
  76. You’ve never accepted an invitation from a complete stranger to go to or stay at their house.
  77. You’ve never watched someone else’s bags.
  78. More than 2% of any post-trip conversation with any sentient creature has revolved around the food, the drink, or the transportation.

END

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1 thought on “Proper travel, Part 1”

  1. Haha! This list brings back fond memories! But:
    You don’t know how the coin-deposit system works for European grocery shopping carts.

    I learned that in the south side of Chicago, not traveling because I actually have rarely been in a supermarket traveling. I far prefer the open air farmers market.

    My MO has always been when traveling: 1) get a plane ticket into and out of wherever I’m going, 2) once I’ve arrived, I find a place to stay in the “city of the day”, 3) find the farmers market and get food to put in the room I’m staying in, 4) wander the city moving as far away from people/crowds as possible. That’s where you find the heartbeat of the city, away from the crowds. 5) Repeat 2, 3, 4 until I have to race back to the original airport to fly home.

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