Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Top 16 (18, 20?) International Travel Tips – Part 1

We’ve all seen innumerable “Top Ten” tips for travelers. As a former magazine editor, I initiated a few too many Top Ten articles myself. Still, most folks enjoy a few bits of timely advice. And what better arena to discuss tips than in the travel realm. So when it’s a slow travel news day (or week), we’re going to post a couple of International Travel Tips until we get tired of doing so. Or until we run out of our Top However Many list. Thus, the first two of our Top International Travel Tips.

Dress Like a Local
In Europe, dress better than you would originally think. Jeans are now totally acceptable, but dress them up with a leather jacket. Do not, not, wear running shoes, shorts (unless you’re in the Caribbean or on the beach), or a fanny pack. Still, don’t try too hard: the Japanese and Chinese wear very western clothes -- you probably shouldn’t wear a kimono in Japan if you’re an Anglo. You’ll probably never really fool a local into thinking you’re another local, but we have been asked (in French and in Dutch, respectively) for directions in Paris and Amsterdam. (Of course, when we said “Parlez-vous anglais?” or “I’m sorry, I don’t speak Dutch” we got an embarrassed laugh and a “never mind.”)

Travel Light (Really, Really Light)
We discussed this in detail in a previous blog entry, but we’ve come to the conclusion that we simply travel with too much STUFF. Try, really try, to travel with only a carry-on bag. This can free you to travel more spontaneously and more comfortably. What do we really need? Unless it’s a “special” trip (diving, skiing, professional photography), we think you can travel anywhere in the world for any amount of time in one bag. That’s what laundry soap was made for.